Want to decorate your home in a natural style? Then sisal, a natural fibre, is the ideal choice. Many people, and not just those with allergies, love the material because it is free of pollutants and so versatile. Now that everything is plastic-fantastic, we are becoming more and more aware of our environmental impact; natural materials like sisal let us reduce our carbon footprint at home too – and sisal furniture, upholstery, carpets or even wallpaper can make your space cosier and warmer.

What is sisal?

The fibres come from the leaves of the sisal agave – a fleshy plant native to arid regions; Indonesia and Brazil are the main producers. Compared with the other natural fibres, sisal has not been used for very long – the plant’s benefits were not discovered until the 19th Century. Unfortunately, sisal making decreased drastically once artificial fibres produced from crude oil were invented. However, the interest in natural fibres has risen immensely in recent years – in particular due to the spiralling oil prices and increasing environmental awareness. Sisal fibres are exceptionally robust, strong and durable.

Sisal’s ecological credentials

Eco-friendly consumers and allergy sufferers swear by sisal floor coverings as a healthier alternative to carpets or laminate, because the fibres are free of pollutants. As the plant is so robust, most pests avoid it, so it does not need any chemical protection. Sisal is also a renewable raw material and 100% recyclable. Another bonus: the fibres absorb moisture, allowing them to regulate the room climate. However, to make the most of the positive effect, remember to use natural adhesives only (like a natural latex glue).

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Sisal flooring

Sisal is primarily used as a floor covering. With its durability and dirt-resistance, sisal carpets are a perfect fit for dining rooms. They are available by the metre on rolls or as finished rugs. On the other hand, the rough and in some cases prickly fibres take some getting used to - it's a feeling you have to like. For bedrooms, a fluffy deep-pile carpet may be the better choice, while in home offices, don’t forget to use a protective mat under the casters of your chair so the fibres don’t get crushed.

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Sisal is also often used for entrance areas - the robust fibres make ideal doormats - and the carpets are easy to clean. In green households, stairs and entire corridors are often carpeted entirely with sisal.

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Ahoy there! Sisal ropes

Ropes made of sisal are common sights at sea. Sisal is perfect for marine environments, with its tear-resistant, durable and resilient properties. In apartments, you can use ropes to hang items (floating beds, hammocks or lights) or as handrails in stairwells: perfect for country-style or coastal houses.

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Sisal – a cat’s best friend

Anyone who shares their home with a cat can use sisal rope to make unique scratching posts. For example, simply wrap the durable rope around a beam - your cuddly four-legged friend can sharpen its claws and you need not worry about health problems thanks to the natural material. An attractive alternative to standard scratching posts!

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Sisal textile wallpapers

Sisal is not just the perfect ecological material for floors, steps and beams, it can also be used to decorate walls as a textile wallpaper. The fibres are glued to a backing material – fleece, for example, is an ideal choice. Sisal textile wallpapers can even be used in bathrooms, as they are water-resistant, breathable and regulate moisture – and give the room a warm and natural atmosphere.

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Sisal furniture

Woven sisal fibres offer a beautiful surface for furniture and complement any natural living style. Other natural fibres with similar properties include jute, seaweed, hemp and coconut.

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Colour scheme– subtle natural shades

Untreated sisal comes in various shades of light brown. The colours are muted, subtle and unobtrusive, and create a great natural look. If the natural colouring is too dull for you, sisal is easy to dye – for example in blue, red or dark brown.

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No matter how you use and combine sisal – whether with white furniture, wood, bamboo or wicker-work – the result is a harmonious and healthy home.

This article was first published on Houzz .