Eco friendly interior design – the bigger picture

This post is part of a series of tips on interior design and working with an interior designer.

what is sustainable interior designAs you may know, as a designer I prefer to create designs that are lighter on the environment, eco friendly, sustainable… there are many ways to describe it.  However, I am not a fan of very rustic-looking, eco-style, crafty style.  So, how do I get eco friendly interior design without it looking that way?  There are several things to think about and there is no right answer – it’s a matter of considering everything in balance, focusing on what’s most important to you and thinking about the big picture.  Then you can make an informed decision.

This week we’ll look at the bigger picture.  Check back next week for eco considerations for individual items.

Get it right first time

The number one thing you can do to minimise the impact on the environment when you are improving your space is to get it right first time.  If you take the time to plan your project carefully, whether you’re working with a designer or doing it yourself, getting it right means that you won’t be redoing it as soon as you can, to get it how you want it.  It’s much less wasteful to do it right, once.

Buy quality

Cutting too many corners results in poor quality materials and workmanship that won’t stand the test of time, which means you’ll be doing it again sooner than you think (or living with the shabby results).  Save your time and money (and the planet) and buy quality that lasts.

Plan for the future

Think about future plans.  Is your family growing or will the kids be leaving home soon?  Future proof your plans by designing for the future.  Also don’t be too swayed by fashion – put in what you really love and you won’t be dying to change it in a year or two.  Less work, less waste.

Consider the building

Even if your interior design project isn’t part of a larger building project, could you take the opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of your home with insulation, double glazing, low energy lighting, water saving measures and the like?

Dispose of the old responsibly

If what you are replacing can be reused or recycled, this will have a large effect on the overall environmental impact of your plans. If you haven’t got the time or patience to sell things (e.g. on eBay) there are companies who will do it for you, or you could use Freecycle, or take it to charity or the tip (our local one has a reuse area where people leave things for others to take if they want to).  Anything’s better than putting a perfectly usable kitchen, sofa or wardrobe in landfill!

In the end…

You may be thinking, isn’t doing nothing the most eco friendly interior design option?  Sometimes it is, particularly if the plan is to rip out a brand new kitchen just because you don’t like the style.  If this is your situation, how about just changing the doors or worktop, or reusing the carcasses in a new layout, for example?  Or selling the kitchen on to someone else to reuse it, rather than putting it in landfill?

However, you can be better off getting rid of the old, and then putting in something thoughtful that suits the needs of you and your family for the foreseeable future.  This is particularly true for lighting, plumbing and electrical appliances, which have become significantly more efficient over the years.

Of course, any renovation or redecoration will have an impact on the environment.  I prefer to consider this impact and minimise it, whilst still creating a space that the client loves.  If you plan carefully, and dispose of the old responsibly, you too can have a brand new space with less impact on the environment.

Check back next week for my thoughts on purchasing individual items for your eco friendly interior design.

Was this useful?  Let me know in the comments!

Coming soon – specific tips for individual rooms, lighting, tips on how to use colour, choose floorings, wall coverings, paint…

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in this series, leave a comment or send a message via the website – I’d be delighted to help!

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