Tag Archives | reuse

Eco friendly interior design – going shopping

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

shopping for sustainable interior designAs we started discussing last week, 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 eco considerations when shopping for individual items.  Check last week’s post for thoughts on the bigger picture.

Once you’re happy with your overall plans for the space, you can consider three things about each potential item you want in the space – What, How and Where:

What?

What is it made from?  Look out for the following:

  • Sustainably produced materials, particularly for items made from wood and paper
  • Recycled, reclaimed, reused materials remade into your item, could be plastic, ceramics, glass, wood, etc
  • Recycled, reused, reconditioned items themselves, such as antique/vintage/second-hand furniture, fabric, vases etc
  • Non-toxic materials, especially paints, dyes, varnishes and glues
  • Natural pigments
  • Durable materials – will it last?  Is it fit for purpose?

How?

If it’s a new item, how was it made?  Things to consider:

  • Factory-made or individually crafted?
  • Fairly paid adult labour or barely paid child labour?
  • Does the factory / workshop use renewable energy, does it dispose of its waste responsibly?
  • What chemicals has it (or the raw materials) been treated with during its life?
  • Is it made to last (e.g. dovetail joints) or for the short term (e.g. glue)?

Whether new or not, how does it work?

  • How energy efficient is it?  (for electrical items, appliances etc)
  • How efficiently does it use water? (for taps, toilets, appliances etc)
  • How does it help save energy / materials etc, if at all?  E.g. you could line curtains with thermal lining instead of standard, to keep the heat in during winter, and keep it cooler for summer.

Where?

  • Where were the raw materials sourced?
  • Where was it produced?
  • Where is it now?
  • How far away are the above from where it will end up?

In my opinion, tiles made from recycled glass in an energy and water efficient factory may sound great, but they’re not that eco-friendly if they’ve been produced in Australia or the USA and then shipped over to the UK.  Try looking for tiles made from recycled glass sourced locally.

Informed decisions

I’ll be amazed if you find something that ticks all these boxes, particularly if it’s affordable and doesn’t look crafty / rustic – this is just a list of things to consider when making your purchases, so you can make an informed decision.  There is no perfect solution.

As an example, something that I find tricky myself is chipboard & veneers versus solid wood.  Imagine you’ve found a dining table that you like the look of.  It’s available in either chipboard & veneers or solid wood, made in the UK from wood grown sustainably in Europe.

  • Chipboard & veneer is essentially waste wood (good) glued together (bad unless non-toxic glue), with a veneer on top (good as uses less raw materials, bad as less durable).  Light to transport (good).  Probably won’t last so long (bad).
  • Solid wood uses more raw materials (bad) but if it gets scratched you can sand it down and refinish (good).  It’s heavy to transport (bad) but is likely to last a long time (good) and be in better condition if you want to sell it on in the future (good).

So as you can see, eco friendly interior design is a matter of considering all angles and making an informed decision.

Was this useful?  Do you have any eco-dilemmas of your own?  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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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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A few of my favourite things

Along with the factories in Europe and half of London, this blog is going on holiday for a couple of weeks and we’ll be back in September, celebrating London Design Festival and continuing with our howto series on interior design.

We’re still open for business though, so if you’d like some help to get your home the way you want it, and save money in the process, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In the meantime, I thought I’d showcase a few of my favourite companies.  Click on the picture to go to the website.

Benchmark Furniture

Benchmark Furniture

Benchmark Furniture

A collaboration between Terence Conran and Sean Sutcliffe, a furniture maker, Benchmark sources all its timber sustainably, as locally as possible, and makes everything in Berkshire in its energy efficient workshop.

Ian Mankin

Ian Mankin

Ian Mankin

Natural fabrics, some organic, over 90% of which are made in Lancashire.  Also wallpaper, lampshades, cushions and other accessories.

Retrouvius

Retrouvius

Retrouvius

A huge range of architectural salvage and vintage furniture.

Reborn

Reborn Paints

Reborn Paints

Quality paint reprocessed and blended from previously unused paints – each pot has up to 90% recycled content, and it’s available in 28 subtle shades.

 

See you in September!

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Antiques, sunshine and cycling through London parks

Last week, I paid a visit to the Spring Decorative Fair in Battersea.  As it was a sunny day – and haven’t they been in short supply until recently?! – I decided to cycle from my home in North London, and boy was I glad I did.  Heading through Primrose Hill, Regents Park, Hyde Park and then Battersea Park in the glorious sunshine was exactly what I needed – and quicker than public transport too.  Don’t even get me started on driving in this city!

At the antiques fair, I especially liked the sleek and curvacious lines of Paola Bazzoli‘s 20th Century Italian stock, and Quindry had some beautiful pieces too.  Hudson Grove also caught my eye with their stock from Ichabod Headless.  Antiques and vintage pieces are a great environmentally friendly way to get a well made, stylish piece for your home.  And they don’t have to break the bank, either.

To top it all off, Megan’s – an old favourite from my days at design school – were providing the catering for the fair, and so a delicious takeaway salad was devoured in the sunshine in the park on the way home.  Not a bad way to spend a few hours and pick up some inspiration!

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