ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN TIPS

In October last year the United Nations issued a startling announcement.
“We have 12 years to limit a climate change catastrophe”

It barely registered with me, it got a cursory mention on the news and was quickly subsumed in the Brexit chaos. I wouldn’t have given it another thought, except that my daughter is studying environmental science and she was truly horrified by the lack of media coverage.

As an interior design company we’ve always worked with suppliers who have excellent environmental credentials, but this stark warning got me thinking about how we all need to make further substantial change in a frighteningly short period of time. Interior Design has become more and more like the Fashion industry, led by short term trends which encourage us consumers to carry on consuming and disposing. Thankfully there are many exceptions in the industry that are leading the way in doing things differently. While I’m still learning to become more sustainable, here’s my tips for those of you who don’t know where to start.

SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN TIP No.1

REFURBISH & REPURPOSE OLD FURNITURE

Giving old objects a completely new purpose means less waste and a fresh look to your home. We’re seeing more and more creative re-purposing of existing pieces rather than building things completely from scratch. It adds character, history, and charm to any space. Re-finishing timber furniture or re-upholstering seating can also be totally transforming. Why get rid of a perfectly functional foot stool or chair when it has good bones? There are a wealth of talented artisans in the Cotswolds who can breathe new life into a neglected heirloom.

We first purchased this lovely sofa four our clients back in 2002. It still looks as good now as the day we first delivered it. Choosing clean, unfussy designs means they won’t date quickly.

sustainable interior design

SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN TIP No.2

COLLECT ANTIQUE & PRE OWNED PIECES

If many of your items have been refurbished and still feel like something is missing, then why not consider some pre-owned pieces. Collecting vintage or antique furniture is an increasingly modern thing to do, and with the internet at our fingertips, it has never been easier to source high quality, used furniture and fabrics. Gone are the days of schlepping from one second hand shop to another, we are now able to search numerous websites to compare and buy vintage pieces from the comfort of our own homes. Local auction houses like Kingham & Orme have online auction bidding or vintage websites like Vinterior are good places to start, as are local antique dealers like  BrownriggLorfords or Anton & K.

However, it is important to be patient, decide in advance what style you’re looking for and what size items need to be, so you don’t get tempted to impulse buy.

SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN TIP No.3

THINK ABOUT INSULATION & INDOOR AIR QUALITY

According to recent studies, 18% of a buildings heat is lost through its windows. Thermal curtains, interlinings and heavy, quilted or tightly woven curtain fabrics will help to reduce heat loss. Not only will they provide warmth in the winter, but they will keep the heat out in the hot summer months. Linen and wool are great examples of fabrics that are both sustainable and drape beautifully, have a look at Bute or Rapture & Wright for British made options.

Rugs and carpets made from wool are another great way to insulate your home, but if you’re concerned about indoor air quality because of asthma or other sensitivities then keep to hard flooring.

If you’re about to start a renovation or building project I’d recommend considering MVHR. Mechanical ventilation heat recovery is a system that removes excess moisture in the air without removing heat. It’s great in new builds but can also be installed in period properties. It pretty much removes condensation and black mould. This saves on redecorating costs and creates fresh healthy environment to live in. We also recommend doing your research to reduce the number of items that may off-gass (the release of potentially harmful chemicals from a wide variety of building materials and furnishings). Yes, indoor pollution is a thing!

SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN TIP No.4

CHOOSE SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS

It is ideal to skip synthetic fabrics when putting together a sustainable interior. Look for upholstery and drapery fabrics woven from organic cotton, wool, linen or hemp. These natural fibres perform beautifully, and are easy to clean as long as you follow care directions. There are many exciting developments in recycled textiles – so don’t discount them.

While decorating with sustainable materials is a popular trend, there is another reason to give it a try. Sustainable materials, such as coppiced timber and linen are both durable and beautiful. The beauty of the materials means you will be more likely to enjoy the years you spend with them. There are plenty of UK made options to choose from.

SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN TIP No.5

COMMISSION BESPOKE ITEMS LOCALLY

Local craftsmen and women are a great source of beautiful and useful items for your home. You’ll be supporting local business, reducing delivery miles and adding something meaningful to your home.

Sourcing products locally is important for many reasons, starting with it’s just much easier! You actually get to interact with artisans in their workshops and build a close relationship. Being a designer, it is extremely important to me that my suppliers get to understand the way I work and understand my clients likes and dislikes. They can then recommend solutions specific to projects.

FEELING INSPIRED?

The idea of becoming more sustainable can sound a bit like going on a diet. If you’re anything like me, then the idea of depriving myself sends me into an overdrive of excess. But this doesn’t have to be about deprivation. Instead it can be a fascinating journey to a more meaningful way of living. It’s a way of life that our grandparents lived without thinking about and something we need to re-learn.

We offer an Interior Design Service that can take care of every aspect of your interiors project. If you’re considering a new build or home renovation and think we could help, we would love to hear from you!

Call us on 01386 258007 or email us at info@helenbainbridge.co.uk to discuss your project.