We’re all keen to do our bit to save the planet. But does making our homes more sustainable mean compromising on style?
Quite the opposite, says RIBA architect and interiors specialist Jane O’Connor.
Today, in the first of two articles, she gives her tips on how to renovate your home the eco-friendly way.
Here are Jane’s top tips:
Buy well, buy once
Think of your interiors like your wardrobe – buy high fashion and it’s likely to go out of favour and you could soon get bored with it. Go for classic design over interior fads.
A Chesterfield sofa will never go out of style. Good bones mean longevity – if you want to update a few years down the line, get it reupholstered or add new cushions.
Always buy the best you can afford – it’s a false economy and bad for the environment to buy cheap items that are not made to last and will only end up in landfill.
So aim for quality with your big-spend items like sofas, beds, mattresses and dining tables.
Get the bones right
Bathroom and kitchens are usually the biggest spends in the home. But it’s not just about the aesthetics – it’s important to get the layout, functionality, orientation, size, scale and lighting right.
Otherwise you will never be happy with the result and forever wanting to change it.
If the bones are right you can simply update further down the line with new handles, a lick of paint or replacement door fronts.
Planning is key. An hour or so with a reputable architect can save money and prevent costly mistakes which often end up in landfill.
Cash-in on recycling
One person’s trash really is another’s treasure. Sell old doors, handles, light fittings and excess building materials on sites like eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace.
Your old kitchen can make good money, too – yet most home owners chuck them into a skip without a second thought! Check online sellers like Used Kitchen Exchange.
Alternatively, free-cycle your old kitchen to someone in need – gets rid of the headache of disposal and expensive landfill costs – your builder will factor that into your bill!
Ensure your builder disposes of any waste sustainably – you can ask for certification.
Let there be light
Maximise your natural light and don’t litter ceilings with loads of spotlights.
Intelligent lighting design and careful placement of lighting can save your energy bills and have less impact on the environment – low-energy LEDS are best.
Install dimmer switches to avoid lighting everything to the max. One smart LED lamp is the Philips Hue range, providing flexible output which can be controlled through an app on your phone.
You can also find some stunning vintage treasures and get them rewired and relamped with LEDs.
Wood is a great natural material to use on floors and can last a lifetime – but only if it is sustainably sourced and grown so check with your retailer.
However, think about linoleum – it’s incredibly green and made from a solidified mixture of linseed oil, flax, cork, wood flour and pigments.
And it won’t look like your granny’s parlour as you can get it in concrete-like finishes, patterns and some really funky colours – check out Forbo.
For warmth and good acoustics, cork is extremely eco with a renewable resource operation and zero-waste.
Cork also acts as a great insulator, feels lovely underfoot and if treated is also waterproof so you can use it in kitchens and bathrooms.
Check wool, jute and coir carpets have natural backing as many are synthetic and won’t biodegrade.
Instead of taking old carpet to landfill, contact your local allotment as gardeners love old carpet to cover compost heaps.
For more building and interiors inspiration visit jacksonoconnor.com or Instagram @jacksonoconnorarch
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