SUSTAINABALE INTERIOR DESIGN- what is it and how do you get it?

Sustainable interior design is creating interiors that are made to last. Using environmentally sustainable materials and manufacturing methods that don’t impact negatively on our environment or us has a number of benefits. It not only encourages long-term use but intelligent, responsible design also provides healthier spaces and connects people with the natural environment. We believe all interiors should be designed in a timeless manner, whatever your taste. Avoiding short-term trends will give you interiors of enduring style that never look dated.

As the late Coco Chanel said, “fashion fades, only style remains the same.”


For longevity
Buying products that don’t need to be replaced every few years places less strain on current resources, conserving them for the enjoyment of future generations.

For health and comfort
We can improve our health, comfort and enjoyment with better thermal qualities (heating and cooling) using passive design principles. We can also improve indoor air quality using products with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and provide a greater connection to the natural environment by using eco-friendly products.

For economy
By buying better-quality, longer-lasting items and employing passive-solar design principles, you can save on energy bills and save money.

Sales potential
There is a growing trend with a number of real estate agents to give homes for sale an “eco” rating in order to inform potential buyers about the house they are considering purchasing. By improving a building’s ambience, operation, energy use and maintenance, you may increase its future sales potential.

One of the first things to do when creating your interiors is to decide what you will purchase from new, renewable sources and/or from existing products by upcycling and/
or recycling.
If you’re interested in up-cycling or recycling, you can visit stores that specialise in recycled materials such as windows and doors, fireplaces, bricks, tiles, roof sheeting, baths, hand basins and furniture and furnishings. Just look online to find your nearest location. You’ll be amazed at what you can find.
But not all products need to be recycled and your interiors do not need to look like historical relics or “hippy” dwellings. If your look is more contemporary and you just have to have new, you will find there is a wide range of new products available, both locally made and imported, that are manufactured from sustainable materials and practices.
When sourcing new products and materials, ensure you consider not only the manufacturer’s green credentials but also the lifecycle of the product and where it was manufactured.
And while some products may appear more expensive in the first instance, it’s important to weigh up the costs vs. benefits. These are durability, longevity, sustainability, maintenance and health advantages.

Read magazines
While we don’t all live in magazine-quality homes, magazines do provide a wealth of information and advice on products and services along with case studies by recognised design professionals.
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Surf the internet
Websites are such an invaluable resource for researching ideas, products, suppliers, architects and designers.

Read books
Many books are written on the subject of sustainable design and living.

Visit showrooms
Seek out showrooms, manufacturers and suppliers with green credentials.

Mood boards
Create a mood board from all the things you love. This will give you the basis of your preferences and a place from which to move forward.

Professional assistance
Interior designers, such as St James Whitting, are trained professionals who can help you find your style and who can provide ideas, products and solutions you may not have thought about and which may not be readily available to the general public. They can often save you money, as any outlay on their services can often be recouped by the savings they can provide on products and getting the design right first time.

There are many different styles you can create. Here are some ideas:

Use antique and vintage pieces
Quality antique and vintage furniture that has been well cared for or restored can look as beautiful and timeless as the day it was originally created.

Upcycled flea market finds
You’ll be amazed at what people throw out and you can save thousands of dollars by collecting and cleaning up these pieces yourself or by having them professionally restored. Remember, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

Contemporary furniture and furnishings
Look for companies and brands with green credentials that are manufacturing modern pieces with responsible materials and manufacturing methods.

Use green materials, systems and strategies
ESD strategies include passive-solar design such as ideal site orientation, radiant heat and geothermal cooling, heat-resistant exterior finishes and glass, sustainable materials, energy-efficient appliances, water-saving taps and toilets, and eco-friendly furniture and furnishings.

What products can you use?
Many designers and manufacturers create exciting new products from waste materials such as paper, glass, ceramics, used tyres, seat belts, soft drink bottles, timber offcuts, cardboard, textile offcuts and industrial waste.
Eco design also uses new sustainable materials and production techniques including FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) timber, fabrics and rugs made from hemp, thistle, bamboo, organic cotton and wool; low VOC paints, glues and finishes, natural linoleum flooring, rubber, cork, wool or fleece for carpets and carpet tiles.
Use hemp for soft furnishings. Hemp is an ideal material for furnishing fabrics and many other interior products. Producing four crops a year, with low water requirement and no chemicals, hemp is strong, durable, naturally antibacterial and has many uses including building materials, bed linen and furnishings, personal care products, clothes and food.
Choose wool or fleece for carpets. It is a 100 per cent natural fibre from a renewable resource. It is less wasteful in manufacturing than nylon carpet, naturally soil resistant, uses no harmful VOCs and has superior looks and long-term durability. Wool carpet tiles reduce waste as it’s easy to replace one tile if damaged and when moving house, you can even take them with you.
Timber flooring from FSC sources is ethical, renewable, warm, durable, beautiful and sustainable. Available in many species and colours, natural timber is an excellent, long-term choice.
Cork floors have come a long way since they were first released to the market. They are
a renewable material with superior durability, available in a range of colours and finishes. They are also hard-wearing, soft underfoot, warm and sound absorbent.
All-natural Linoleum is made from linseed oil, recycled wood flour, cork dust and limestone. It is renewable, durable, biodegradable, low maintenance and available in a range of colours and designs.
Many paints can be harmful to the environment and your health through off-gassing, which can continue for many years, so look for paints with low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) which are a healthier and more sustainable choice.

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Product Selection and lifecycle analysis
When purchasing products, look for certification such as GECA, Green Tag, FSC and Fair Trade. Not all products will have certification so ask the supplier or manufacturer about their green credentials and those of the products and supply chain used in bringing them to market.
Another consideration is the lifecycle analysis of products (from cradle-to-grave or, more appropriately, from cradle-to-cradle), which assesses the environmental impact associated with each stage of a product’s life from initial material extraction, processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and ultimate disposal or, more importantly, recycling.

Product stewardship and manufacturer responsibility
Product stewardship refers to manufacturers taking responsibility for the lifecycle of the products they produce from “cradle-to-cradle”, reducing the impact of their products on the environment, and includes:
1. Refurbishment of the product for possible reuse by existing customer or on-selling/remarketing to new customers.
2. On-selling or donation of the product in existing condition to other commercial businesses or organisations.
3. Disassembly of the product components and/or materials to reuse in new product manufacturing.
Source: Corporate Culture/Cultivated

If it all seems too hard to do yourself, call St James Whitting and we’ll be only too happy to help you.



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