Interior Design

Eco-Friendly Interior Design

November 5, 2021

Creating a beautiful home goes beyond aesthetics and comfort. Nowadays, with all we know about climate change and the pressures over-consumption and a throwaway culture has on our planet, using sustainable materials is not only trendy – it is the responsible thing to do.

Using sustainable materials like cork, bio-glass and bamboo is not the only way to create eco-friendly interiors. I have written in my Interior Designer’s Notebook about the value in reusing and restoring the old and how it relates to my own perfectly imperfect interior design philosophy. For instance, I talk about those who create art from rubbish like Tim Noble and Sue Webster, and companies like Retrouvius who restore old furniture, lighting, or architectural elements.

Many interior design projects offer the opportunity to reuse original building materials like reclaimed wood or repurposing metal elements like old fire grates or railings.

In the Catalan Farmhouse renovation, it was exactly this process that excited me. Carefully removing the tiles from its 17th century roof to reuse when the ceiling had been redone felt like honouring the history of the ancient building – while also saving on the need to purchase new made tiles and all the environmental cost of producing and shipping them.

We also reclaimed 19th century oak flooring and reused it on the top floor. All these materials have history and value. When they are reused, they tell the story of the building in a way that modern material simply cannot.

We uncovered 200-year-old oak floorboards in our period building renovation project in Chelsea. There is simply no better alternative than reusing the bones of an old structure. We even left the original cement footprint where the fireplaces used you to be. People often like to ‘design’ over such things, but I believe that removing or covering it over would be like erasing a part of a building’s history.

When working with eco-friendly design principles, here are a few other things to consider:

Energy Efficient Interior Design

It can seem daunting at first, especially if your budget doesn’t allow for expensive renovations. But there are many ways to make small changes which will add up to big savings. Here are some ideas:
• Use eco-friendly lighting. Nowadays there are many options that will allow soft, variable and energy-efficient lighting.
• Install solar panels on windowsills or rooftops. This helps reduce heating costs during the winter months. It also creates free power for your house.
• Insulate walls and ceilings properly. The more insulation you put into your property, the lower your bills will be.
• Keep draughts away by sealing gaps around doors and windows.
• Make sure air conditioning units work efficiently. Check their filters regularly.
• Automate heating and lighting systems. There’s no need to have heaters on all night if you can turn them on an hour before getting up in the morning.
• Choose low flow shower heads and toilets. Power-heads mix air with water so you still have a strong flow of water but without wasting hot water on inefficient showers.
• Take advantage of natural light wherever possible. Windows facing south should receive plenty of sunlight throughout the day.

Eco-friendly Interior Design Reduces Waste

The recycling of materials as discussed before is a part of this but also in many cases what is needed is a mind reset. There is much beauty and grace in repairing and renovating broken items – as described in this post on the Japanese art of Kintsugi.

Japanese kintsugi pottery

In tandem with Kintsugi is the philosophy of perfectly imperfect design. This is a principle that I live my life by, and it informs all my interior design choices. You can see it in the use of old, pre-loved and discarded items that are used in home decor, like this beautiful old tiller lamp.

Unconventional objects in interior decoration for Palamós project

Also in the juxtoposition of antiques with all their imperfections, texture and history with modern colour schemes and comforts. A perfect interior is one that is rather soulless without the old and imperfect blended in to add a touch of eco-friendly authenticity.

Use Sustainable Materials Throughout

Needless to say, when designing a home interior to be eco-friendly, the materials chosen are key. You may think that is going to be quite restrictive, but there are a lot of sustainable elements to choose from. This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good idea of just how much flexibility a creative interior designer has to be environmentally friendly.

Eco-friendly Materials for Interior Design

– Wood from sustainable sources
– Recycled glass
– Reclaimed wood
– Felt
– Bamboo
– Hemp
– Wool
– Cotton
– Alpaca wool
– Organic cotton
– Natural linen
– Silk
– Leather
– Cement
– Steel
– Copper
– Iron
– Bronze
– Brass
– Gold
– Silver
– Pewter
– Ceramic tile
– Stone
– Glass

As an interior designer, I always make a point of using environmentally friendly materials, but it is especially inspiring to work with a client who has these same principles. If that is you, please use the contact form below to get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you!