Apart from being good for the environment and reducing your carbon footprint, an eco-friendly space also has major health benefits. This month we take another look at eco-friendly interior design considerations to help you create a sustainable and stylish home.
A beautifully considered eco-friendly space incorporating plenty of natural light and indoor greenery. Credit: www.redwoodinteriors.in
Eco-friendliness is becoming the norm throughout most aspects of everyday life, and creating an environmentally friendly home and working environment helps to form the foundation of an eco-friendly lifestyle. In these ‘post-pandemic’ days with more people opting to work from home, this couldn’t be more topical or important.
When considering renovating or redecorating look into the ethics behind your considered materials. Does the manufacturer source their materials sustainably? Are recycled materials involved? How biodegradable are they? What is the distribution process in obtaining the materials?
Toxic materials or options with a high level of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) can harm the air quality both in your building and in the original manufacturing plant. Try to use cleaner options with low VOC levels so that you can protect your own health as well as the planet. Leonardo – Tables by Design make extensive use of Mono coating, a low-level VOC coating that is both stylish and durable.
Photo Credit: bestfloorchoices.wordpress.com
Flooring: When considering flooring options there are a number of ‘green’ choices. Cork and bamboo have become increasingly popular in recent years, but keep in mind that most bamboo comes from tropical or subtropical regions. Depending on where you live, this can lead to high emission levels and pollution throughout the distribution process.
Reclaimed hardwoods, recycled glass, PET carpeting are all gaining popularity as is manufactured hardwood. Linoleum has shaken off it’s tacky image and is now a widely used eco-friendly option. Unlike vinyl, today’s linoleum consists entirely of biodegradable materials like linseed oil, tree resin, and cork dust. This highly renewable material is also flame-retardant and resists moisture well. Furthermore, linoleum’s durability makes it a long-lasting option for most homes or buildings. Since linoleum began growing in popularity again, manufacturers have started creating a wider range of colours and designs to fit modern tastes.
Embrace Natural Light: Make the most of natural light to reduce energy consumption. Maximize the use of windows by keeping them unobstructed and using light-coloured window treatments that allow sunlight to filter in. This not only reduces the need for artificial lighting during the day, but also creates a bright and airy atmosphere. Combine this with the liberal addition of indoor plants to help improve air quality and add a touch of nature. Plants naturally filter and purify the air by absorbing toxins and releasing oxygen
Greenscreen Sea Tex Blinds made from recovered shoreline plastic – Apollo Blinds. Credit: theinterioreditor.com
When choosing window treatments make sure they are made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, hemp, or linen. Look for curtains or blinds that provide insulation and reduce heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer, thus reducing the need for excessive heating or cooling.
Energy-Efficient Lighting: When artificial lighting is necessary, opt for energy-efficient LED or CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs. These bulbs consume less energy, have a longer lifespan, and are available in various colour temperatures to suit different moods and activities. Consider installing dimmer switches to further reduce energy usage. If you are an indoor plant fan, choose a light with a wide colour spectrum. Your plants will love you for it.
Eco-Friendly Paints: Paints have undergone a huge transformation and eco-friendly paints have become the norm when decorating. There is now a wide choice of low or zero VOC paints for interior and exterior available that are free from toxic chemicals, ensuring better indoor air quality. Look for paints labelled as eco-friendly or natural, which are made from organic pigments and sustainable binders.
Some claim that the only true eco-friendly furnishings are up-cycled or lovingly restored pieces. After all, anything else requires a manufacturing process which can easily result in, amongst others, pollutants being released. However, this automatically limits one’s choice of style and material. The development of various composites, alloys and recycled products has allowed designers to explore new and exciting options.
The beauty of natural wood at a fraction of the cost. The Piccadilly Coffee Table from the Leonardo collection
Although the production of wood veneer has become an industry over the years, the actual use of veneers has remained a craft. At Leonardo – Tables by Design we make extensive use of wood veneers, the most eco-friendly option when requiring the richness of solid wood without the severe environmental impact. Wood veneers have been used throughout history with the first recorded use being the Egyptians Pharos who developed the technique of thinly slicing wood to decorate and embellish items. Trees were a scarce commodity, and like today, the Egyptians used the technique to protect and conserve them.
Image: Portable chest, from the Tomb of Tutankhamun, New Kingdom (cedar & ebony with ebony veneer and inlaid ivory) www.meisterdrucke.uk
Two major factors to be taken into consideration when discussing wood veneers are cost and sustainability. Wood is an expensive material, especially when it comes to exotic hardwoods such as the highly sought-after Brazilian Rosewood. The cost of solid hardwoods makes it prohibitive to use in all but specialist furnishings and fittings where price is not a consideration. However, veneers allow the normal person to appreciate the beauty of natural wood without breaking the bank
The elegant Sandhurst bedside unit has a solid Oak base which supports Oak veneer cabinetry. Also available in this range is the Sandhurst 4-drawer chest. From the Leonardo – Tables by Design collection
Technically, a veneer is a thin cut of wood that is glued to both sides of a core surface, most often furniture grade MDF (medium density fibreboard), which is a form of engineered wood. The applied veneer seals and stabilizes the MDF and eliminates any expansion and contraction, a problem that is commonly found in solid woods during temperature changes. This is why veneers have become essential in cabinetry and panelling where it is ideal for drawers and anything housing a mechanism where any warping or splitting would be detrimental.
Many confuse veneers and laminates as the same thing and nothing could be further from the truth. Laminates are paper and plastic based material which is bonded under pressure with resins and applied to a substrate. It is regularly sold in ready-cut lengths and widths for use as shelving or counter tops. Some plastic laminates are printed with a wood grain finish which will wear and fade over time. Be sure of what you are buying.
The Cone is a multi-tasking table that you’ll find indispensable in your home. The dimensions have been sensibly scaled for use as a small dining table, ideal for use in small apartments or in an entrance lobby or reception room. The Conical base makes a strong visual statement and is the perfect foil for the table top’s subtle undercut-edge design. Both base and top are manufactured in Oak Veneer treated with a Monocoat finish. The German-developed Monocoat contains 0% VOC’s which ticks all the boxes in the green home. It is also highly water resistant and easy to maintain with a quick wipe of a cloth
An eco-friendly house goes beyond the building materials and décor. With planned obsolescence a fact of life, when replacing home appliances choose energy-efficient star labelled items. These appliances consume less energy and water, helping to lower utility bills and reduce your carbon footprint
Go a step further and incorporate water-saving fixtures and practices in your home or building. Install low-flow showerheads, mixers, and toilets to minimize water usage. Consider adding a rainwater harvesting system for outdoor use, or greywater systems to recycle water from sinks and showers for irrigation.
Recycling in the home is a common practice and the emphasis on single-use products and reusable alternatives. If you haven’t already, set up recycling stations in your home to separate recyclables properly. For those of you fortunate enough to have gardens, build a compost heap for garden cuttings and kitchen waste.
The internet is a treasure-trove of information about all aspects of eco-friendly design and sustainable living, and an invaluable source when considering an eco-friendly makeover of your home.
We hope you enjoyed this month’s look at eco-friendly design and that you feel inspired to join this important trend. We are experts in creating exciting furniture ranges to suit all home, hospitality and corporate needs. Chat to our team to find out how we can bring our 30+ years of experience to your table.
Yours in Style - Frank