From investing in reused design classics to picking planet-friendly paints, a sustainable home is easier – and cheaper – than you think, says Charlotte Page
Console table, mirror, floor lamp, coffee table, shell sculptures, vase, all arteriorshome.com
All you need is pre-love
Antique, vintage and second-hand pieces have never been so popular ‒ not only because of their singular style but also for eco-conscious customers they are sustainability gold. First, they already exist, so no new energy has been used to create them – and, clearly, they are made to last. Small changes make a big difference, so salvaging second-hand furniture is a step in the right direction.
@hauz.and.co. Green choices include fast-growing woods such as oak and bamboo; look out for cork, natural stone, linen and recycled glass, metal and plastic
Always read the label
While many brands are offering authentic eco-friendly products, others are ‘greenwashing’ ‒ falsely marketing items as ‘sustainable’ when they’re anything but. When shopping around it’s worth reading the small print about materials. Green choices include fast-growing woods such as oak and bamboo; look out for cork, natural stone, linen and recycled glass, metal and plastic. Ones to avoid are anything that’s hard to recycle, single-use plastics and polyester. It may take a little research, but it’s worth it in the long term.
Walls painted in Bleu Turc, £51 for 2.5 litres, edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk. Bed, from £1,500, naturalmat.co.uk. Pendant light, £385, tomraffield.com
Try this masterstroke
When it comes to decorating it’s no longer just about the colour that we put on our walls – there’s a new focus on what the paint is made of as many conventional solvent-based paints have higher levels of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which impact on air quality, triggering allergic reactions, asthma and nausea.
This is why eco paints are on the rise with many brands refocusing ranges to offer less polluting, more sustainable options ‒ better for the planet and our health. A brand to check out is Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, which offers pioneering formulas made from plant-based ingredients. Its manufacturing process is environmentally responsible, too, with the brand aiming to make its products in the UK to reduce its transport carbon footprint.
Bone China Blue, £28 for 2.5 litres, littlegreene.com; Home Grown, £25 for 1 litre, coatpaints.com; Florence, £41 for 1 litre, edwardbulmerpaint.co.uk; Fresh Peach, £21 for 1 litre, yescolours.com
Floor lamp, £299, Anglepoise x National Trust, anglepoise.com
Switch up your lighting
Illuminating our homes in style has never been easier – and it can be eco-efficient and affordable, too. Simply by swapping your bulbs to LEDs you can use up to 90 per cent less energy and have a better quality of light. Designers are also sourcing and developing more environmentally sound products at the same time as questioning their brand’s eco credentials. With its Guaranteed for Life scheme, Anglepoise is challenging ‘fast interiors’ by offering to repair, service or replace any of its products. This is an excellent outlook on product lifecycle – and a thumbs-up from us.
Revamping a bathroom can be a big project
Rethink, reuse, refresh
Revamping a bathroom can be a big project, and if you’re ripping out the old to create new, it’s likely your unwanted fittings will end up in landfill. Before you start your project it’s worth having a conscious decorating plan, says Pia Pelkonen, creative director of piadesign.co.uk – an eco-friendly interior design firm based in the UK. ‘We source locally with flooring from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified sources that guarantees products are from well-managed forests. We use porcelain tiles, which are free of VOCs. When it’s not possible to reuse materials, longevity is the best form of sustainability – by choosing quality fittings that will last another 40 years.’
The brands to bookmark
Naturalmat Your one-stop shop for 100 per cent natural and sustainably resourced mattresses; naturalmat.co.uk.Rise And Fall uses the highest-quality materials for its clothing and bedding ‒ the latter is made with 100 per cent renewable energy; riseandfall.co.Victorian Dreams offers a furniture restoration service alongside furniture and fabrics. Ask advice from its skilled and knowledgeable staff; victorian-dreams.co.uk.Merchant & Found has an assortment of vintage and upcycled timeless furniture and accessories; merchantandfound.com.Custom Fronts will help you transform your Ikea kitchen carcasses with its high-quality design-led cabinet doors, drawers, panels, plinths and worktops. Handcrafted kitchens without the high price tag; customfronts.co.uk.Graphenstone stocks a range of eco-friendly mineral-based paints and coatings made from lime using a 100 per cent natural production cycle; graphenstone.co.uk.
And for extra eco points…
Try sustainable-design pro Amy Powney’s simple hacks
Keep it neutral: Opt for a simple base which won’t need constantly updating. In our home we used wood flooring by Dinesen teamed with white walls and added greenery, furniture and ceramics for details.
Cut your stuff: I recently decluttered my entire house inside and out. For me, a clear and fresh house is a clear and fresh mind. The place is always tidy now and allows more time to appreciate and enjoy living in it.
Add the lush factor: Accessorise your home with green and living plants. There is something hugely positive about watching things grow ‒ so plants not only look great but also enhance your life.
Pick forever pieces: If you’re set on an investment item, select a piece which you know you can either keep for ever or resell. I love ceramics and my favourites are by Alison Lousada and Tracy Dixon.
Shop smarter: For everyday items, do your research and buy better: look at a brand’s approach to sustainability and ethics before purchasing. I recently launched my second sustainable bedding collection with John Lewis, demonstrating you can find contemporary design with an attitude that doesn’t cost the earth.