Sustainable Interior Design

Sustainability has an image problem

When someone says they’re an environmentalist, it often conjures up images of tree-hugging hippies, down-at-heel houses with chickens running rampant and a general lack of modern-day living standards. In fact, a friend of mine told me they wouldn’t consider living in a sustainable house because they like taking showers! For me to contribute to an attitude shift I need my house to be aesthetically pleasing AND to function like a normal house.

And that’s where my wonderful designer Denby Dowling comes in. I’ve asked Denby to write me some paragraphs on how she’s approached designing my home and the solutions she’s recommending within the constraints I have set her. Over to you Denby!!!

Our aim for The ImPossible House – and for every other sustainable renovation and build for that matter – is to challenge outdated views and perceptions about sustainable homes and their aesthetics. I want to create a beautifully designed, custom-fitted-and-furnished home for Laura, as we do for any designer home we have the privilege to deliver.

How will we achieve this?

By implementing a fully-integrated sustainable interior design scheme that considers the long-term impact and effects of materials used in both construction and furnishings.

We’ll hit our goals by designing with the basic sustainability fundamentals in mind: choosing materials which provide the highest contribution to thermal mass, insulation and passive design; determining an efficient and effective use of space and flow.

Through sourcing materials and furnishings from suppliers and artisans who live and produce in our local communities.

Through the selection of materials and furnishing sources that promote eco-friendly, safe and ethical manufacturing process.

Through recycling of building materials and “throwaway” items and by regenerating furnishings and decorative items.

Sustainable interior design research and collaboration

We’ll be truly sustainable by doing a great deal of research to find products, materials and furnishings that are authentic and in keeping with ethical practices and sustainability fundamentals. Unfortunately, there are a great number of pretenders out there who masquerade as “sustainably sourced”. See our blog: “Dodging the Greenwashing: How to Buy Truly Sustainable Building and Design Supplies“.

By saving energy through solar and energy-saving appliances such as 6-star rated ovens and fridges, induction cooktops and carefully considered lighting design. Saving water by investing in the right tapware, toilets, showers and recycled water systems.

And finally, and most importantly, by working symbiotically with Paul Adams from the outset of the project. The integration of architect and designer encourages an exchange of knowledge and ideas, helping create a beautiful, bespoke designer home that is not only sympathetic to the environment and the sustainability cause but to the individual client and the way they live.

Our approach to sustainable interior design

The interior finishes and furnishing scheme for a sustainability project deserve as much attention as the external fabric of the home. Through incorporating innovative products and suppliers we’ll be able to complete the entire sustainable interior design scheme and sections schedule for the ImPossible house using nothing but environmentally-friendly, ethically-produced, sustainable products and materials.

By embracing a life-cycle approach to the selection of materials and furnishings that includes second-hand, vintage, recycled, salvaged, up-cycled, and by investing in designer and bespoke pieces that will be loved, last forever and be passed on to future generations, we achieve the best form of sustainability. This approach sits at the core of sustainable interior design.

See my step-by-step breakdown for urban off-grid living

Everything I wish I’d known before I started

Sustainable interior design and materials

We’re using products like citrus-based paints which will be used both externally and internally on prefab timber walls, ceilings and for cabinetry finishes; hand-printed wallpapers and fabrics that use non-toxic dyes and paints; hand-made, kiln-fired ceramics for tiles, lighting and decorative items, made by local artisans; Australian hardwoods for flooring and custom-made furniture; hand-knotted floor rugs that use non-toxic dyes and materials including NZ wool and silk; tapware from Sussex, who recycle their brass to forge their beautiful designs; basins and toilets from Rocca who prioritise sustainability; recycled materials and products such as timbers, bricks, fabrics, light switches, points and furnishings; and finally, salvaged materials from the existing dwelling.

Our sustainable interior design collaborators

We would like to thank our collaborators to date:

ALTONE DESIGN: Bespoke furniture
PUBLISHER TEXTILES: Hand-printed wallpapers and fabrics
JULIETS BALCONY: Recycled, reclaimed furniture
REECE: Sustainable basins, tapware and toilets
PLANET FURNITURE: Handmade furniture, rugs and objects
REVERSE GARBAGE: Recyclables of all sorts
SKHEME TILES: Ethically produced / sustainable tiles
SUSSEX TAPS: Ethically produced / sustainable bathware
TRADE THE MARK: Bespoke ceramics and objects
THE CONTAINER BROS: Sustainable builders
VAMPT VINTAGE DESIGN: Recycled reclaimed furniture
WINDSOR BESPOKE HARDWARE: Bespoke door hardware