We live in a world where butterfly effect is not a mere concept, it’s a philosophy that many are constantly mindful of. Most people are to a certain extent aware that our habits and everyday choices carry a cumulative impact on the world at large. As Karen Marie Moning said, «Who and what we surround ourselves with is who and what we become…», and that statement becomes so valid when applied to not just people around us, but also the way we organise the most important place in our life – our home. If you are a person who understands that one’s surroundings have an impact on their wellbeing and mindset, you may also understand that these decisions impact the world at large as well. To make the most out of your interior design choices, you may want to consider looking into the field of sustainable design that would not only enrich your home with durable, dependable and stylish furnishings, but would also represent your values.
Examples of sustainable interior design choices vary greatly, coming in many shapes and sizes. Materials that can be used to achieve the goal of mindful, environment-conscious choice range from recycled ocean plastic and repurposed wood shavings to industrial waste and recycled smartphones. But it’s not just the material of the furniture or an appliance in question that makes it good for the purposes of mindfulness. For example, eco-friendly kitchen appliances, such as coffee machines, cookers and refrigerators that combine and embody the principles of high performance with low energy consumption work wonders with other solutions along these lines, which we will elaborate on further.
So what are the ways of combining these principles of sustainability and ergonomics of a modern interior design? If you’ve ever thought about going green with your interior design choices, then this comprehensive guide is the best place to start. By examining the various different types of sustainable interior design choices, you will be able to make informed decisions when it comes to furnishing and organizing your home.
Vintage or Antique Furniture: Reclaiming the Wisdom of the Generations Past…
Sustainable interior design is about more than just living a greener life. It also includes avoiding throwaway culture and making straits towards the overall goal of slowing down consumption and living a more sustainable life. Throwaway culture is an issue that affects the environment and the world at large. It stems from a mindset of disposability and abundance, which can be hard to change. The scope of the issue is vast and growing, but it’s important to be aware of it and make conscious, sustainable interior and exterior design choices as you fix up your home.
The throwaway culture is a societal system that produces goods and services with a short lifespan, the fate of which is often to be replaced by new products of a similar longevity. The practice contributes to an increased rate of consumption, which has a detrimental impact on the environment and human health. Furniture, in particular, plays a significant role in the creation of this unsustainable system. Modern furniture is often manufactured in a factory and shipped off to customers’ homes. But harms come from the mass-production of fast furniture, such as landfills growing and feeding off of toxic, inorganic, hard-to-recycle pieces. The average human throws away 2.5 kilograms of trash per day, and this statistic grows as populations expand. With so much waste being produced every year, it’s important that we do everything we can to reduce landfill contributions. One way to help is by purchasing furniture that has longer lifespans. Few people would admit they thrifted a beautiful vintage wooden vanity table or a dresser from a garage sale, fewer still see bringing old furniture from their parents’ and relatives’ places as a good idea. But falling into the rabbit hole of consumerism as an answer to a pressing question of how to live a more environment-conscious life solves none of the issues and doesn’t help the goal of making sustainable interior design choices.
In a world where natural resources are being depleted at a rate that can’t be reasonably and timely replenished, one of the possible answers is giving old furniture a new chance at life. A new coat of varnish on an antique wooden table and a deep clean of an aged couch can be the difference between another tree being cut and the forest remaining intact for one’s comfort. Mindful use and strategic approach to the choice of furniture is a key first step in considering how to improve your life and set it on a path to sustainability. Not to mention that the sentimental connection with the items that fill your home, appreciation of the craftsmanship that it took to make an item last for decades up to this point, as well as the knowledge of the items’ history, can be a great conversation starter when guests come over! Because nothing brings home more character and eclectic atmosphere than a unique vintage centrepiece in any given room.
… Or Embracing the Transformative Nature of Technology
On the other side of an argument against throwaway culture, there is an issue of cost-efficiency. Not everyone can afford an original vintage furniture even if you find it by chance, and knowing that, at times, those pieces require buying a whole set to help coordinating the interior, it can be stressful searching for that same mahogany armrest or a matching a custom end table and some would prefer not to bother. Just because you may not have time or resources to dive headfirst into furniture-hunting with a dedication and an eye of a seasoned thriftier doesn’t mean that you must throw away your aspirations for sustainable interior design. An option that is available for a more affordable, yet modern and eco-friendly option may lie with recycled furniture and appliances.
The sustainability of a piece of furniture is not only based on its life cycle, but also on its subsequent management. In practice, this means that when a piece of furniture reaches the end of its useful life it must be reused or recycled. This approach is understood as a circular economy, where nothing goes to waste, creating a positive result that requires an initial investment with great benefits for both people and nature. When you use materials that are more sustainable, with a less intensive extraction and processing, this can greatly help you create a space that is healthy for you and for the planet, as well as making this kind of furniture popularly priced.
The battle against plastic has long been a reality, as this is one of the most polluting materials on the planet. That’s why a great effort is being made to be able to reuse it once the product life cycle has ended by companies who make recycling practical and impactful to the world at large their mission. This means that many furniture pieces through their reuse and recycling end up being repurposed or assigned additional functions, changing people’s perspectives on how they view things that surround them every day. When it comes to sustainable furniture design and manufacturing, recycled polypropylene and plastic chairs and tables are now a reality. This type of furniture has a clean and simplistic feel to it, making it a good choice for people who prefer minimalistic modern interior home design to a more rustic equivalent. Recycled wood shavings do wonders for adding wooden accents to a room without requiring a whole lot of wood to be used in manufacturing, promoting and supporting greener productions that value sustainability and are making an effort to decrease their industrial footprint on the world.
Natural Daylight – Say “Yes” to a Floor-to-Ceiling
As you may have noticed, the idea of sustainability in interior home design, as well as a general concept, is tightly woven with an idea of eco-friendliness and environmentalism. One of the primary concerns when it comes to improving upon the world and doing due diligence in terms of lessening our impact on the world around us is optimizing electricity consumption for our everyday use. The most obvious and mundane point in this is the general need for keeping your home well lit, as sufficient lighting of your living space is a basic requirement for good health. Whether it is natural or artificial, medical studies have shown that people who are regularly exposed to natural light are less likely to become ill than others.
When we’re talking about architectural planning, the orientation of your home is the most important design decision you could make. And it’s one you can change later if needed–purchasing solar panels and installing heat pumps are neither difficult nor expensive, making this a good investment for the future. However, there are many ways to improve upon existing plans and structures. One of the best ways to maximize daylight potential for your needs is looking into incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows and doors into your interior, styling it in a way that makes it organic to the rest of your sustainable home design visions and aspirations.
Floor-to-ceiling windows are made up of large window panes that give the appearance of a glass wall. Typically, window walls are made of a combination of picture windows and awning windows. Depending on your design goals, home style and desired sightlines, other types of new construction windows can be used in these combinations, such as double-hung or casement windows. In new construction homes, floor-to-ceiling windows are windows that stretch from the floor to ceiling. These large windows are an excellent way to bring natural light into your home and blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces. There’s nothing quite like sitting in a room bathed in sunlight while gazing out at the landscape outside.
A wall of windows can create a great view, but it also has to be structurally sound enough to be used in a home. The engineering required for floor-to-ceiling windows is complex and must be done by an expert. If you do want to install a wall of windows without hiring an architect or engineer, make sure the home is built from a structure that can handle the extra weight.
Maximize The Potential of Your Home Site
Sustainable interior and exterior home design is about making the most of your surroundings, letting nothing go to waste and making sure that less harm is done in the process. This means designing with longevity and renewability in mind — both environmentally and fiscally — while respecting the land you’re building on. Whether designing a new building or retrofitting an existing building, site design must integrate with sustainable design to achieve a successful project and begins with the proper site selection, including the existing building’s rehabilitation. The location, orientation, and landscaping of a building all affect local ecosystems, transportation methods, and energy use.
As a building site’s environment, its natural resources and natural structures become more disturbed for purposes like irrigation and land use, and as a design progresses through natural resource design as an integrated unit, it’s important to take necessary steps to mitigate any existing flaws and try to preserve its stronger assets. Minimizing open space by building on disturbed land, re-using brownfield sites, and retrofitting existing buildings are some ways to optimize site potential.
One of the best ways to look for things that need attention and improvement is to remember what caught your eye in the property when you first laid your eyes upon it. Was it a good or unusual view from the windows? Perhaps you paid attention to something on the land around the property? Or, perhaps, the layout of your apartment was something you found yourself appreciating for its potential, if not for its existent features? Principles of sustainability stem from appreciation of finer details in what surrounds you, so looking at your home from the perspective of a stranger can help you greatly to see what needs to be worked on and improved upon in your interior and exterior design choices. This is something that an experienced professional in sustainable home design can clearly pinpoint, since they can indeed see your property with a fresh set of eyes.
Natural Resource Conservation For Cost-efficiency and Wellness
Although back in 1972 Stockholm Declaration laid out the fundamental ideas and principles for sustainable resource management and governance, the way the situation in world has developed many years later later is sobering. According to The International Resource Panel (IRP), an organisation launched by the United Nations Environment Programme, has found that the global material demand average per capita had grown from 7.4 tons of material in 1970 to 12.2 tons in 2017, with many significant and notable adverse impacts on our environment, and most notably – significantly increased greenhouse gas emissions. Keeping this information in mind, it is paramount that we think about ways of minimizing our impact on the environment through our choices, including, but not limited to, those of our home design.
The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) as measurable criteria of a building has a significant impact on occupant health, comfort, and productivity. Among other attributes, a sustainable building is the one that maximizes daylighting and allows for ample sunlight penetration, has appropriate ventilation systems and moisture control technologies in place, optimizes acoustic performance of the rooms, and avoids the use and implementation of materials with high-VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions. Smart home technologies can be extremely helpful in this endeavor, however it does require attention when choosing what sort of appliances you may need, as well as how much energy they use and if it can be helped in any way.
Some ideas that can help you conserve energy in your house include:
As well as incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows for natural lighting purposes, as discussed above, something that can help you maintain a certain level of temperature insulation is a layer of metallic oxide being applied to your windows. This can help with heat passing through your windows on both ends of it;
Tankless hot-water heaters are a great think for water conservation, as they don’t aggregate unnecessary amounts of water in your residence, but instead heats water effectively on demand;
Properly chosen and installed insulation of your home will keep you cool in the summer and warm during winter, saving you from needing AC intervention with following electricity expenditures and bills;
Dual-flush toilets are a must for water conservation, as they use two times less water than regular old model toilets. Newer high-pressure shower heads and faucets can also be implemented to maintain reasonable expenses when it comes to water consumption in your household.
Improving indoor air quality is often simple and relatively inexpensive, but the importance of air quality to our wellness cannot be overstated. Ensuring adequate ventilation and controlling sources of air pollutants by removing or reducing them can help improve air quality. Air purifiers can help reduce indoor air pollution, and indoor air quality monitors can help measure particulate matter and VOC levels. Make sure you test your home for radon and always have a working CO monitor. If needed, consider hiring a professional to perform specific types of tests or remove contaminants.
Optimizing Operational and Maintenance Practices
Choosing beautiful and sustainable design elements allows you to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on energy bills. In an effort to reduce global warming and our carbon footprint, we have a number of ways to make our homes more sustainable. We can use natural light instead of artificial lights, choose materials that are recyclable or recycled and make them stronger, create energy efficient homes and utilize alternative energy sources such as solar power.
How do solar panels work and why have they gained the trust of so many people? To sum it up, sunlight hits the solar panels and shakes up the electrons within the cells, which creates a flow of electricity that is then sent to the system’s solar inverter. The inverter converts the electricity into usable electricity that can power everything in your home, from your lights to your fridge.
Some solar panel systems also include a solar battery, which will store extra solar energy the panels produce for use later. Keep in mind, not all solar panels are installed with solar batteries. In fact, most solar panel systems are not paired with batteries, but they are becoming increasingly popular. The good news is that you can install and benefit from solar with no technical understanding of how solar works. Once the solar company installs the system, it runs itself and requires no involvement from the homeowner, helping you further reduce the maintenance costs of such an endeavour.
Reducing maintenance costs is about managing maintenance strategies and planning more effectively. An effective maintenance strategy involves maximizing equipment uptime and plant performance while balancing associated resource consumption and eventual costs. We must ensure that our investment is getting an adequate return, and investing in alternative power sources will give you adequate, if not hugely beneficial returns for years to come.
Support Small Businesses – Community before Corporations
Sustainability is not just about reducing waste but also about respecting labour conditions and human rights. Supporting small businesses is very important to the economy. It’s hard to imagine life without small businesses, even with so many large corporations that seem to be taking over.
Small businesses matter in today’s world for many reasons—job creation, exports and innovation—but perhaps the biggest impact they have is on local communities. Small businesses and private agencies generate revenue that converts to local taxes, feeding the local economy to create a better business within your community. And with that, your small business and school districts, police forces and other organizations will have the resources to support each other in creating and improving their products.
Small businesses are often located in the middle of a city or downtown areas. Because small businesses use already existing buildings, there is less labour and work involved than building a new mall or department store. Additionally, small businesses are ultimately good for the economy because they impact how we approach many different aspects of life by introducing us to their various values and personal story, which contrasts greatly with big corporations that polish themselves to perfection to avoid trouble.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. From sole proprietorships to partnerships, they are innovative and diverse. As such, they carry inventory and products that are fresh, new and different. To illustrate it with an example, an independent retailer will generally provide unique products that are unable to be found at larger retailers. And much like that, AA Architectural Services will be a great choice to provide you with a wide range of services and help you bring your aspirations for sustainable interior and exterior home designs to life!