The following post is written by guest author Lucy Clara Cooper, an inspiring interior and wedding photographer. Before we get stuck in, head over to www.instagram.com/mykindlifestyle to see what we are talking about! And then come back here for lots of interesting insights into sustainable renovations. Now on to Lucy!
Creating a sustainable home can seem like a daunting task. There are many reasons people feel like it’s an unattainable goal - It’s too expensive, too difficult or too time-consuming, you might feel like you have to sacrifice luxuries or have visions of an overabundance of rattan and hemp. I’m hoping I can shatter all those misconceptions (except the later, I’m a hippy at heart so there’s always a small place for them in my home, as long as it’s stylish and considered).
Renovating or decorating with sustainability in mind can be the complete opposite if you let it. It’s fulfilling and gratifying, it can teach you to slow down, and when you do, you will find you make wiser, more considered choices, not only for the planet but for your bank balance as well, with zero sacrifices of quality or luxury. I’ve taken a little bit of time to put together 3 tips to creating a more sustainable home:
1. Minimise waste
Whether you are starting from scratch or moving from another fully formed home, the most important piece of advice I can offer is to not rush into throwing things away. Really mull over whether you can find a home for them in your new house. If something isn’t to your liking anymore, can you up-cycle the item and give it a new lease of life? Sometimes it’s as simple as spraying it a different colour, replacing the old handles to make it fit with your styling, reupholstering it with a different fabric to make it look more modern or even sanding and staining an item a different shade to give it a whole new aesthetic. The possibilities are endless. If you just can’t bring yourself to keep it, consider selling it instead of throwing it away, someone will love it just as much as you once did. Failing that, please recycle it, or donate it. Renovations are a huge source of waste, so the more you can save from landfill the better. Besides, you might just fall in love with that freshly spruced up dresser after all your hard work up-cycling. It’s a gratifying experience.
2. Never discount a good idea. It might just save you money!
Give yourself time. I am the most impatient person ever. I am impulsive, I change my mind in a flash and I rush into decisions because I want everything to be perfect immediately. With a renovation, that simply isn’t how things happen. Every single decision needs to be a smart one, it needs to be considered and planned, chosen based on how you will use it, live in it and benefit from it. Slow down, take as much time as you need to make a decision and research, research, research. There is always a sustainable, ethical alternative for every single item in your home. ALWAYS. Let me give you a personal example -
We searched the internet for weeks, looking for a bathroom basin unit that fits with our style. Could we find one suitable? Nope! Everything was expensive, made out of plastic or not quite right for our style. So one day, we were browsing on Pinterest and Graham jokes about using a waney edge piece of wood as a floating shelf - My reply, ‘Why not though?’. Seriously, why couldn’t we have a wooden bathroom shelf? Pinterest was showing us all sorts of beautiful options, and yes, it seemed a little out of our reach and price range, but we’d never know unless we tried. We researched local sawmills who source from sustainable forests, and a short 30-minute drive away we found exactly what we were looking for. I popped over one day with my Mum in tow, and by sheer luck found the perfect piece, in the perfect shape with the perfect little hole in it, to hang our hand towels over. And do you know how much it cost us? A whopping £19!! We saved ourselves about £150!!
Since that day we’ve planned to make lots more of our own furniture around the house using the same local sawmill, a bit of imagination and elbow grease. A perfect combination if you ask me. We also chose chemical-free paint, ceramic sinks instead of acrylic (again at a huge saving after some research), wooden doors, a handmade wooden dining table, a handmade wooden desk and we are still working hard on the rest. With a little bit of time, we’ve managed to turn our home into a more sustainable enjoyable place to live, with the bonus of saving money.
3. Don’t forget your local small suppliers
Has the time come to start styling? Then your sustainable journey is only just beginning, and this is the really exciting part. The temptation to run out and start buying all new things will be high at this point. I mean, nobody likes an empty wall or a bare looking chest of drawers, am I right? But just hold your horses! Vintage and charity shops are full to bursting with once-loved items which need a beautiful new home. Thrifting is the perfect way to reduce waste and bring something full of character and charm into your home. You might just find the perfect item.
Can’t find what you are looking for? Then there are so many incredible small businesses out there that offer beautiful one-of-a-kind products that adhere to both circular economic practices and closed-loop production methods, businesses that care about their products and put all they can into the design and production of their items. These products are the ones you really want. Trust me! The ones that have no impact on our beautiful planet. Take some time to find the right items for you and your home. From curtains, bed linen, crockery, and accessories, there is an ethical alternative out there for all of them, you simply have to find them.
Thank you so much, Lucy, for sharing your experiences with renovating sustainably. Make sure to follow Lucy at www.instagram.com/mykindlifestyle for interior inspiration and check back here for more new blog posts coming soon!
All photo credits go to Lucy Clara Cooper. :)