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Interiors: Making a house an eco-friendly home

“Humans have a long history of using materials from their surroundings to create durable living spaces.” As Ryan Windsor, development director and co-founder of Cambridge architecture firm WindsorPatania, tells Velvet, sustainable building and interior design is both age-old and on-trend

You may think sustainable architecture is a new trend, however it’s better referred to as a returning trend.

Humans have a long history of using materials from their surroundings to create durable living spaces and it is only relatively recently that we are using more artificial and non-natural materials.

Throughout this history, natural materials have continued to appeal to us alongside new human-created ones. The use of wood and marble, for example, have never gone out of fashion.

Recently, there has been a renewed focus on the use of more sustainable, and often more natural, materials. Architects and designers are exploring new ways to use such materials while creating spaces where people can connect with their surroundings and experience a sense of belonging and community.

In this article, we explore four sustainable interior design trends for 2022 that can lighten up your home.

Natural Materials

Natural Materials (54657630)
Natural Materials (54657630)

Using the right materials can go a long way in making your interior longer-lasting and creating a timeless character. Natural colours and textures in your home decor can help create a relaxing and soothing atmosphere.

Bamboo, for example, is a trending natural material with different uses in interior design. Bamboo flooring, offset with clean and light-coloured walls, can create a fresh and natural look that opens up any room. Bamboo floors can also be as durable as the best hardwoods - look at The Bamboo Flooring Company, which supplies flooring and finishing in different colours and sizes.

Another material to consider is cork, an eco-friendly material that can be used for both walls and flooring. The Cork Flooring Co. is one example of a company that specialises in cork flooring tiles.

Image: The cabinets in this contemporary kitchen are made from sustainable bamboo (library image)

Biophilic Design

Biophilic Design (54657623)
Biophilic Design (54657623)

Nothing screams eco-friendly more than just having lots of lovely plants around your home.

Not only do they look good, but they also add a fresh touch to your house and provide more oxygen.

This trend, the use of nature in our indoor environment, is formally referred to as Biophilic Interior Design.

It comes from the word Biophilia , meaning ‘love of nature’. Biophilic Design focuses on creating a calming space through a visual connection with nature to improve wellbeing, health and productivity.

Designers can embrace biophilia by using natural finishes and organic forms, along with plenty of plants.

This trend will see more vegetation, including plants and greenery, within the home, along with natural light, textures and materials, such as rattan, cane and raffia.

Bosco Verticale - which translates as ‘vertical forest’ - in Milan, Italy, is a perfect example of a biophilic design. A pair of residential towers in the Porta Nuova district, it provides a direct connection between humans and nature via an abundance of trees and other plants, which the designers say is equivalent to 10,000 square metres of forest.

Image: Bring the beauty of the outdoors in with plentiful planters and even a living wall (library image)

Reusing and Restyling

Reusing and Restyling (54657631)
Reusing and Restyling (54657631)

Reusing items you already own, rather than replacing them, is another great form of sustainability.

During the pandemic, the reusability trend has gained popularity as being primarily home-based has inspired people to creatively and imaginatively redecorate their spaces.

For example, reusing and repairing an old desk to give it a second life is not only eco-friendly but it’s currently also fashionable and it keeps money in your pocket.

By giving old material a second life, you create unique pieces with a hybrid feel, while at the same time extending the lifetime of the items and materials you are reviving.

Image: A coffee table made from reclaimed pallet wood makes a stylish and sustainable statement (library image)

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency (54657624)
Energy Efficiency (54657624)

Considering the central role of energy in the drive for sustainability, heating and lighting are two interesting design factors you have influence over.

You can greatly reduce energy bills while also helping the planet with simple but subtle choices.

For example, carpets are excellent thermal insulators. According to estimations, a carpet retains as much as 10% of a room’s heat.

Since carpets insulate against both cold and heat, retain warmth in rooms, and give the psychological feeling of warmth, they are great to help save on heating energy.

In terms of lighting, a lot can be done just by picking the right colours.

Lighter colours reflect more light, while rooms with darker walls and furnishing need more artificial lighting.

Using reflective surfaces can further increase the amount of light in a room by bouncing it around, further decreasing the dependency on artificial lighting.

Image: Carpeting can retain as much as 10% of a room’s heat (library image)

From introducing plants and natural materials to thinking about energy efficient choices and giving old furniture a new life, there are plenty of eco trends to consider for your next home improvement, whether for an existing property or new build.

While not an exhaustive list, hopefully this overview does get you thinking about making your interior greener and eco-friendlier, and perhaps also more calming and relaxing, too.

About WindsorPatania

Founded in 2017 by Italian-born architect Giovanni Patania and prominent British developer Ryan Windsor, WindsorPatania is an architecture firm with offices in London, Cambridge, and Liverpool. “A multicultural team of 10 architects, designers, and industry experts, undertaking high-end projects across the UK, our approach to architecture embraces simplicity and style,” say the team. “In bringing neglected buildings to life, we create transformational spaces that are inspiring, accessible, and durable. It is our mission to design carefully considered spaces that are sustainable, leave a lasting impression, and positively impact people’s lives.”

For more see windsorpatania.com.

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