5 Excellent Sustainable Ideas From Our Tours
Changing a few things around your home? Read this round-up of tried and tested ideas for renovating sustainably first
Unless you’re renovating an old or listed building, it might not have occurred to you to explore the idea of using lime plaster, which is often associated with heritage projects.
So why should you consider it? Unlike cement plaster, the lime-based version is carbon-neutral and can be crushed and recycled.
Lime plaster, used in this restoration by Ecospheric, helps to create a healthy home environment: it’s porous, so it allows walls to breathe and reduces damp; it helps to absorb harmful gases; it’s naturally antibacterial, and it also has large, air-filled pockets, so it insulates well. On top of this, it’s extremely durable due to its flexibility.
Using lime-based paints on top will keep the surface porous, as these share many of the same properties.
Check out the rest of this eco-friendly Victorian house.
If you’re addicted to TV’s The Repair Shop, you’re probably already on board with this simple, old-fashioned idea, which can add character and history to a home, as well as being brilliantly sustainable: look after your things!
A key takeaway we reported from the 2019 London Design Festival came from a panel discussion on how crucial it is to increase the life cycle of the products we use in our homes, as well as the importance of the circular economy. The discussion highlighted the valuable skills of restoration experts who can update old furniture.
An example from one of our Houzz Tours can be seen here, where Convert Construction restored and fitted a garden gate the homeowners had brought over from France.
See more of this home restored around French treasures.
Find a furniture restoration specialist in your area.
On a similar note, the perfect piece of furniture could already be staring you in the face. In this project, designer Claudia Dorsch transformed this room into a cosy snug, making one of the space’s focal points out of something the owners already had. This bookshelf and storage unit was white and, in the setting, looked a little bland.
By painting it black and installing lighting into the unit, Claudia turned it into a dramatic backdrop for her clients’ artworks, objets and books. It also now minimises the impact of the dark TV screen when it’s turned off.
Claudia explains that the owner is very sustainably minded and didn’t want anything to go to landfill if it could be avoided. So there was a lot of repurposing, moving, reframing of pictures, charity shop donating and vintage shopping.
Look around the rest of this renovated family home.
On a bigger scale, this project took the idea several steps further. When the owners of this Victorian property decided to build a larger extension at the back of their house, they were keen to reuse their existing kitchen in the new design as far as possible.
Going back to the company that designed or fitted your kitchen could be a good first step. “As the first kitchen had been made by us just eight years before, this made it much easier to reuse the cabinets, as the techniques and materials were all familiar for us to work with following our usual methods,” explains George Robinson of George Robinson Kitchens of this impressively reworked design.
There are also companies that specialise in upgrading and reconfiguring old kitchens to give them a new lease of life.
See how this bespoke kitchen was recycled in the new extension.
When James Macdonald of Macdonald Wright Architects gave his own Victorian home a dramatic eco renovation, he was up against the challenge of it being in a conservation area.
“The idea was to construct a modern, energy-efficient family home behind the existing Victorian façade,” James says. Among the many upgrades he introduced, one of the biggest was a roof-mounted solar water heating system by Viessmann.
“There are what’s called ‘evacuated tubes’ on the roof,” he says. “These take up around 2m sq of space, so it’s not for everyone. The sun beats down on them and heats up a metal plate inside. The heat from that goes into the storage tank, which is a bit bigger than a normal hot-water cylinder. The outlay may seem a lot – it was £1,600 [then] and then you need a new storage tank as well – but the payback is around seven or eight years. And you can probably get cheaper versions.”
Be inspired by the other green upgrades in this period home.
Do you have a sustainable renovation or design tip to share? Let us know in the Comments.