Green is my favourite colour - could it be yours too?
8 min read
Published 28 Jun 2021
When it comes to renovating our homes, there are a huge number of things to think about - budgets, colours, flooring, furniture and finishes, and lighting, as well as organising any building work which needs to be done. Keeping on top of all these things can often feel like a mammoth task, so understandably, we don’t really want to increase the pressure by adding in anything else. But I think there is one more consideration which deserves to be on the list - the impact our renovation project can have on the planet.
I’ve had a few clients come to me recently with requests that their new spaces not only be beautiful and inspiring, but also that they are as eco-friendly as possible. This got me thinking about the challenge of marrying up our need for newness in the home with the need to be careful with our planet’s resources. Can we redesign and renovate our homes in a sustainable way? Is this really possible? As I have sometimes said to clients, I have wondered if I’m in the wrong job when it comes to being green.
Despite the growing movement against the trend of automatically replacing old with new, there is a feeling that trying to source homewares in a sustainable way is more expensive and very time consuming. The interior design and home furnishings industry is all about replacing old with new and selling furniture and finishes to us. To support suppliers, manufacturers and retailers all over the world, we rely on and encourage newness. There are a lot of people making money from telling us what the trends are, and that we should be keeping our homes fresh and up to date if we want them to look good.
So what can an interior designer do when faced with creating a new look for a home? As Kermit the frog once said, it’s not easy being green, but I think there are lots of ways to reduce our impact whilst renovating, and most of them don’t cost a fortune. I’m sure if you think about it, many of us are doing some of these things without even realising that we are ‘being green’.
My advice when tackling a new project whilst thinking about sustainability (or any new project for that matter) would be to follow these steps.First, think about the items that really need replacing and if they can be used somewhere else in your home. Sometimes just moving pieces around from one room to another can have a huge impact on the way your home looks and functions, and this doesn’t cost a penny. Is there a sideboard which could work really well in the hallway as a place to put things when you come in the door, or to hide shoes and hats etc? If I have a client who has a beautiful piece of furniture that they might be tired of, I try to encourage them to look at it in a new way, and find a purpose for it. I had some clients a few years ago who wanted to replace all of their original Ercol dining room furniture because they had had it since they got married and it looked outdated to them. These were beautiful, solid pieces of furniture which still had many years of use left in them, so I showed them how well made everything was and explained that it would be very expensive to replace all of it with a similar quality of furniture. I also showed them images of how people are using this style of Mid Century furniture in new ways, mixing and matching with other pieces of furniture, and how it could be made to look new and interesting to them again. As an example, here’s a design I completed with a vintage Mid Century sideboard:
I also have another client who has a very comfortable, well made sturdy sofa which was manufactured over 20 years ago, but is still going strong. Instead of trying to replace it, we have decided to have it reupholstered in a fab new fabric, which will extend its life and look amazing in her new room. She chose a good quality, well made piece in the first place, so it was an easy decision to keep it and breathe new life into it. The idea is to try not to be wasteful or to get rid of items which still have useful life in them - even if you don’t love these pieces anymore, there will be someone out there who does. Which brings me to my next point - if you can’t reuse the items, you can recycle or ‘upcycle them’ and then pass them on to someone who will give them a new home.
You can have a go at doing this yourselves, as it's often easier than you think, or you can call in an expert who does this everyday. One of my favourite upcyclers on Instagram is Elizabeth Dot Design, who produces some spectacular pieces - she takes items that would have been thrown away, works her magic on them and then sells them to someone who will love them for years to come. If you fancy having a go yourself, here’s some inspiration from a project I completed for my own home, upcycling a cheap Ikea cupboard to give it new life:
Some people are happy to upcycle or paint their existing furniture to create a new look, but what can we do if we really don’t like our stuff or want a complete change? The next best thing is to buy existing items that someone else no longer needs or wants. This can take many forms - a vintage chair, reclaimed floorboards from a reclamation yard, or reconditioned lighting to name a few. The clever people at Skinflint Lighting specialise in taking vintage lights and reconditioning them to make them usable and beautiful again. Another of my favourites, Bert and May, who make beautiful tiles, also have a huge collection of reclaimed tiles which have been restored and are ready to be relaid to bring the gorgeousness all over again.
|So if we can reuse or recycle, that’s great, but what about buying new? When we do decide to buy new items for our homes, if we can take a little bit of time to think about the materials they are made from, how they have been made, and how far they have travelled to get to us, then we are sourcing responsibly.|
I recently designed a living room for a client who wanted to make the project as sustainable as possible, so I started by looking at furniture which was made from recycled materials. I found this beautiful side table made from reclaimed oak, which is a great use of old materials that would otherwise have gone into landfill. Using recycled wood also meant that no new wood was needed to make it, which also saved a few trees.
the reclaimed oak side table from Cox & Cox
Here’s my finished design:
I also sourced a bench made from recycled teak to go under the bay window for this client, but when I couldn’t find vintage pieces or items made from recycled materials for every piece of furniture needed, the next best thing was to specify pieces made from sustainable woods such as Mango and Mindi wood. These woods are great because they grow very quickly (15 years from start to finish), and the suppliers I chose make sure that new trees are planted regularly so there is a steady yield of wood before all of it is harvested. The frames for the sofa and armchair in this design are made from fast growing Scandinavian Birch, which is harvested in a similar way. The seating is constructed in Britain so the pieces will travel shorter distances to get to the client, reducing their carbon footprint.
With this design I also specified chemical free paint from Earthborn, which is water based and doesn’t contain any plastics in the form of polymers used to bind the paint together. Even gloss and satin wood paint finishes these days are water based and don’t use any oil. And because they don’t contain oil, the bonus is that white colours don’t turn yellow over time, as it’s the oil that creates the yellowing process.
I’ve spoken about rugs made from recycled plastic bottles before, which are very soft and you would never know that there was any plastic in them, but technology has improved so much that there are now fabrics available for curtains and upholstery which are made from 100% recycled plastics, wool and acrylics. The Sustainable Collection from Kirkby Design has four different designs in these new fabrics, and lots of lovely colours to choose from. Another naturally eco-friendly fabric is linen. The flax plant it is grown from needs no extra watering other than from rainwater, so growing it uses much less energy than producing cotton, and it needs far fewer pesticides and fertiliser than to grow other crops. Linen itself is very hard wearing, so it is a great choice for sofas and other furnishings as it will naturally last a long time.
|These are just a few of the many ways that you can redecorate and redesign your home in a more responsible way, which won’t cost us the earth. There are also many things you can do when renovating or having any building work done, and I think I might need to write another blog post with more ideas rather than cramming it all into one post.
I think the most important thing you can do when redecorating and renovating is to really think about your true interiors style. Once you’ve worked it out, if you express your unique style with every project, you won’t be following a trend which will quickly be replaced with another one. You’ll naturally be creating a sustainable interior which you can enjoy for years to come.
Welcome to my design blog, where you'll see posts about anything from the projects we are working on, to the latest fabric and wallpaper collections, and 'how to' guides for all things interiors related. I love colour and pattern, architecture and old buildings, and I especially love the moment when you see something so beautiful it makes you take a sharp intake of breath.
28 Apr 2022
|This month, we were pleased as punch to receive the Best Homes & Interiors award from the prestigious Cardiff Life Awards. Cardiff Life Magazine are well-known champions of our city, and the annual awards celebrate the best of Cardiff talent, so we are over the moon to be named 2022 winners!|
Morris & Co. X Ben Pentreath
28 Mar 2022
|The designs of William Morris have made a comeback over recent years, and now they have been given a striking makeover by interior designer Ben Pentreath. The Queen Square Collection has reimagined some of Morris's most famous fabrics and wallpapers in rich tones and vibrant colourways. You can see the collection here.|
28 Feb 2022
|One of my favourite design houses, Woodchip & Magnolia, have gone all out for the all over pattern trend and produced wallpapers and fabrics in the same prints, which I love. You can see the whole stunning collection here.|
New fabric collection from Prestigious Textiles
28 Jan 2022
|A new collection of sumptuous fabrics has just been released from Prestigious Textiles, called Monsoon. The collection includes tactile velvets, animal motifs, embroideries and beautiful sheers, so it's versatile enough to use anywhere in your home. If you'd like to know more about these fabrics, please get in touch.|
New reeded glass pendants from Mullan Lighitng
28 Nov 2021
|Lighting designers and manufacturers Mullan Lighting have a new range of reeded glass pendant lights available. These Mid Century inspired lights come in three shapes and four finishes, but the Nahla (the one pictured above) is my favourite. You can see the range here.|
Little Greene and Bert & May join forces
28 Oct 2021
Little Greene has announced a collaboration with tile brand Bert & May. The collection sees eight gorgeous Little Greene shades translated onto tiles, giving you even more opportunity to add colour, texture, and a mix of materials to every area of your home. I love this bathroom combination above, with the perfectly matched tiles and paint offset with touches of terracotta, mustard and oak. You can see the full collection here.
Dulux colour of the year - Bright Skies
29 Sep 2021
So, Dulux have announced their colour of the year for next year, and here it is! Bright Skies is described as the 'breath of fresh air' that we all need after being indoors for so long. What do you think? I'm reserving judgement at the moment. It looks a little cold in the picture, but I don't think the beige sofa and the styling are doing it any favours here. Maybe colour drenched (painted on walls, ceilings, trims and doors) and with some warmer burgundies and terracotta, it could be lovely. You can buy the colour here.
A new home collection from Paloma Faith
28 Aug 2021
|British singer songwriter Paloma Faith has recently launched her first collection for the home. It includes wallpapers, fabrics, cushions and bedding, and she describes the look as 'faded grandeur and retro maximalism'. The prints are everything I love - dramatic, colourful and fun, and you can see more of the collection here.|
It's all about soft yellows
28 Jul 2021
|I was watching an Instagram live post from The Little Greene Paint Company last week, and they were discussing a comeback for yellow. Now, as you know, I don't think you have to follow the trends but yellow hasn't been fashionable for a long time, so this sunny, uplifting shade is often overlooked. A warm yellow like Little Green's Carys (above) is perfect for cheering us all up, and you can buy it here.|
The cushion that gives back
28 Jun 2021
|Introducing the cushion that gives back, from homewares company Oka. They have produced this cushion in partnership with The Trussell Trust who support two thirds of the UK's food banks, and 100% of the proceeds from sales of this lovely green velvet cushion will be donated by Oka to The Trussell Trust. It comes in a range of other colours too, and you can buy the cushion here.|
A beautiful new tile collection inspired by the National Trust
28 May 2021
|Just launched, Ca Pietra a new tile collection in collaboration with the National Trust. Every tile has been inspired by one of the historic properties, gardens or coastlines looked after by the Trust, and a minimum of £10,000 from sales of the tiles will be given to the National Trust to help them continue their important work. You can see the collection here.|
Yummy new switch & socket colours
28 Apr 2021
|Did you ever think that your light switches were good enough to eat? I'm guessing the answer is no, until now. You can now buy switches and sockets in these gorgeous colours from the new Dowsing & Reynolds Cafe Culture collection. They come in luscious shades like Cinnamon, Caramel Latte and Whipped Cream, so you can tone, coordinate or contrast with your wall colours and make every part of your interior scheme look delicious. You can buy the gorgeousness from here.|
A sustainable fabric choice
29 Mar 2021
|A beautiful new sustainable fabric range from Clarke and Clarke has just been launched. It's made entirely from recycled materials so you can refresh your home with a clear conscience. You can have a look at the fabric here. Get in touch with me if you'd like to buy any of this fabric.|
Sought & Styled - Preloved items given new life
28 Feb 2021
|This month I want to highlight a business run by a very talented lady I met a few years ago (remember when we could meet people?) Not only is she a creative interior designer, she also runs an online shop where she reuses and repurposes anything from soft furnishings to larger furniture items. Everything sold is bespoke and unique, and is effortlessly waste conscious because it's being used again. You can visit her shop here.|
Do kitchen worktops bore you?
27 Jan 2021
|Thanks to a genius idea from kings of pattern Blackpop, you can now have one of their colourful designs on your kitchen worktop. They will put any of their funky fabric or wallpaper designs onto waterproof MDF to make you a unique worktop, or they can even make a design just for you. Chopping will never look the same again! You can buy the worktops from their website here.|
A Fresh Take - Cardiff Life feature
18 Dec 2020
|This month's issue of Cardiff Life Magazine is out today, and features an interiors special, because one thing this past year has made us do is take a new look at our homes and how we'd like to live in them. To see what I and other local interiors experts have to say on the subject, including a round up of the trends for 2021, have a flick through the digital mag here.|
An enchanting inaugural wallpaper collection from Tom Baker
26 Nov 2020
|This opulent and atmospheric wallpaper from Tom Baker immerses you in a world of tropical flora, fauna and exotic animals. With soft cool tones and hints of pink floral detailing, this is the perfect wallpaper to add a relaxing and exciting edge to your home. Find this enchanting collection here.|
A new shady collaboration between Matthew Williamson and Pooky
20 Oct 2020
|The humble lampshade is often overlooked, but with the new collaboration between Pooky and Matthew Williamson they won't be for much longer! Matthew Williamson has applied his talent to design a new range of Pooky lampshades. Whatever your taste, colour scheme or budget you will find the perfect lampshade for your home in this new collection which is now available. This spectacular new collection can be found here.|
Felt covered curtain poles
17 Sep 2020
Now you can add some texture to your window dressing with these Walcot House felt covered poles. The pure wool coverings come with a option for bronze or steel fittings and wide spans up to six metres. The curtain track is cleverly hidden within the wooden curtain pole and there's a choice of nearly 50 colours and textures. You can find out more here.
Please vote for my blog
11 Aug 2020
|I'm really thrilled to have been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog Award this year! If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to vote for me, I'm nominated in the Best Interior Designer Blog category, and you can vote for me here.|
Upcoming interiors trends from Love Rugs
10 Jul 2020
|Love Rugs, the people who know about all things rugs have just published a feature on the upcoming interiors trends for 2020. They asked six of the UK's top interior designers (including me!) to tell them what the upcoming trends are, and in particular the changes we will be making to their homes. The article can be read here, and if you'd like to have a look at the huge range of rugs they offer, click here.|
A new fabric collection from Linwood Fabrics
15 Jun 2020
|I love Linwood fabrics - they have a fab way of mixing colour and pattern into something really special, producing fabrics and wallpapers that make me want to coo. This new collection, available at the end of June, is just as gorgeous. It's called Kami, with the pattern inspired by a 19th Century document. The collection is a range of printed velvets, so perfect for upholstery and accessories like cushions.|
An easy way to update your kitchen
16 Apr 2020
|If you are looking to update your existing Ikea kitchen rather than replace it, Stockholm based company Superfront are here to help. They sell a range of fronts, handles, legs and tops to fit not just the Faktum kitchen range but also the Besta, Metod and Pax ranges - so you can customise anything from your sideboard to your wardrobe. These super cute round handles are part of their new birch collection, and the whole range can be found here|
Move over boring taps - colour is the new black
13 Mar 2020
|Colour has been taking over our kitchens and bathrooms for a while now (yay!), and has slowly been creeping into sanitaryware and fittings. These perfectly coloured mint green and pastel pink taps from the new Miami Colour Pop Collection from amazing homeware brand Dowsing & Reynolds are spot on and would look gorgeous in any kitchen or bathroom to add a shot of colour without overwhelming with sugary sweetness. You can learn more about this new collection here.|
Who knew a door stop could look this good?
19 Feb 2020
|Door stops are one of those little annoying things that we all need, but are not the prettiest to look at. Now London based Buster & Punch have turned their attention to the problem and transformed the humble door stop into something cool and covetable. They might cost more than your average one from a DIY store, but as you're going to see it every day, why not look at something beautiful? here.|
Wallpaper made of cork?
29 Oct 2019
|Sustainability and concern for our environment are key in the interiors world right now (as they should be). So when I saw that Monkey Puzzle Tree (a brand I admire for their sense of style and creativity) had produced this wallpaper made of cork, I was blown away. Cork is great for so many reasons - it can be harvested every nine years without harming the tree, is grown without the need for pesticides or fertilisers, has excellent sound and heat insulation properties, and is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal. This wallpaper has an A+ rating for emissions so it creates a healthy environment wherever it is hung. Add to this that the design was produced in collaboration with the talented Drew Millward who lives in my home county of West Yorkshire, and that it's called 'Hit The North', I was bound to fall in love with it. You can buy the wallpaper here.|
I'm in Cardiff Life magazine - again!
17 Sep 2019
Now that the summer is officially over and our thoughts turn to cosying up our homes for winter, I'm here to help. If you're in need of some inspiration, you can read all about the interiors trends for Autumn and how to work them into your home in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. Hear what I and other interiors experts have to say on pages 18-22. You can read the digital version of the magazine here.
I've been nominated for an Amara Interiors blog award!
6 Sep 2019
|Exciting news! My little blog (Design Insider) has been nominated for an Amara Interiors Blog award! I'm so chuffed to be included at all, and not expecting to win, but if you enjoy reading my blog posts then please vote for me. I'm nominated for the Best Interior Designer blog category. Voting is open until the 11th of September and you can vote for me here.|
My kitchen project featured on the Artifact Lighting blog!
1 Aug 2019
When I designed the contemporary copper kitchen, I wanted to use some copper elements to add warmth and also to tone in with the pink walls and pale grey units. I found these pendant lights from a company called Artifact Lighting, and they are perfect because they add to the 'warm glow' I wanted to acheive. They also have a vintage look which contrasts nicely with the sleek look of the kitchen units. When the kitchen was finished I sent some pictures to Artifact Lighting, and they liked the kitchen so much they featured it on the blog page of their website.
You can read the blog page here
House of Hackney's first outdoor fabric
26 Jun 2019
One of my favourite interiors brands, House of Hackney, who are known for their daring and quirky prints, have just released a new fabric which is suitable for our door use. They took one of their designs, Palmeral, and reimagined it in a fresh colour palette of off white and green. This colour fast and water resistant fabric can be used for anything from outdoor cushions to furnishing yachts (if you are lucky enough to have one!)
My thoughts on the colour Living Coral in Cardiff Life Magazine
31 May 2019
|Hear what I and my fellow designers have got to say about Pantone's colour of the year, Living Coral, and how to use it, in this month's Cardiff Life magazine. The article is on pages 84-86, and you can read it here. Do you think you could use it in your home?|
Sustainability in furniture design
7 May 2019
|Sustainability is something that is becoming more and more important in interior design - not just where we buy items from and how far they've travelled to get to us, but also the materials that they are made from. Kartell, one of Italy's best known design brands, have just released the world's first piece of furniture made from a bioplastic called Bio-On. It's a fully sustainable version of one of their best selling items - the Componibili modular unit, and it comes in four delicious pastel shades. They may be 100% sustainable, but they are also super cute and bang on trend with this seasons colours. You can buy them here|
The latest trend in shutters
24 Feb 2019
Forget painted shutters - the new style direction for window shutters is bare wood. These full height shutters made from sustainably sourced ash are the newest product from California Shutters, and are set to be big this year.
My new favourite tile!
7 Feb 2019
I was searching for some tiles for a client's splashback recently and came across these beauties from Topps Tiles. There's long been a trend for patterned tiles, with lots of geometric shapes and bold colours going on, but I've begun to see more and more tiles with a pattern in the surface of the tile itself. These ones are a lovely example, and the deep blue colour is just stunning. To get a closer look at them, follow the link below.
Pantone announce their colour of the year 2019
11 Dec 2018
Leading colour experts Pantone have annouced the shade which they think will be the colour of the year for next year - Coral pink. It might look very bright and scary, but it's actually quite easy to use. I wouldn't suggest painting a whole room in it, as that might be a bit overwhelming, but I would use it in small doses, such as on cushions or in artwork, to liven up a shceme. Pantone say that the colour is meant to 'embrace us with warmth and nourishment and provide comfort and bouyancy in our continually shifting envirnoment', which basically means it's a happy, uplifting colour, and might just cheer us all up!
My work featured on Homify
8 Oct 2018
My work has been featured in an article on Homify - one of the leading online ideas platforms for all things interiors. My project is in an article on how to avoid common mistakes when designing a bedroom. The article mentions how important it is to block out light for a good nights sleep - something I addressed by adding blackout lining to the curtains and adding an extra layer of window dressing with the wooden Venetian blinds. To see the article, please use the link below.