Make your home design choices easy on the environment – and on the eye.
Fabric (used as backdrop) Kamo in Fossil $174/m and Savona in Natural $164/m, both from Hemptech; Soundwave Scrunch acoustic panel $312 and Wishbone chair by Hans J Wegner $2445, both from Corporate Culture; slippers $120 from Nicola Waite; elm table $1390 from Citta; desk lamp $510 from Nelson & Co; jars $7.50 and $15 from Flotsam & Jetsam; wooden box stylist’s own; Kraft card storage box $37.40, Kraft half A4 storage box $24.90, red cloth mini disc storage box $16.20, mechanical pencils $5.90 each, heart paper clips $12.90/50pk and Graf Visual Diary $34.90, all from Kikki.K; Barnacle bottle $69 from Republic; Tejido small storage basket (on floor) $47 from BoConcept; seaweed stylist’s own.
The principles of sustainability and environmental responsibility continue to gain traction. Eco-chic homes are here to stay. As well as aiming to minimise our carbon footprint, we need to reuse, recycle, conserve resources and make choices that result in reduced waste and lowered emissions. It all starts with awareness and luckily there’s an abundance of information available for anyone keen to adopt an earth-friendly way of life. Nearly every company or brand has a story to tell about the environmental credentials of its products. There’s never been a better time to go green.
Backdrop fabric as before; metal letters on wall $120 each, red stool $285 and recycled glass cup $12, all from Nelson & Co; blue storage chest $2950 from Citta; North Star quilted pillowcase $29.90, North Star kids’ quilt $129 and striped Cottage pillowcase $29.90, all from Wallace Cotton; Crellini Orba queen bed cover $575 from Bianca Lorenne; backpack $289 from Nicola Waite; canvas shoes $49 from Republic; bunting (on wall) $19.90 from Wallace Cotton; clamp lamp $178 from Nelson & Co; water bottle, shells and driftwood stylist’s own.
Bowls $39 each from Corso de’ Fiori; cube soaps $9.90 and sponge $27.50, all from Citta; Ralph Lauren vase $511 from Cavit & Co; Vivaraise Zoe hand towels in Lagon (blue) and Crai (chalk) $18.90 each and Vivaraise bath mat in Neige (snow) $59.90, all from Corso de’ Fiori; shells stylist’s own.
Small is the new big. Though family sizes have reduced in recent generations, perversely the size of the average home increased as demand surged for en suite bathrooms, studies and dedicated entertainment rooms. But the consensus is that we’re starting to think smaller again. Smaller homes require fewer resources to create and, of course, they are also cheaper to run.
Houses today are less about impressing the neighbours and more about nurturing and comfort. As rooms become more intimate, we’re expressing our individuality through carefully chosen finishes, fittings and furnishings. We seek approval not through conspicuous consumption but by showing an understanding of how our choices today will affect our shared future tomorrow. A sense of intelligent eco-awareness is what we’re striving to convey.
Paints, from top: ‘Kingfisher’ and ‘Poppy’ by BioPaints; ‘The Viaduct’ by Dulux; ‘Jelly Bean’ by Resene.
The core principles of environment-friendly house design remain unchanged. We try to orient our homes towards the north, make use of the theory of thermal mass for temperature control and specify that windows are double-glazed to retain heat. Quality insulation is a must-have. Porches and verandahs are being built with deep overhangs for protection from the summer sun.
Lockwood has long delivered eco-friendly timber homes to New Zealanders but its EcoSmart range, designed for a minimal impact on the environment, has upped the ante. Designed by eco-architect Dave Strachan, these homes use plantation-sourced wood, translucent slatted roofing and low-toxicity finishes; they observe the principles of thermal mass and may even feature solar towers.
Ebode designs and builds “truly sustainable homes” that incorporate passive ventilation, solar-powered water heating, concrete slab floors, grey water recycling, composting sewage systems and rainwater harvesting.
Backdrop fabric as before; fishing basket (by bed) $269 from Cavit & Co; recycled vase $69.95 and glass balls $14.95 each, all from Freedom; Hello Lover flag $99 from Republic; mattress set (comes with bolster, not pictured) $299.90 and Cottage quilted pillowcases $29.90 each, all from Wallace Cotton; Crellini Orba white euro pillowcase $40 and Crellini Orba queen bed cover $575, both from Bianca Lorenne; silk velvet cushion $85 from Madder & Rouge; Madi washed hopsack linen quilt (medium) $229.90 from Wallace Cotton; prairie-style room divider (right foreground) $845 from Citta; pallet crates and driftwood stylist’s own.
FINISHES & MATERIALS
Being kind to the environment also means creating houses that are kind to humans. If we’re building sustainably, we’re less likely to introduce toxins and other elements with the potential to compromise our health. Unpleasant paint fumes are a thing of the past with paint ranges such as Dulux’s Envir02 low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) sustainable paints and Resene’s Zylone Sheen VOC-free paints with low odour. Both brands offer a service that takes back leftover paints for recycling or reuse. Resene has also established an Eco.Decorator programme that registers painting contractors with sustainable work practices.
Paint on brushes, from left: ‘Kete’ by BioPaints; ‘Venice Blue’ and ‘Monza’ by Resene; small jar $7.50 and large jar $15, both from Flotsam & Jetsam; red stool $285 from Nelson & Co; North Star kids’ quilt (in background) $129 from Wallace Cotton; paintbrushes and shells stylist’s own.
Flooring surfaces that get the environmental seal of approval include bamboo, cork, rubber, solid wood and also linoleum, which is made of renewable raw resources such as flax, wood, cork and jute. For a more luxurious finish, consider woollen carpets or other natural fibres such as sisal and jute.
Laminex and Melteca have been granted the Environmental Choice New Zealand tick for cabinetry, benchtops and shelving. Eco-friendly windows can be dressed with curtains in natural hemp backed with thermal lining to retain heat. Santa Fé offers Thermacell blinds with “honeycomb” construction that traps insulating air.
Look for furnishing fabrics that have been created with minimum impact on the environment, such as those incorporating recycled elements. Old furniture can be given new life by re-covering so don’t overlook vintage stores and second-hand outlets. Choosing furniture well in the first instance means it should serve you for a lifetime. Resist the urge to keep updating and renewing.
Fabrics on rolls, from left: Bella in Antique $133/m, Bella in Seascape $133/m, Siena Stripe in Natural $164/m, Opito in Natural $72/m, all from Hemptech; paddle $79.95 from Freedom; ropes and wood stylist’s own.
Fabric (used as backdrop) Opito in Natural $72/m from Hemptech; recycled jar light fittings, small $82, large $105, both from Nelson & Co; driftwood and rope stylist’s own.
Elm table $1390 from Citta; Crellini Rafelle linen napkin $48 from Bianca Lorenne; elm charger plate $8.95 from Freedom; Japanese paper serveware, from front: round plate $22 for set of 12, compote $25 for set of six, long dish $19 for set of six, coffee cup $20 for set of six, dipping bowl $22 for set of eight, square plate $25 for set of eight, bowl $25 for set of six, all from Madder & Rouge; chopping board $142.70 from Corso de’ Fiori; recycled glass cups $12 each and recycled glass water bottle $17, all from Nelson & Co; wooden cutlery, checked tea towel and seaweed stylist’s own.
ENERGY AND WATER AWARENESS
Conserving energy and water are key concerns in the kitchen and laundry. See energywise.govt.nz
for information on energy-rating labels for appliances. Conservation-focused home appliances are continually being developed but note where they’re manufactured since the carbon impact of transporting them long distances may reduce the net environmental advantages offered.
Asko’s new W6884 washing machine uses as little water, detergent and electricity as possible. Two Fisher & Paykel washing machines, AquaSmart and FabricSmart, are also light on water usage and its DishDrawer dishwasher uses just 6.7 litres per wash. Rinnai has energy-efficient water heaters. Fisher & Paykel’s induction cooktops are made of eco-friendly ceramic glass and offer rapid heat-up times. Check appliance ratings before you buy at eeca.govt.nz
. In the bathroom, look for taps, shower heads and toilets that save on water. Roca has a combined basin and toilet in which waste water from the sink is used to flush the loo.
If you’re not in the market for new appliances or fittings, there are other ways of conserving resources. Switch off lights and appliances when they’re not in use – standby functions waste power. Try to operate your dishwasher and washing machine only when fully loaded. Turn your heaters down a degree or two and wear an extra layer of clothing to compensate. Draw the curtains at night. Choose hot-water bottles over electric blankets. Have showers, not baths.
Backdrop fabric as before; industrial ceiling pendant $499 from Freedom; rattan chest $139 from BoConcept; on top of chest, from top: Grant throw $460 from Cavit & Co; Lincoln throw in Cherry $89.50 from Citta; Test plaid throw $329 from Cavit & Co; glass bottle $380 from Nelson & Co; Peacock chair by Hans J Wegner $14,175 from Corporate Culture; Geneviève Lévy cushion $225 from Madder & Rouge; Vegetarian Pep shoes $264 from Po-Zu.
THE GREEN OUTDOORS
Deal with kitchen waste via composting or a worm farm. A Bokashi food composter fits on even the smallest balcony. If you’re not up for a fully edible garden, start modestly with herbs, lettuces and tomato plants grown in simple pots – ideally made from terracotta. Lawnmowers waste energy and create noise pollution so try to minimise the size of your lawn and devote the space to shrubs and vegetables. Use natural pest-control techniques like companion planting.
Install a clothes line – sunshine and fresh air are far cheaper and more natural than a power-squandering clothes dryer. See ecocyle.org
for how to make non-toxic household cleaning products from lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda.
Bianca Lorenne: 0800 242 567
BioPaints: 0800 472 468
BoConcept: (09) 630 0557
Cavit & Co: (09) 358 3771
Corporate Culture: (09) 379 4466
Corso de’ Fiori: (09) 307 9166
Dulux: 0800 800 424
Flotsam & Jetsam: (09) 361 3831
Freedom: 0800 373 336
Hemptech: (09) 379 7773
Kikki.K: (09) 524 0156
Madder & Rouge: (09) 522 1062
Nelson & Co: (09) 376 0582
Nicola Waite: (09) 523 5639
Republic: (09) 361 1137
Resene: 0800 737 363
Wallace Cotton: 0800 222 122
Story: Shelley Bridgeman
Photographs: Melanie Jenkins
Stylist: Claudia Kozub