At The Open Plan we're worried about the environment, very worried and we want to tread more lightly on this planet. So, rather than jack it all in to go live off-grid we've been looking into what we can do to be more environmentally friendly, whilst still creating practical and good looking homes.
Here's our brief guide to some new materials that are finding their way into the mainstream of home interior design.
Sounds pretty artificial hey, but this silky, eco warrior is actually made from wood. The wood comes from sustainable sources, it is fabricated to become a breathable and biodegradable fabric which was pioneered in Grimsby. Flooring made from Tencel has a lovely sheen and a silk/velvet feel without animal cruelty or emitting harmful plastic gasses. Check labels on items such as carpets, rugs, mattresses and bedding for guilt-free comfort.
Taking only 8-10 weeks to become fully grown from shoot, absorbing up to 62 tons of carbon a year and producing 35% more oxygen than trees, this humble material is becoming more prevalent in the UK. It's perfect as cheaper, cruelty free alternative to silk and on the flipped, a gorgeous hard flooring too. As with all of the materials listed here it's biodegradable too meaning that at the end of it's life you can happily place it into landfill knowing that it will return naturally to the earth unlike the trillions of metres of plastic laminate flooring that now exists on the planet.
Want some curtains with a beautifully natural patina and a heavy Hygge look? Then try Hemp. Approved by Jeremy Corbyn's son who's about to open a Hemp only shop in north London, it's also affordable, soft and hard wearing. Unlike cotton, hemp needs little or no insecticides, no herbicides and produces a better quality fibre when grown organically while creating three times as much fibre, making it more environmentally friendly. Derived from fast growing Cannabis plants, this wonder plant seems to be able to do anything.
Other Materials to consider
Recycled Plastic - Soft or hard and spotted recently in rugs, bedding and worktops
Flax/Linen - A traditional and classic soft fabric for bedding, cushions and window dressing
Organic Fair-trade Cotton - Get it curtains, cushions, and duvet sets
Wool - Classically used for upholstery, carpets and curtains, a huggable, hypoallergenic and natural material
Sisal, Rush, Coir and Jute - Hard wearing, with tactile textures and Hygge inducing, naturally calm colours
Stone - If it has to be stone; sourced locally in in Western Europe (most stone comes all the way from China nowadays), you can future-proof a beautiful bathroom, kitchen or hallway. Alternatively go one-step better and opt for reclaimed stone
Glass - Always choose this over petrochemical (AKA plastic) materials such as resin and perspex for tables and home accessories
Metal - For items that will last many lifetimes and can then be melted down to be used again in another form. For an even smaller environmental impact go for vintage.
CHUCK OUT THAT PAPER LAMPSHADE!
We've been looking at lighting - a lot of lighting. Not being the easiest part of the room to get right, as it should never be just the big light on (as Peter Kaye would say). Lighting should be layered, there can be more than one light source in a room and know that dim-able and even subtle coloured light can transform the ambience without it being seedy and it needn't be extortionate.
Use groups of lights together, light through coloured glass, show off your vintage bulb, chic up your desktop. Stick them on the floor in the corner of your living room for a classy uplight, add lamps to tables, fireplaces and walls and play with the combinations of light (including the big light but on a dimmer please). Treat yourself; buy an investment and conversation piece or buy two or three budget pieces which together will give a more considered and expensive look to your scheme.
Movable, delicate, glowing, sit down on-able, childlike and classic, here are our top shops which you might not have heard of before, for relevant and stylish pieces many of which you can plug in today.
And if you now need an extension lead this company will build one for you. Here's one I made earlier
Awesome walls! Yet again we've spotted something we just have to share. Tasteful, large scale murals for your home or business premises that'll make a statement without being cheesy which up until now has been very hard to do.
Start your project off the back of one of these designs, add a dynamic wall to an otherwise tame, neutral space, have fun in the kids rooms or add a unique back panel to your kitchen, cupboards or staircase.
Click here for more info
Thank God for the electrical department at John Lewis. When I need a new iron, dishwasher, juicer, etc, I go onto their website, where their team have done all the hard work for me, curating the best products and then adding a lovely warranty. I buy the best appliance in my budget, job done...
But not when it comes to kettles. Why are they all so ugly? Do they work well? Are they eco? Why do the half-decent looking ones cost £130!?! So, I have spent ages hunting one down and so that you don't have to, here are my tips on how to find your perfect pot.
Here are some of the better kettle designs I poured over*
1. Subscribe to Which - You can sign up for as little as £1 and for that the Which team will test all the kettles you need so that you know how fast your cuppa will be amongst other criteria.
2. Warning, there are over 250 kettles on here so, if you're like me you'll then procrastinate over the site for days as this appliance will be sitting in your brilliantly designed kitchen either cocking it up or blending seemlessly into the design so, colour, shape and material are annoyingly important.
3. Truth is, your choices are black, white or silver. DON'T LET ME CATCH YOU LOOKING AT COLOURED ONES - they're all foul and forget a glass kettle in London unless you have kettle cleaning time on your hands.
4. When you've chosen your kettle, check it's rating.
5. Go onto a shoping comparison site, find the best price - and buy.
6. Or do what I did and go onto Ebay and buy the stupidly priced one you wanted at the start at a fraction of the price because it has a damaged box - another interior design win!
So the wining kettle was the £80 (£39.99 on Ebay) Graef kettle - I'm not even hapy with this as it looks like a blowtorch possibly from the film 2001: A Space Oddysey - oh well.
*all but the Emma kettle can be found on Which
One of London's Best Interiors Bloggers (Ideal Home magazine), The Open Plan Interior Design, London produces contemporary interiors for homes and business' and this very useful home interiors blog