Sustainable Design Guide:
Jasmin Robertson, Brick Dust Baby on Sustainable Interior Design and Decor
Inspired and enchanted by her beautiful home-renovation page, we reached out to Hove local and interior design expert, Jasmin Roberston @Brickdustbaby for her perspective and advice when it comes to renovating and decorating your home, sustainably.
Only have 5 minutes? Skip to the break down to view a summary of Jasmin’s top tips.
Jasmin Robertson, Brick Dust Baby, on Sustainable Interior Design and Decor
Sustainability is something I’ve been passionate about for many years - I actually met my fiancé Liam at a green networking event in Brighton ten years ago when I specialised in sustainability PR and he was launching a green business - not a very sexy ‘how we first met’ story but a happy one nevertheless!
We’re currently renovating our new home. It’s a period property so draughty by nature and not particularly energy efficient, but we’re doing what we can to incorporate as many energy saving measures and sustainable finishes as possible. This includes kitchen work surfaces made from recycled materials, bamboo cupboard fronts, eco-friendly paint and we’re even looking at fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles.
Where possible, we’ll be sanding back the floors to reveal the beautiful original floorboards and where we need flooring we’ll be sourcing sustainable, UK-made engineered wood, and tiles with high percentages of recycled content.
In terms of furniture, I love a mix of old and new, I really feel it gives a home extra character and I love items with a story to tell. We’ve already sourced two vintage sideboards which we plan to use as bathroom vanity units, one of which I’m going to keep as a wood finish and the other I plan to paint.
A couple of years ago we sourced a set of vintage re-upholstered Ligne Roset Togo sofas. As design classics they do well to retain their value but we still managed to pick them up for a fraction of the price they cost new. As they’re so well made they really stand the test of time, plus they’re beautiful and so comfy. They will be perfect for the movie room in our new loft.
Many of the other furniture items we own are handed down, our mid-century dining table for example. I inherited it from my dad - it extends from seating four to up to ten people and is such a solid piece. The colour of the wood stain is quite orange and won’t work in our new dining area, so instead of buying a new table I’m going to sand this one down and re-stain it. Not only is this going to save money, it means I get to include a piece of my Dad in our new house and we extend the life of what is a really lovely piece.
Here are my top tips for making sustainable design choices when decorating your home:
Don’t be a sucker for trends
It can be really tempting, especially when you see beautiful homes on Instagram, to want to experiment with the latest trends. But remember these trends are designed to encourage you to buy things you don’t necessarily need, and to do so regularly. The affordable items that make it easy to copy these looks in your own home are often cheaply made and have a short life span. These are the pieces that make up the 80% of furniture that ends up in landfill. Instead, I think it’s more valuable to spend time discovering your own personal interior style, and look for good quality items that reflect it, are well made and built to last. Yes they will be more expensive to buy new, but think of them as an investment. Remember you can always sand a wooden piece of furniture and re-stain or paint it. And a good quality sofa can be reupholstered for a fraction of the price of buying one new.
Antique, second hand, pre-loved, vintage - whatever you call it, these pieces have already stood the test of time, so you can be sure they are well made and will serve you well. It’s also a great way to save money as costs for furnishing a room can really add up. Before you start looking, be sure you know the dimensions of the piece you’re looking for in relation to the space you want it to go in your home but keep an open mind. If you find a piece that works on the depth and width but isn’t quite tall enough - could you add feet or legs? If you have a finish date in mind for a project and want to source a vintage piece - start looking as soon as you can as the real gems often take a bit longer to find, but are worth the search in my opinion.
Appreciate the beauty of nature
Wherever possible, opt for natural materials - wood over MDF, linen and cotton over nylon and polyester. It’s not always possible or affordable, but natural should definitely be the preferred choice. Aside from looking nicer, natural materials are often easy to reuse and recycle, so when they’ve reached the end of their useful life they can be made into something new. Often man made materials are so processed this isn’t always possible.
Consider biophilic design
As we’ve all been spending more time at home, many of us have also found solace in, and a deeper appreciation for, nature. This is essentially the concept behind biophilic design - creating more of a connection to nature within the built environment to improve wellbeing, including reducing stress and supporting mental health. This could be using natural materials, incorporating lots of plants or installing larger windows or roof lights so you can see more of the sky or your garden. It’s not restricted to physical elements of design either - sound and smell also play a part - even burning essential oil candles can give us an indirect experience of nature in our homes.
Don’t feel like it’s all or nothing
No one is perfect and we all have a way to go when it comes to doing our bit for the environment and making sustainable choices. Of course there will be things you want to buy new for your home and if the things you really want just happen to be mass produced - that’s ok if you cherish them and know you can make them last. But if we make a conscious effort to buy sustainably where we can, including opting for vintage or pre-loved, that will make a difference.
By day I work as an interior designer at JSJ Design and clients hardly ever request sustainable design. I feel that needs to change. We put forward sustainable options wherever we can, but it would be really refreshing to have clients ask for them in the first place. Quite a few of our suppliers are taking the initiative to improve CSR and there are so many new sustainable interior ranges launching - from fabrics to wall coverings to flooring - that we no longer need to compromise on style or quality. We have more eco-friendly choices than ever before and I can honestly say designing my own home this time round, it's actually been really easy to incorporate sustainability into the design - even on a tight budget!
Follow Jasmin’s renovation journey on Instagram @brickdustbaby