27 09, 2019

Sustainability in interior design


Last night I attended Kelling Designs' inaugural sustainability evening at their flamboyant shop in Langton Street, London. It was a cosy, lively affair with their founder Emma Deterding probing three panel guests on their thoughts on how to embed sustainability in the building and interior design world. The three guests were: Edward Bulmer: natural paint [...]

Sustainability in interior design2019-09-30T13:13:16+01:00
20 03, 2019

How to plan a sustainable kitchen renovation


Change occurs by the actions we take and the choices we make and nowhere is this more apparent than in what we do with our homes. It's taken a while, but we've finally woken up to the fact that sustainability is the future of building and product design. Incorporating it into the most frequently remodeled [...]

How to plan a sustainable kitchen renovation2019-09-26T15:33:07+01:00
14 12, 2018

The role of wood in eco-design


Now that the builders have gone and the dust has settled (in some places I've even managed to sweep it up) I've got time to write about the interesting design and construction features of our extension. This post is about wood and how we used it both structurally and aesthetically to improve the sustainability of [...]

The role of wood in eco-design2019-03-12T17:01:26+00:00
6 11, 2018

Rain chains – when and how to install them


Of all the things I thought people would be interested in about our eco-extension, it wasn't the rain chains that came to mind. But, they are the feature that everyone asks about! In July last year I wrote a post extolling the virtues and beauty of rain chains but that was before we'd put them [...]

Rain chains – when and how to install them2019-03-12T17:22:32+00:00
3 11, 2018

Design as if the World Matters – 8 eco-design ideas for your home


Capturing individual style in rooms is key to creating happy spaces that we love being in. But I think that making sure rooms reflect our values is equally important.  Most people today care about the environment and their impact on it. When we're renovating houses, we have to consider the environmental impact of the choices [...]

Design as if the World Matters – 8 eco-design ideas for your home2019-03-12T18:21:00+00:00
4 06, 2018

On the hunt for a woodwork paint that lasts


I'm not joking when I tell you that the hardest part of this renovation project has been deciding what paint to use on our woodwork. We've got a lot of wood, both in the old part of the house and in the new extension: Bathroom cabinets, which I know I shouldn't paint because they're oak, [...]

On the hunt for a woodwork paint that lasts2019-02-13T14:03:31+00:00
26 03, 2018

How to make your building project more eco


In this blog post I'm going to give you a few tips on what you can do to make your building project more eco-friendly. With the way the UK government has approached the green building agenda in the last 5 years, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there's no life left in it. There may [...]

How to make your building project more eco2019-02-13T14:00:11+00:00
27 02, 2018

Goodbye to the cavity wall – Guten Tag! to the fired clay block


I'm not sure whether it makes me feel good or bad knowing that our new extension is being built in the same way as a Lidl supermarket. What does make me feel good though is knowing that one of the most cost-conscious retailers has endorsed this new, environmentally sound method of construction. When I say [...]

Goodbye to the cavity wall – Guten Tag! to the fired clay block2019-02-13T14:00:42+00:00
10 01, 2018

The joys of freecycle – reducing waste from building works


Most people's attitude to construction waste from their building project is "I didn't want it so why should anyone else". But, hand-on-heart, the most fulfilling part of our building works so far has been finding a home for materials that would otherwise go to landfill. Through the desire to bin as little as possible I've [...]

The joys of freecycle – reducing waste from building works2019-01-21T11:49:58+00:00
19 12, 2017

How to make your tiling project eco-friendly


I've had a week to source tiles for three bathrooms, a downstairs loo and a laundry room. There are hundreds of beautiful tiles out there but very few of them can be classed as eco-friendly. I got excited when I stumbled on Eco Friendly Tiles who supply tiles containing recycled content with carbon neutral assurances, [...]

How to make your tiling project eco-friendly2019-01-21T11:51:03+00:00
18 09, 2017

Green Tomato Chutney


My poor tomato plants have caught blight. It's the same as the dreaded potato blight and tomatoes grown outside are particularly susceptible to it. Anyway, all is not lost because I've salvaged lots of green tomatoes and am going to make green tomato chutney. There are many versions out there but this one is my [...]

Green Tomato Chutney2019-01-21T11:51:56+00:00
3 08, 2017

Spiced Pears


This is a very old recipe of my grandmothers and it's great for when you've got pears that refuse to ripen. Spiced Pears 1kg of pears 500g sugar 300ml wine vinegar 2 tsps whole cloves 2 tsps mixed spice powder 1.5cm of root ginger 1 tsp of cinnamon powder Peel and core pears and cut [...]

Spiced Pears2019-02-13T14:05:47+00:00
19 07, 2017

Be inspired by guttering – the beauty of rain chains


Last summer when we were staying in the Alps I noticed that our idyllic chalet-hotel had an intriguing alternative to traditional downpipes. Instead of solid black pipes to transport the rainwater from gutter to drain it had simple, chunky chains. Not only did they add interest but they were completely mesmerising when it rained because [...]

Be inspired by guttering – the beauty of rain chains2019-02-13T14:01:07+00:00
27 06, 2017

Are eco paints worth the price?


One of the first blog posts I wrote was on eco paints (see Eco paints demystified). Now that I'm at the stage of specifying paints for our renovation project and am facing painful budget constraints, the price difference between environmentally-friendly paints and high street brands is really hitting home! So I thought I'd look again [...]

Are eco paints worth the price?2019-01-21T11:54:44+00:00
21 06, 2017

Detoxifying your family BBQ (tips on buying charcoal)


While you're proficiently turning the rosemary and chorizo sausages on your BBQ or in my case frantically spraying water to dampen the flames and salvage what's left, have you ever thought about what's in the charcoal that you're cooking with.  Or given a thought to how it's made or where it comes from? Charcoal is made [...]

Detoxifying your family BBQ (tips on buying charcoal)2019-02-13T14:05:37+00:00
9 06, 2017

Retrofitting double glazing into old windows


Sorry for being quiet on the blog for a couple of weeks - things have been going a bit crazy with the house renovation and I've been preparing for a conference that I'm speaking at on Tuesday (Sustainability of Traditional Buildings). The topic of my talk is about retrofitting slim double glazing into old windows [...]

Retrofitting double glazing into old windows2019-02-13T13:56:34+00:00
4 05, 2017

5 top eco tips for kitchen renovation


In most family homes the kitchen is the go-to hub, a bustling, high traffic area which needs to function efficiently and reflect the style and character of its occupants. Kitchens are often the first space that people look to renovate and here I give you my top 5 eco tips on how to make your kitchen [...]

5 top eco tips for kitchen renovation2019-01-21T11:57:49+00:00
14 03, 2017

Eco floor options – is wood the answer?


They say that when you decorate a room you decide on the floor and work your way up. They also say make a decision and stick to it. Unfortunately I've heeded neither bits of advice - I've changed my mind countless times over the kitchen floor and now it's crunch time. The easiest thing would [...]

Eco floor options – is wood the answer?2019-02-13T14:04:30+00:00
20 02, 2017

Tackling the roof


After that first winter of wearing dressing gowns in bed and cuddling hot water bottles it was clear that we needed to do something to make the house warmer. The fact that frost never stayed on our roof identified it as the problem. For many houses, fitting loft insulation is a straightforward job with a quick [...]

Tackling the roof2019-02-13T14:00:54+00:00
1 02, 2017

Improving the U-value of windows


Our house is listed and the Georgian sash windows are so integral to the look of the house that I'd never want to alter them. The solution for these windows has been to draught-proof and close the shutters early in the evening! But, we also had some Edwardian casement windows which were in serious disrepair and [...]

Improving the U-value of windows2019-02-13T13:56:47+00:00
25 01, 2017

Dreaming of summer


It's this time of year that I fantasize about long summer evenings in the garden with a glass of rosé watching the kids do unrelaxing things like pelt each other with waterbombs. Now is a great time to browse online for discounted outdoor furniture so that when the sun eventually arrives you can enjoy every last drop [...]

Dreaming of summer2019-02-13T14:05:24+00:00
12 01, 2017

Why is it so hard to be green?


This week I got dumped. Our ground source heat contractor emailed to say that, despite a start date 2 weeks away, they were pulling out.  My initial reaction was to direct all my anger towards them, accusing them of incompetency, laziness, misselling etc. But then I realised that the real culprit here is a government [...]

Why is it so hard to be green?2019-02-13T14:02:52+00:00
5 12, 2016

Heat from the ground


I've done a scary thing this week - I've signed up to replace our gas boilers with a ground source heat pump (GSHP for short). I'm in good company though because Cambridge Terrace, the largest residence in London after Buckingham Palace is doing the same, although on a rather larger scale. Switching from gas to renewable [...]

Heat from the ground2019-03-07T15:40:41+00:00
28 11, 2016

Industrial Upcycling


This is a quick post to show you how beautiful, chic things can be made from other people's junk.  My wonderful carpenter Willie collects scaffold planks from construction firms who, for health and safety reasons, throw them out after a certain time.  They are wonderfully solid and weathered to perfection. Willie uses them, in the same [...]

Industrial Upcycling2019-01-21T12:07:14+00:00
22 11, 2016

Eco Paints Demystified


I've been building up to writing this post for a long time, mainly because there is so much baffling information out there on eco paints, with many manufacturers using terms that are designed to mislead. In 2010 an EU directive came into force which heavily restricted the solvent (or VOC) content in paints. This heralded [...]

Eco Paints Demystified2019-01-21T12:09:20+00:00
9 11, 2016

Trump turmoil….let’s talk wallpaper


On this bleak day in November when the next president of the United States is someone who has brandished climate change as a "bullshit hoax" and pledged to "cancel all climate change spending," I'm questioning my efforts to cut carbon emissions and renovate green.  But, discarding my eco principles would mess with my head even [...]

Trump turmoil….let’s talk wallpaper2019-01-21T12:10:32+00:00
24 10, 2016

Breath is life – why buildings need to breathe


Talk to anyone about old buildings and they tell you how important it is to let them breathe. Having only recently understood what this means, I find myself using the word breathability in the same way as I use the word sustainability - with the assumption that everyone knows what I'm talking about. So, for [...]

Breath is life – why buildings need to breathe2019-02-13T14:01:20+00:00
12 10, 2016

Investigating Solar PV


Our architects who have worked tirelessly to design a modern, ecological kitchen extension to our energy-guzzling, draughty abode are, understandably keen on renewables. And so am I, providing they suit our energy and heating requirements.  This post covers solar pv - the research I've done and the questions I've asked to determine whether it's a good option [...]

Investigating Solar PV2019-02-13T14:03:15+00:00
19 09, 2016

Draught proofing windows


At the front of our house we have 5 beautiful Georgian sash windows. They were probably installed when the house was first built in the 1780s and I'm awed by the fact that wood from trees grown 250 years ago is still perfectly functional today. I wouldn't change them for the world but what I would [...]

Draught proofing windows2019-02-13T14:02:00+00:00
15 09, 2016

How to make old windows more energy efficient


Windows are the eyes of a building - they influence how it presents itself to both the onlooker and the occupier.  Old windows are definitely to be valued for their craftsmanship and, in the case of historic glass, for the beauty of the light that they transmit. But, as we all know, they do present [...]

How to make old windows more energy efficient2019-02-13T13:57:32+00:00
13 09, 2016

Turning my back on MDF


I'm very happy because I've met Willie - a carpenter who doesn't look at me as if I'm crazy when I tell him I want to use certified British wood to build cupboards for my son's room. In fact, he even tells me he can build them using reclaimed wood from scaffold planks.  But the greatest [...]

Turning my back on MDF2019-01-21T12:17:14+00:00
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