Chloe Bullock is a firm believer that a healthy home is a happy home and can help make yours happier too…
My top tips
A cruelty-free home is very achievable. Aside from the cruelty, leather is so out-moded and doesn’t perform well. I haven’t used it for years. Faux leathers and suedes are far better looking and better performing, better for cleaning and are not full of bleach, solvents and tanning chemicals that you wouldn’t want near your skin.
It’s really easy to avoid cruel and dust harbouring wool too. Every year PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have a Homeware Awards and there’s always a sofa category. Anthropologie’s UK-made ‘Angelina’ sofa uses hard wearing and stain resistant alternative ‘performance wool’ and won this year’s award for Best Sofa.
Think about who will use the sofa and how it will be used – is it for watching TV or for conversation? It affects the shape, squishiness and seat height. If you’re buying new, buy for the long term if you can afford to splash out. This is worth investing in and getting right. Really make sure it’s the right fit in the space by marking out the area with tape (tip: make sure it can be delivered and will fit through the doorways too!)
Can your existing sofa be repaired, recovered or repositioned? Could you consider buying a second hand one? New furniture (and carpets) often contain chemicals that give off gasses. They don’t have an ingredients list, so there is no easy way of finding out if they contain problem chemicals. If you buy second-hand then the additional benefit is better indoor air quality as the off-gassing has already happened.
Who needs dust harbouring and cruel feather and down? Feather and down bedding alternatives are widely available to fit all budgets. I like John Lewis’s duvet made from recycled plastic bottles. Weaver Green can cleverly turn 300 recycled plastic bottles into a blanket, which surprisingly feels like wool.
Paint for life
I’m sad to tell you that you need to ask if the paint and its ingredients are tested on animals (yes… still). The good news is there are suppliers who don’t. Among them are Little Greene, Painthouse, AURO and Earthborn. Anyway – let’s talk happy!
Use colour! Happy, harmonious colours – yellow, orange and pink are the traditional ones to use, but it doesn’t have to be whole walls-full. Think about using colours on different scales. It could be pattern, accessories, flowers or combinations of pops of colour. Think about the view from another room and that colour combination.
It’s not just about walls either. Think about ceilings and floors as well as furniture, equipment, lighting, textiles and accessories. There isn’t any right or wrong in this. This is your home and everyone has different taste. Use Pinterest to experiment and pull a board together of images you like. Your home is your opportunity to express your sense of style. Ignore copying trends – they won’t make you happy. Take time to gather what you love and try not to let others dilute what you want to do! Gather treasured and collected things. Please don’t go and buy a ‘look’.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget watching Stacey Dooley standing in the dry sea bed of the almost no longer existent Aral Sea, which is half the size of England. The rivers feeding it had been diverted to serve the cotton industry. Use of enormous amounts of water and pesticides is avoidable by using Soil Association and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton. Our previous generations invested in good bedding and it was passed to younger generations.
The good stuff doesn’t have to break the bank though. LittleLeaf is a family-run business based in Hampshire. They make beautifully soft organic cotton, luxurious 300 thread count bedding. Organic cotton is renowned for its greater durability and so retains its quality, wash after wash. Consider a cotton bath towel alternative. Durable flax fibre absorbs up to 20% of its own weight in water and is quick drying. Ambetroot’s linen towels are zero waste and made in the oldest linen factory in Lithuania.
Clearing the clutter
Having a home detox by having a clear out and living more minimally will make you feel freer and so much better. Repair something that’s been niggling you. For me that’s such a feel-good moment – bringing something back to life and diverting it from landfill. There are so many charities who’ll appreciate your old furniture and furnishings. Nothing needs to go to landfill. Local dogs homes will take old towels. If things really can’t find homes, take them to be recycled at your recycling centre.
For me a simplified, well-planned home induces happiness. Plan in lots of storage ability to ease stress. Think about making yours and your visitors’ journey through the home easy. Think about ease of unloading shopping, putting away coats and shoes. Design the layout for ease – follow the process of unloading shopping, food preparation, ability to recycle and compost easily; prepare, cook, serve, dishwasher and unload clean crockery. Try not to have much crossing over and be space efficient – make things easy for yourself after a long day.
Kitchens are where better choices can easily be made
Recycled glass countertops – there are many companies doing this using recycled glass collected in your local area – a great story to tell your friends!
Opt for kitchen carcasses/cabinetry made from FSC timber or use suppliers who use low formaldehyde board – who wants formaldehyde off-gassing in their healthy kitchen?
Low energy lighting – go for warm white colour temperature and have dimming controls, especially if you are dining in the space as well. Soothing lighting there to end your busy day and good task lighting in work areas.
Avoid off-gassing floors. Consider linoleum, cork or sustainable bamboo.
Safe food preparation – some plastics and non-stick cookware can release toxic chemicals when heated too high. When heated or exposed to acidic ingredients, utensils and cookware made from uncoated metals (aluminium and copper) can leach into food. Avoid porous surfaces that can harbour pathogens. (Advice from WELL Building Standard.)
Biophilia – our connection to nature – it’s so good for us! Optimise views to nature where you can. Bring the outdoors in. Have an indoor herb garden or air purifying plants. Even seeing nature’s forms and timber finishes is known to be good for our health and wellness, so consider that in your choices for finishes… which brings me to adding joy.
Joyspotting is a movement by US interior designer and writer Ingrid Fetell Lee. Her work focuses on the way that design affects our health and happiness. Her instagram account is worth following (@aestheticsofjoy). Colour is a large part of it and we’ve already covered that, but there are other ways too. Recently I’ve added an LED neon sign to a project for that injection of joy and fun. Joy can be found in the tactility and warmth of surfaces. Try and mix up textures – of the building’s shell or the furnishings within it.
Decorative items or repurposed and cleverly upcycled elements can be the source of joyspotting when you work out what they are made from – like the stools we had made from old skateboard decks – instant joy when you realise what they were.
Last, but not least, let’s not forget the wellness benefit of smell. Corrine’s Taylor’s cruelty-free and certified organic ‘Love Mist’ is made with a sweet, floral blend of therapeutic organic rose geranium, rosewood, patchouli and vanilla essential oils to help bring comfort, joy and emotional balance – freshening the air and lifting the mood.
Chloe Bullock is a BIID Registered Interior Designer® at the British Institute of Interior Design – the pre-eminent professional organisation for interior designers in the UK. She is the first interior designer in the UK to be vegandesign.org™ certified – the global accredited course and community set up by Deborah DiMare.
In 2018 Chloe won the Women in Property’ Business Women Excellence Awards, Sussex. Materialise Interiors supports UK businesses and residents in ethical builds and redesigns with a focus on the following: cruelty-free, sustainable and locally sourced, vegan products and the WELL building standard (for spaces designed with health, wellbeing and performance in mind).