While we continue hunkering down and use the time for interior sprucing up, it’s also an opportunity to consider what we really need and want in our homes, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
DOES the thought of bursting out of the front door on Monday to the hardware shop and garden centre feel like the anticipation of jetting off on a sunshine holiday?
Never have DIY and gardening been embraced by so many with so little access to retail for gathering up a few trays of nasturtiums.
But this slow reopening of on-street shops is giving us an opportunity to think about how we buy for our homes in a way that has lasting value and low impact on a planet already showing signs of recovery from our previous excesses.
While none of us is likely to install a green wall in the hallway this weekend, some of us have time now to research and ponder what is right for our home, lifestyle and pocket to reduce those impulse purchases that could lack longevity.
Retailers, especially independents, have masses of knowledge about where their products came from and how they’re made so ask, especially if the thought of research is daunting.
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Cork-based interior designer and colour consultant Ger Cooney says, “Take your time. Now is like a reset button to think. We’ve done the decluttering and tidying, then there’s painting.
“Think about opting for a paint that has plenty of pigment and which won’t have to be changed in a couple of years if you pick a versatile colour which will last. Buy better quality that’s durable.
When it comes to furniture, Ger has already seen a shift back to the arts and crafts movement with the popularity of upcycling and buying the timeless look of Scandinavian-inspired mid-century modern furniture.
“The Scandinavians, especially Denmark, buy well and pass furniture on, and are really pleased to get it,” he says. “Buy something second-hand.
“It’s far better quality than flat-packed. Go for style over trends, something you’ll love and will keep. There are bargains to be had from vintage shops and second-hand furniture stores, and online resources like Etsy and Done Deal are great for things like rugs.”
Quick and easy sustainable purchases can also include the accessory of the moment, according to Ger. “If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, great, or have indoor plants which purify the air and never go out of fashion.”
Buying plants is also suggested by Limerick-based interior designer Nina Blodau.
“Talk to the retailer for advice on what to buy. Some garden centres are now selling things like little sedums in frames to hang, and need little maintenance. If you get fed up of it you can you can pass it on to someone else.”
She recommends getting out the paintbrushes too, and opting for paint brands which don’t give off VOC gasses. They’re the ones which create that new paint smell and are believed to be harmful to humans and the environment.
“Ask your retailer about VOC-free brands, and vegetable-based ones,” she says.
“Retailers should have done their research. Think about having these throughout your home. Sometimes a client will have it in the baby’s room but less so as they go through the house.”
Take a more long-term view, Nina advises, “In Ireland we think about ripping out and starting again without thinking about where things we buy came from. ‘I’ll just get that for now’, is something I hear all the time and it ends up in landfill because you don’t love it so much.
“Something like a sofa can be bought from a local maker and will be really well made. Choose a classical style which won’t date. You can get it recovered later if you want.
When it comes to accessorising, longevity, again, is key for Nina.
“Now is a really good time to choose from local artists and even art students. You might not think you know about art, but buy what you like rather than a laser-jet print that has been mass-produced.”
And as we’re now able to extend our daily walk, Nina says, “Use the time to gather accessories like a selection of stones, or twigs to put in a jar. Not everything has to be bought.”
Little Greene Paint low VOC
https://www.ralstoncolour.com/en/ (available at Pat McDonnell)
https://brightly.ie/ Cork-based bespoke lighting.
http://kathleenmccormickbaskets.com lamp shades
Etsy, adverts.ie or donedeal.ie