Denby Dowling is an interior designer specialising in new builds, renovations and additions. Denby and her team design, build, renovate, restore and create unique, custom-built homes and space.
Here is her tips for a green house renovation
1. Find the right designer
Easier said than done, right? I chose to work with Denby Dowling because aesthetically, I love her work. But just as importantly, she is as passionate about sustainability as I am.
I throw a lot of constraints at Denby, and her solutions and ideas are always creative and gorgeous. As far as the architecture goes I finally found Paul Adams from Fairweather Homes to work with after liaising with seven architects, who all said “NO, couldn’t be done”. Paul finally said YES it can!!
2. Objectives and standards
Every custom home-build or renovation has goals, and every project will require some of those goals to be compromised. Before you start building your green house, make a list of your standards. What are you willing to compromise on and what are you not?
Your goal may be for all the materials you use to be recycled. But maybe you’re willing to compromise for sustainably sourced and manufactured materials, when recycled materials aren’t available. (This was one of my compromises with the Impossible House.) One of my “no-compromise” tenets is not to use any new concrete.
3. Provide visual direction
This can be a physical bulletin board, a Pinterest board, or a concept folder where you collect images and articles that inspire you and reflect your vision, in terms of both aesthetics and sustainability. A mood board gives your designer a solid starting point.
When I first hired Denby, I started a Pinterest account and shared it with her, not only did that give her a really good idea of what I like, I had fun dreaming about what my home will end up looking like.
4. Be savvy
There’s a lot of hyperbole and a lack of transparency when it comes to sustainable building. Many materials seem sustainable at first, but when you look deeper into the sourcing or manufacturing, the story is darker. For example, you may find out that your renewable bamboo lumber is covered in a synthetic finish or your terrazzo floor is held together by toxic glue.
Some vendors label their products “green” but don’t actually know or share their sourcing and processing. Transparency is key in buying actual sustainable building materials. Don’t take the suppliers at face value. Ask for information and supply-tracing.
5. Source locally
Use your local vendors, furniture makers, artists and artisans. Avoid mass produced “factory” items. And remember, recycling and upcycling is best.
6. Talk to your local council
Most city councils are beginning to adopt sustainable practices and will go out of their way to support your sustainable home project. Along those lines, I’d like to give a shout out to Sydney’s Inner West Council – Australia’s most progressive council, in my humble opinion.