The rise of sustainable design

Having launched her own kitchen design company back in 1989, and with a background in interior design and building, Linda Christensen has more than a few words of wisdom to offer up when it comes to evolving kitchen trends. In this blog she explains why sustainable design is on the rise—big time. 

Perhaps more than any other parts of the home, the kitchen and the bathroom are where ‘sustainable living’ is top of mind. 

As the dishwasher hums and the bathroom underfloor heating seeps into our soles, many of us wonder just how much energy we’re consuming & how we could live life more sustainably. Yet for many out there contemplating a new kitchen or bathroom makeover, sustainability is still associated with the loss of long hot showers or a kitchen devoid of stylish imported appliances. 

For designers, the need to integrate a sustainable ethos into kitchen and bathroom design is on the up. The marketplace dictates that we build upon our abilities to minimise a design’s impact on the environment and equip the people who use these spaces to live sustainably. 

So what’s happening out there to support kitchen and bathroom designers in response to this rising consumer need? The answer is, plenty is happening… 

  • New products are being introduced all the time to integrate seamlessly with sustainability in the home. For appliance makers in particular, it is the way of the future. 
  • In building, construction, carpentry and cabinet making we’re seeing a shift in carcase board and interiors to ply and solid timber. Meanwhile paint companies are  researching eco and user friendly finishes with low emission paints and non toxic products.
  • With people eating and gathering in the kitchen for family and social times, open plan or joined living is a popular feature of kitchen design – meaning less heating is required for dining, living and other spaces. Double glazing to windows and exterior doors further increases our ability to live with less heating sources. 
  • By having an increased focus on local producers, emissions and costs of transportation for all elements of a kitchen or bathroom fit out are lowered.
  • Maximum use of natural light and reflective surfaces helps to keep power wattage down. LED is a power saving light source that’s on the up.
  • Recycling and waste storage / conversion stations within kitchens are now essential.  
  • Use of fresh ingredients and daily and market shopping means there is often less need for freezer storage and the power drain it requires.
  • Quiet kitchens are more liveable spaces. Appliances are now manufactured and specified for their quietness and efficiency - from dishwashers to rangehood/extractor fans to washing machines and more. Likewise, soundproofing kitchens and bathrooms with wall insulation, soft floors (like timber and cork) and furnishings is an increasing requirement that manufacturers are being asked to consider.

For those designers out there ignoring the sustainability ‘trend’, wake up and smell the coffee. The shift is happening and before long the portion of the market prepared to put up with anything less than sustainable design will be in the minority.

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