good for the planet and the soul!
Sustainable home interior design reflects a commitment to protecting the future of the planet – something we all know is a high priority. Interior designers are increasingly incorporating sustainable design options; but what exactly are these practices, and how can we integrate them? We spoke to ARJAN NIJEN TWILHAAR, chief designer and owner of design company Aiden-T, to find out his perspective on sustainable home interior design and how to create an environment that both works for the planet. and for you.
How has sustainability in home interior design developed in recent years?
Emphasis has been placed on renewable resources and the use of products that reduce the carbon footprint. However, I believe that it is material longevity and aesthetics that should be at the heart of every scheme and material selection.
For example, let’s look at one of the biggest surfaces that impact design – flooring. A popular choice now is vinyl flooring, an inexpensive alternative to hardwood floors. Most brands produce this material quite durably, but vinyl flooring is still a product that ages badly and is often replaced at short notice. Hardwood flooring might just be a better option.
Another area to consider is how the products are made – for example, if they produce harmful gases like formamide. Although I try to support local and smaller businesses, it seems the suppliers haven’t figured this out yet. I therefore usually use Benjamin Moore paints, which do not produce harmful gases.
What sustainable materials really impact home interior design?
The quality of the legacy must be at the heart of every decision. This means choosing a good quality material that has lasting power against changing styles and trends. When we selected bathroom tiles for our own bathroom 12 years ago, we chose neutral tiles with a natural finish. I added wood on the vanities and a stone on the counter. After more than a decade, I’m still happy with this choice.
The same goes for furniture choices. One of my first furniture purchases was a suite of French Provençal furniture from the 1800s. These pieces traveled with me from the Netherlands to the United States, to Hong Kong and finally here to Singapore. Over 30 years later, I still love the pieces. This is real durability – these are items that can easily be passed down from generation to generation and they also have sentimental value.
Does sustainable design mean a bigger bill in the end?
Although the initial outlay may be higher, in the long run you can save significantly. We receive a lot of requests for cheap renovations, which we always refuse. The use of inferior materials, cheap chipboard furniture and mass-produced items seems like a short-term solution for interior renovation and decoration. For some pieces of furniture, you pay a premium because they are made of solid wood or natural fabric, but these pieces of furniture can last for years.
What advice can you give on reducing waste?
We all hoard products, often purchased at low prices and of poor quality. If you invest in items that you can use longer, it helps reduce waste. I recently changed my dining table; we used it for a good five years, but decided to go in a different direction. Because we bought a good quality timeless piece, we were able to sell it in two hours, for about half the price we paid. He has gone to a loving new home where he can be used for many years.
For my very first house, I decorated with many second-hand objects; some items I recycled, some items were still perfectly fine. We need to return to this habit of looking for objects that have more life in them. Unfortunately, upcycling furniture and buying second-hand, vintage or even antique pieces is not yet a mainstream trend in Singapore.
Why is a good interior design so important for a person’s well-being?
When I was young I realized how interiors made me feel or how they changed my experience. I noticed how they changed my emotions and the people around me. Interiors impact all of our senses.
This has become more evident through the pandemic as our time at home has increased. Well-appointed homes envelop you in belonging, while familiarity helps you soothe and relax. One element is space, and although we don’t have large spaces to live in, we can plan our homes to hide clutter and use objects that bring pleasure and happiness.
It can come from the simplest things. Every morning I drink my coffee from a Wedgwood cup. I bought it in my first earning days. The story and quality not only bring joy, but they elevate this simple morning routine to an experience to be enjoyed.
Homes provide shelter and a place to live, but they are so much more than that, especially when you live a hectic life, or travel or uproot yourself frequently. Creating a familiar home helps reduce stress and creates affinity and attachment.
What interior design principles can impact mental health and well-being?
How a home is laid out and how each space functions is important. One of the most important things we seem to have lost is a home. For me, this is the perfect decompression zone. We may not all be blessed with this space, but we can make simple adjustments to create it. From adding a simple tubed opening to delimit the space to erecting walls to create a hearth.
Meal time is also an important aspect. Having a dedicated dining space – away from a TV or other distractions – is a must for my own home. Again, I see this tradition slowly fading, where houses don’t even have space for a dining table.
Another space that should reflect calm and tranquility is the bedroom – it should be a personal space that envelops you and helps you relax and unwind. Often we see clients running out of budget when it comes to designing the master bedroom, but here window treatments, bedding, and artwork play an important role.
I love designing homes where the elements keep revealing themselves, and there’s something to discover every time you look. These may not be apparent at first glance (eg a marbled baseboard), but the depth of layering detail is what makes homes interesting and shows their personality.
When I design for clients, I like to find out which pieces have meaning and history for them. Items collected over the years are a great way to continue giving this home the personality, comfort, and familiarity you expect from a well-designed home.
If you are looking to make your home more sustainable, or simply looking for expert interior design advice, contact Arjan through his website or call 6408 9691.
67 Ubi Road 1, #09-11 Oxley Bizhub (lobby 1)
(Showroom by appointment only)
aiden-t.com | 6408 9691
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