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Designing a Renewable and Sustainable Space

Palmer Town House

We're all making little daily choices to help conserve resources and protect our environment so we can make a positive impact on our planet. Sustainability is a term often used in conjunction with design and we're becoming more educated and aware of the importance of repurposing items and limiting wasteful practices.

Reducing our negative environmental impact adds a certain challenge to designing our homes but bringing sustainable features into your space is much more attainable than you'd expect! These are some of the principles of sustainability that can help to create a greener planet for all of us.

Energy Efficiency

One of the largest contributors to climate change is energy consumption, so improving efficiencies in this area is the first thing to address in your home. There are many simple and accessible ways to make changes to include renewable energy in your space! Start by first reducing the amount of energy required for functions such as lighting, appliances, heating, cooling, and much more.

Trailside Town by Activa & White Dahlia Design

Recently, we have had the great opportunity to work with Activa, a developer and home builder located in the Waterloo region in Ontario, and we have learned so much about their sustainable strategies for interior design and architecture! Here are some of our favourite options for energy efficiency:

  • LED Lighting: Switching to LED light bulbs is simple and has a positive impact on your energy consumption. LED lights can save you up to 40% in costs and they also come in a variety of lighting options to suit your tonal preferences.

  • Window Coverings: There are endless options for stylish and functional window coverings that will help boost energy savings. Applying curtains, blinds, shutters, or even transparent UV-blocking window film can help keep out the summer heat as well as winter drafts. Window coverings give you control of your environment while adding comfort, as well as helping protect your furniture from harmful UV damage!

  • Fans: A ceiling fan can create better airflow for those hot summer days, but did you know there are fans available with reverse rotational blades which create an upward flow? This helps to better move and disperse warm air evenly throughout your space. Fans use a small fraction of energy compared to an air conditioner unit but installing a fan doesn’t mean you need to ditch your AC - they can work together depending on the weather to make your home more comfortable and efficient.

  • Trees: Did you know that strategically planting trees and shrubs around your property can help improve your energy efficiency? Trees will provide shade and prevent the sun's rays from hitting certain areas of your home. They also create a fantastic barrier in the blustery months, protecting your house from the harsh winds and cold. Trees can also enhance your property's curb appeal tenfold!

Cellular Window Shades - Wayfair Wayfair Ceiling Fan - Wayfair

Lowering Your Environmental Impact

Lowering the environmental impact is our next consideration when choosing a sustainable design path. Taking the time to become more aware of the direct effects that the materials and finishes you’re buying have on the environment can make you a conscious and savvy buyer. Try selecting items from manufacturers who actively reduce the amount of energy, pollution, and waste involved in their production process.

FSC Furniture - West Elm Wicker Pendant Lamp - Ikea

Numerous companies are now stepping up and innovating to lower their environmental impact. Companies such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and EQ3 are all committing to environmental impact goals, sustainability commitments, and positive practices. The more we all promote sustainability, the more it urges companies to evolve and hold themselves environmentally responsible.

Waste Reduction

The architectural and design worlds contribute to excess waste production when building new, renovating, or decorating. However, there are growing trends such as repurposing, upcycling, and recycling when it comes to home design. These practices give new life to older objects or materials that otherwise would be thrown away. We urge you to give this a try in your own home! It takes some creativity and research, but you'll discover fantastic ideas to repurpose your items, making them into something you can use and love again, and diverting objects from landfills. You’ll be proud of the work you put in, the environment will thank you, and so will your wallet!

Heir and Space A Hundred Affections Recycle

Instead of throwing objects in the trash, try selling your extra pieces online or donating to a thrift store.

Longevity and Flexibility

Flexibility can be the key to longevity and can help keep your items fresh in this world of ever-changing trends. Keep your old items feeling new by repurposing them in another space! Flexibility can bring new life to your home and the objects in it, helping to prevent quality materials and items from being discarded.

Architectural Digest

If you're starting from scratch and purchasing materials, finishes, and furniture for the first time, look for quality products from companies with environmental initiatives. Consider how you will use an item in the years to come in different rooms or homes. Ask you if it is a timeless piece to you, made with quality and care. We love the use of flexible items that can be used and moved around the home for functionality and style such as:

Ladder shelves are timeless, modern, and customizable shelving for showcasing your personality, and can even be used for room separation.

A storage ottoman can easily be moved around your space to create a table or lounge moment when needed.

Bar carts are also so versatile in moving them to the spaces you need for living room storage, entertaining in the dining room, or displaying work in the office. Here are some of our favourites.

Ladder Shelves from EQ3 Storage Ottoman from West Elm Bar Cart from Pottery Barn

Sustainable Materials That We Love

We want to leave you with a few of our favourite companies that provide fantastic sustainable materials and finishes. These are all products that you and the environment will love!

  • When freshening up your home, try using low or zero VOC paints to reduce the number of harmful chemicals entering the atmosphere. Check out Benjamin Moore's Aura Waterborne Interior Paint, available in all your favourite colours and finishes.

  • Cork is a popular and renewable material being offered by more and more companies, especially for flooring. It's easy to clean, comfortable to walk on, and sustainable. Check out these amazing options by DuroDesign.

  • For natural stone, manufactured tile, engineered wood, and much much more, we love Stonetile. Their products are not only modern and timeless but adhere to rigorous environmentally positive practices, which you can read more about here.

DuroDesign Stonetile Stonetile

These simple lifestyle changes, whether big or small, make a difference and affect positive change for the environment. All efforts count when making sustainable choices, and small adjustments in a design will help to create a positive future for the planet. If you're ready to make your home more sustainable, our team is ready to guide you in your design!

Have fun and be creative when planning your sustainable space!

White Dahlia Design Team



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