When you’re choosing a building material, it’s important to keep in mind the environmental impact it has.
There are certain principles that you can guide yourself by, which help you choose construction methods and materials.
By following those principles, and carefully choosing which materials you use, as well as how you combine them, you can gain a lot in terms of both value and comfort in your home, and reduce the impact it has on the environment by a lot.
Image source: Kaegebein Fine Homebuilding
When going for sustainable materials, the best way to start things off is to reduce how much new material you need. Think about renovating your existing home instead of demolishing it completely and building a new one – this will both be cheaper for you, and less damaging for the environment.
You don’t always need a large house, sometimes a smaller, but more carefully designed one can feel much more comfortable, and be more useful. You can also protect the environment by discarding any finishes that aren’t absolutely necessary, as well as opting for materials that don’t require a lot of maintenance – they usually last longer and you won’t need to replace them anytime soon.
Image source: Antique Building Materials Inc
When working on the design of your home, as well as the construction, choose methods that result in a building that can be easily re-used or re-adapted if needed.
There is a rule of some sorts about single-family houses, which dictates that often, when there’s some specific material on the frontal side of the house, you’re more than likely to find the same on the sides. This isn’t always the case, but if you start looking for it in houses around you, you will see that this happens more often than you’d think.
Image source: Carr Warner, Architects
There are, however, situations where we see a blend of materials. What you see on the front side is not necessarily what’s behind the corner, there might be a completely different thing there. In situations where this is the case, there’s almost always some sort of transition.
For example, you can connect wood to glass, but trying to tie glass to concrete, for example, requires a transition both due to aesthetic reasons, and potential construction problems as well.
When you’re building a home, there isn’t just a single process – but many instead. The materials and resources need to be harvested and mined, then processed. They need to be taken to the building location, they need to be delivered to the final customer.
Image source: Mercury Mosaics
This is all embodied energy, all of these processes consume it. This kind of energy is what you can see when you’re looking at a home, but it doesn’t involve the processes of working with the building material, nor the processes of disposing of it afterwards.
If you’re looking for a way to alter the amount of embodied energy, the first place you need to look at are the materials and how you choose them, as well as which methods and approaches you use when you’re putting everything together.
Different materials carry different energy, and when your goal is to create a building that won’t make a huge impact on the environment, going for a durable building that you can adapt afterwards is necessary.
Image source: Johns Building Supply
Choose elements that create a peaceful aura
We, as humans, have a connection to the outdoors. However, when you’re looking at interior design materials, you shouldn’t forget that there are ways of bringing the outdoors inside your home. This can be done in many ways, and a very important factor to keep in mind is your style.
When done successfully, you will find that the elements of nature that you bring inside, give you a strong connection to your interior, and make you feel relaxed.
Wood is one of the most powerful building materials you can choose. It gives you a myriad of options, from shapes and sizes, to finishes, and they all achieve a different effect, depending on how they’re combined, and how they’re incorporated within the interior of your home. Out of all natural materials, wood is the warmest one to bring inside, and you can achieve a lot with it.
Image source: Root Resources & Company
Pay attention to the room you relax most in
When you’re trying to relax and prepare for a day ahead, you’re undoubtedly sitting in a warm bath inside your bathroom. This will calm both your mind, and your soul as well, and having the outdoors inside your bathroom can only intensify the feeling of peace and serenity.
Try looking at a dry heat sauna – the wood walls are there for a reason, as they amplify the effect of peace that you’re trying to achieve there.
Image source: Clay Construction Inc
Natural is sometimes better – especially with plants and flowers
These days there’s an easy way to brighten up any room without spending a lot, and many people overlook it. Long gone are the days where all the plants inside the homes were artificial, and often covered in dust, and you will find potted plants, usually ones that require little maintenance, in homes all around the world.
This is another way of strengthening your connection with the outdoors, and it can also change up the entire mood in a room if done carefully.
Image source: Lawrence and Gomez Architects
Minimalism is modern
As the ways people live have changed a lot in the past decades, you will find plenty of new materials being used in ways that are creative and achieve very interesting effects. Marble, tiles and travertine stone are finishes that you’ll notice all around modern homes, and area rugs are an excellent visual divider between two different spaces.
Image source: Marvin Design Gallery Berkeley
Technology is slowly making its way inside our homes
Often, what you don’t really see can be much more interesting than what’s obvious. This is one of the guiding principles in modern design. Technology is everywhere, and innovations are leading the fields of smartphones, computers, etc., and they’ve even gotten inside our homes.
Hidden behind the obvious, you will find smart homes with appliances such as thermostats you can control through your phone, smart lighting systems that light up when you walk past them, even kitchen appliances that you can start before you’ve even left the office.
This field of technology is nowadays luxury, but bringing it inside your home can modernize the way you live.
The vast choice of flooring materials
Some time ago, floors only had two options, you either had a carpet or you had floorboards. However, with the changes in the modern design language and the introduction of new materials, you can find materials that last for ages and provide incredible comfort.
Image source: Jetton Construction Inc
One of the best ways to add a tough floor that won’t be slippery is using this chemically-made material. It merges with concrete in a way you won’t notice there are actually two different materials there, and the results are stunning.
Image source: Griffin Enright Architects
Where there used to be linoleum, there’s now vinyl. Extremely practical, you won’t slip on it, and will keep your floors warmer than other choices such as ceramic tiles. When combined with the right interior design, it gives an extremely attractive look.
If you take a look at which design styles are timeless and always popular, vintage is hard to beat. Wood that was once used as pallets, or wine crates, can make for an excellent flooring material, which blends in the vintage interior style effortlessly.
Image source: Rick & Cindy Black Architects
Don’t go overboard with the colors
High contrast only looks good in a handful of situation, and when done extremely well. In all other conditions, it will have a much more negative effect than you’d like to. If you want to play it safe, make sure you choose materials that are similarly colored, or opt for a few colors that are similar and experiment with similar shades of each. This keeps the functionality, and gives the entire flooring an interesting appeal.
Neutral colors are your friend
You don’t have to go for shiny colors from the palette. There are colors such as brown or gray, which come in more shades than you can think of, and they mix with each other to give you an amazing look.
Image source: J.A.S. Design-Build
Try mixing materials for a great interior
If you have plenty of elements that you want to be different, don’t go for colors. Textures are much easier to blend if there are many of them, but you should be careful with them as well.
Choosing textures that are vastly different can lead to them clashing, and if you don’t want to be too dramatic on purpose, this is something you want to avoid. You can shake things up all you like, but think about how everything will fit together.