Kelly Collins begins her ‘eco journey by simple methods’

Kelly Collins recently moved into a four-bed detached house that needs some eco cred adding (Picture: Supplied)

As an interior designer and head of creative for UK’s leading furniture in a box brand, Swyft, Kelly Collins can’t wait to kit out her new home in style.

But before she gets busy with the interior design there are some essential eco jobs to do – they might not be sexy, but the insulating of the roof and cutting drafts around doors and windows come first. Oh and the grandma-spec electric blanket is a go-to gadget too.

How important is sustainability and energy saving to you as an interior designer – and how much emphasis should it have in interior design?

It’s hugely important and at the forefront of most designers’ minds these days. With global warming becoming more visible it’s something we just can’t ignore. We can do our bit by selecting materials that are more eco-friendly such as recycled steel, reclaimed or recycled wood and precast concrete to simply installing LED lights that use less energy and have a smaller carbon footprint.

Where the furniture comes from and the materials used is a question designers are asked more frequently now. When I first qualified as an interior designer over ten years ago it would have been strange for a client to ask this question.

What kind of home do you live in?

One of the first jobs on Kelly’s list was roof insulation (Picture: Getty)

I have recently moved into a four-bed detached property in Cheddington in Buckinghamshire, built in the 1970s. It has electric radiators and no gas. A lot of modernisation is needed but we are going to start with the things that will save us money in the long run. Obviously I’m desperate to tackle the more fun aesthetic aspects of the refurbishment but I’m needing to be sensible initially. We have begun our eco journey by simple methods to minimise heat wastage.

How are you doing that?

We have recently insulated our roof to decrease the amount of heat lost. This is a great, low-cost thing many people would be able to do themselves. Next on our list is to fill up the gaps around the external doors and windows.

What else do you do around the home to save energy or make it more efficient?

We have changed our shower head to a more ecological one that uses less water. We bulk buy bamboo toilet paper and use refillable handwash and washing up liquid and recycle as much as possible. There are always small and easy things you can do 
to do your bit.

What more things would you like to do to make your home eco?

Kelly changed her shower head to one that uses less water (Picture: Getty)
Solat panels are a top priority for Kelly and her husband who is a renewable energy engineer (Picture: Getty)

We have a number of plans for the future but obviously a lot are costly so will have to be done in stages. First are solar panels. My husband is a renewable energy engineer working with solar panels so this is high on the list. Along with installing these we would install battery storage so we can store the energy generated during the day and use it when needed.

What eco fad or trend is the most overrated?

Constantly buying new reusable items such as water bottles and bags to 
use as environmentally friendly alternatives can actually be worse for the environment. The eco benefits of reusable items only actually become apparent if they are reused enough times to outweigh the carbon footprint of the disposable alternative. Consumers can tend to forget that buying all things ‘eco’ doesn’t actually decrease your carbon footprint in the first instance.

As an interior designer how do you expect our homes to change in the future?

The houses will be clean and minimal. There will be hidden air purifiers in each room that will turn carbon dioxide into fresh air. All flooring will be recycled wood taken from past homes or sourced from solely sustainable materials that nature replenishes naturally. The windows would just go dark to block out the light when needed.

Do you have any eco gadgets in your home?

Kelly says you need to use your reusable goods rather than buying new ones or it can be worse for the envirnonment (Picture: Getty)
Kelly’s favourite eco item is her cheap-to-run electric blanket (Picture: Getty)

It’s not interiors-related but my most-loved eco item in my home is the electric blanket. I think it was Martin Lewis that said, heat the body not the space. Having this means I don’t have to turn up my heating. Within five minutes I can be getting in a cosy bed, costing around 24p to run a 100W electric blanket for one hour a day for seven days.

What new trends in furniture can we expect in the future?

A trend we saw a lot in 2022 was recycled furniture ‘upcycling’. This will carry on and fits into the 70s style trend predicted for this year. We will also see more natural materials used in producing furniture like cork, bamboo, natural stones and fabrics such as wool, linen and recycled velvets. Swyft will be launching a number of new fabrics at the beginning of this year and a selection of them are 100 per cent recycled.

Where would be your dream eco home?

My husband and I have always had a dream of building a Huf Haus. This is a prefabricated house design that is built in a factory and erected within weeks. These houses are energy efficient and are close to zero carbon. Electricity is generated through solar panels and heated using ground or air source pumps. You can go as luxurious or basic as you wish. It’s a self-build but without the usual stress. The location would be rural for dog walks and next to water. We can all dream.

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