For most of us, our homes are a sanctuary. It’s where we go to relax and decompress.
But there are a long list of common interior design mistakes we don’t realise are actually doing more harm than good for our overall wellbeing.
As a society we’re collectively becoming aware of the importance of sustainability, and that sentiment is making its way to the forefront of many minds when it comes to designing and decorating.
Cue Conscious Cribs, the brainchild of Australian interior designers Liz Linforth and Mima Romanic, who saw a gap in the market when it came to design firms who built a business model around the idea of ethical and wholesome living.
Founded in 2018 and operating out of both London and Australia, their ethos is not just about good quality, sustainable furniture.
The team embraces research to create spaces scientifically designed to make you feel good, where colour, lighting and material choices all play a significant role (see their tips at the bottom of this story to make the most of these elements).
“For a long time people have focused on their wellbeing primarily through diet and exercise, but haven’t really considered how their surroundings impact their state-of-mind,” Liz tells news.com.au.
“The home environment is the most important space because it’s where we start and end our days.
“Our core purpose is to educate and design spaces that are strikingly unique and beautiful, yet can also enhance one’s wellness.
“We have seen that there is a real appetite for conscious design, from sustainable furniture
to non-toxic finishes.
“Our clients understand that these principles are just as important as having a beautiful space. “Hotel developers in particular are excited by what we are offering as the definition of luxury is changing.
“Extravagance is out, we are designing luxury that is paired back, slower and more mindful.”
Liz says examples of how we can enhance our spaces are through clever use of colour and light.
“The colour green, for example, can have powerful impacts on mental perception,” she explains.
“It promotes a love of nature, the space and the people within it.
“From a colour psychology perspective, it is the great balancer of emotions, creating equilibrium between the head and the heart.
“This not only fosters a balance within those using the space but strengthens the relationship that humans have to their environment.
“Light on the other hand, can alter our hormones which can seriously affect our physical wellbeing as well as our mental health.
“Too much of the wrong exposure to light (especially blue light) suppresses the secretion of melatonin. Melatonin is an essential hormone that ensures we can have quality deep sleep, allowing our bodies to restore.”
While Liz says her studio doesn’t believe in “trends” – as wellbeing should be about adapting our lifestyle long term – she did say people were increasingly looking for furniture with meaning, as well as natural touches.
“There is an increased interest in the application of natural elements – like wood, plants and light – throughout the home and a demand for the story behind furniture pieces,” she says.
“Clients are wised up, they feel good supporting local artisans or companies that ensure their manufacturing has a positive impact on the environment and people.”
Here are some nifty ways in which you can naturally enhance each space in your home.
Colour is the easiest way to visually improve your kitchen and make it seem spacious. We would always recommend painting the walls, skirting and trims all the same colour. No breaks in the paint colour will visually open the space, giving the illusion of higher ceilings and a grander space. We also recommend choosing cabinetry and countertop finishes that are within a similar colour family to your walls. This avoids any sharp contrasts that create visual boundaries.
We love timber flooring as a finish throughout the home. It is more sustainable and less toxic than carpet. The process of manufacturing and installing carpet can often mean it releases VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in your home even long after the smell has gone. With timber flooring, a common concern is deforestation, to be sure your timber hasn’t been illegally harvested, look for either FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or AFS (Australian Forest Standard) which adheres to sustainable principles as well.
Turn your lights off when you are winding down for bed and light some beeswax candles. Reducing your exposure to light, whether it is technology or the ceiling lights will help reduce your cortisol levels which is the hormone that keeps alert and energised. Also, unlike almost all other candles, beeswax candles are not toxic and being surrounded by a flame will help to increase your melatonin production which is essential for deep sleep.
Place some eucalyptus branches in a vase in your bathroom. The steam generated from your shower will release essential oils from the leaves, creating a spa like vibe in your home. Eucalyptus is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, decongestant and calming.
Use recycled materials in your landscape such as broken concrete or salvaged metal, which can work as great permeable mulch in your garden beds. Look for drought-tolerant trees to plant and use a design layout that maximises sun exposure in the winter and shade in the summer, this could also influence your tree choice. There are also great companies that make sustainable outdoor furniture like Eco Outdoor or Tait who manufacturers in Australia.
For more tips, you can check out their blog at consciouscribs.com and Instagram page here