Made + Good // Conscious Homewares

Carrying on slightly from my post last week about nesting for the season of Autumn, I touched on sustainable home wares and mentioned a few of my favourite places to go when you want to replace or update a part of your home without resorting mass produced goods from the high street.    Well this week I would like to introduce you to Made + Good an on line store that is not only ethical, conscious of the environment but all their independent makers are based in the UK, everything is hand crafted, small batch products made with love and hard work.  Another unique point about Made + Good is that they donate 15% of all sales commission to charity.   Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that when you donate to charity it makes you happier and healthier. When you place an order you get to choose which charity you want to give to at the checkout.  So every time an order is placed through Made + Good a charity benefits directly and both the maker and you the consumer can give back with no extra cost to themselves, amazing right!

I asked owner Alex Hayes about how Made + Good came about and what the future holds for her inspirational store.

Generally, setting up Made+Good has made me excited to be part of a move towards more responsible consumerism where customers appreciate original products made by the amazingly skilled craftspeople in the UK – people who design and make with such levels of care and quality that would never be possible in mass production! I am proud to be supporting a more sustainable way of shopping that encourages considered purchases of products that are built to be used and cherished for years to come. Items in the home that show the marks of being hand crafted or are worn with years of use hold so much value within them and can bring such pleasure to everyday rituals.

In terms of future plans… I would obviously like to see M+G grow to take on more Makers and even to incorporate more areas of making such as foods and sustainable clothing. I am really keen to work some collaborations with Makers and I also definitely plan to run some pop-up shops in the future. So lots of ideas still to work on… being less than a year old I feel like Made+Good is still very much in it’s infancy

What I love about Made + Good is the level of detail, you can shop from a carefully selected range of beautiful home, lifestyle and gift products, shipped direct from the studios of the makers straight to your home.   Knowing that you are supporting small independent creative people in the UK is a great thing, one that would never be achievable in mass production.  Everything in the store is hand picked, chosen for its ethics, style and functionality.  These pieces are to be cherished and become part of your home for a long time to bring joy when ever used, hopefully on a daily basis.

Taking the environment into account is a big part of the Made + Good ethos.  Sourcing products that are made from sustainable materials and designed to last, searching for makers who are conscious of their impact on the environment.  Its perfectly normal to find Made + Good makers running their studios on green energy, spoons and bowls carved from reclaimed wood, jewellery made from recycled metals, vegetable based inks and recycled packaging being used to wrap your orders.

The store is very easy to navigate and within each section you can find exactly what you are looking for with one click.  I know this as I have treated myself to one of the Wheat Bags in the Beauty + Wellbeing section under the Lifestyle heading.  It has helped me ease achy limbs at the end of the day and is perfect for when the dreaded time of the month shows its face.  Simply pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and wrap it around the body where needed. A safe and natural way to ease aches.  When not in use the printed design looks wonderful on display on top of a pile of blankets.  The most fascinating thing about these wheat bags is the story behind them knowing exactly where and how each product is made is truly fascinating and makes you appreciate it even more.  They are produced by Blästa Henriët a Scandinavian brand with strong focus on durable design. Their wellbeing products are made from European, hypoallergenic linen that is kind to your skin. With a skill and passion for craftsmanship, each piece is made by hand in their London studio. The linen is Oeko-Tex Certified, the wheat is grown on a farm in Lancashire and the packaging is FSC-certified, made in the UK from renewable resources.

Every item from Made + Good has a story and an authentic provenance which resonates with me greatly.  From the denim aprons crafted with meticulous detail to the hand printed natural linen tea towels and napkins to the one of a kind porcelain stripe pots handmade in East London using a wheel and kiln powered by green energy and with the greatest care for our planet.  Who can resist such wonderful items that will not only bring joy but will be cherished for a lifetime.

I can honestly say I can’t think of a better way of improving our self awareness and well being by investing in a little bit of Made + Good can you?

Jx

  • with thanks to Made + Good for loaning the products for the purpose of this post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make Waste Beautiful with Brabantia

We all need them so why does your household waste bin need to be ugly and something you want to hide?

I’m not lucky enough to have an integral bin hidden away in a fitted cupboard and I didn’t want a nasty cheap looking bin to sit lurking in the corner of my ktichen so I chose something that was aesthetically pleasing and large enough that it only needs emptying once a week.  As a family we try very hard when it comes to waste management, everything is sorted and recycled to the best of our ability, plastic waste has been reduced hugely but sometimes you still need the dustbin for things that just can’t be recycled.

Brabantia waste bins are leaders in modern, contemporary, sustainable waste bins that come in all shapes and sizes but most they all are design led and technologically savvy.   I have my eye firmly on the Bo Touch bin which not only combines beautiful design credentials with easy waste separation with clever removable inner buckets to keep everything in its place.  It is designed to fit perfectly against a wall and with its stylish legs you can clean around it with no hassle.  The plus side is that the design is modern and contemporary coming in a range of colours that make it hard to resist.

Their newIcon pedal bin is greener than ever, these sustainable bins are made of 40% recycled materials and after use 98% of the bin and packaging is recycable how amazing is that.  Not only is this fabulous pedal bin nice to look at it’s green credentials are punching above their weight.  On top of all that for every newIcon pedal bin purchased you will be supporting The Ocean Cleanup helping towards its mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

After choosing the handsomest waste bin to compliment your style and taste you have to empty and clean it, this is one of those jobs you and your spouse bicker about right, who’s turn is it this week!    Instead of using harsh chemical laden concoctions why not use natural ingredients to keep everything clean and smelling rather pleasant.  Bicarbonate of soda removes unpleasant odours.  A spray infused with distilled vinegar and lemon will keep your bin sparkly and clean with no impact on the environment what so ever.

So next time you think a bin is just a bin think again, lets make waste beautiful.

Jx

Images 2, 4 & 6, all others taken my myself or Brabantia

 

The Perfect Night Sleep with Leesa

I think you all know by now that I love my bed. I like being asleep, I like sitting with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning waking up slowly, and on a weekend spend hours sat there watching the clouds out of the window or reading books.  So yes I really really do love my bed.

I’m quite lucky when it comes to sleep simply because I can get to sleep very quickly and stay asleep most of the night for at least 7-8 hours; annoying right?   I do think that routine is a big factor. I stop work at 6pm, eat a healthy home cooked meal most evenings, relax and unwind in a warm bath, ignore all technology in the evenings and often read a while before sleep, usually I’ll be in bed before 10pm and never have mobiles or laptops in the room.  Simple things really that are conducive to switching off and relaxing before bed.   I’m also a stickler for preparing for the next day, clothes ready and everything tidy so there is no running around like a crazy thing in the morning!

All this aside you can do all of the above and still not get a good night sleep if your mattress is wrong, get that bit right too and slumber is guaranteed.  Our old mattress was getting up to its recommended change date of 8 years (it was still in good condition so we donated it to the British Heart Foundation rather than put it in landfill).   I have heard many good things about the Leesa mattress not only on the comfort front but their environmental credentials too, so was rather excited to give it a whirl to see if it makes any difference to my sleeping.

Firstly can I tell you when the box arrived I was quite astounded that something that will go on your bed can possibly fit into it.  It’s a lot easier carrying a box up stairs than negotiating every corner and trying not to cause any damage to the house or yourself in the process.  Positioning the compressed roll is quick and easy then it’s the fun bit, slicing open the packaging and watching the Leesa mattress appear before your eyes, truly amazing.  I made a little video for you to see how darn easy it really is.

Now for the techy bit which is also rather fascinating. The Leesa mattress was designed to help you get a better night’s sleep, what makes it different from others on the market is the top layer of Avena foam.  It is a responsive material that allows airflow through the mattress for a cooler night’s sleep and provides just the right amount of bounce for freedom of movement.  There are two more layers in the unique combination of foam that make up these mattresses. Joining the Avena are memory foam and support foam which adapts to your body providing optimum support and comfort.  All the mattresses are also made in the UK and not shipped in from abroad.

The next important factor and another reason I wanted to get involved with Leesa is their ethical programme.  If you are not happy with your purchase the mattress can be returned within a 100 day period and will be donated to a local charity.  Their One-Ten programme also donates one mattress from every 10 sold and the One Earth programme sees a tree planted for every mattress sold to help off set their carbon footprint.   All of this is exceptionally close to my heart and highly commended.

So after all that information the big question, did I sleep well?   The answer is a rather resounding yes.  I can’t tell you how comfortable it is, you feel like you are lying on a cloud that supports every curve, not an ache anywhere when I woke in the morning.  The down side is that you really don’t want to get up when the alarm goes off its simply too good!

Jx

  • with thanks to Leesa for providing the mattress for the purpose of this post

 

Lighting the Way with Kovac Family

My passion for simple design is growing constantly along with sourcing brands that hold sustainability within their hands to create wonderful products that move forward with technology but keeping their integrity and ethos focused on the environment around them.

I can’t deny that I have been an admirer of Kovac Family for a very long time, such simple elegance in everything that they do.  The Sweden based multidisciplinary company is run by Camilla and Christopher Kovac, designing and running their business as environmentally friendly as they possibly can.  All their products are made in Sweden using sustainable materials and sold exclusively in their showroom and online store.

Their ambition is to create products that have the smallest impact possible on the environment by sourcing the materials needed and producing them locally.  The challenge was to be able to create something using a minimum amount of certified environmentally friendly materials as possible and also have the capacity to be easily recycled.

Their collection is simply called Numbers, each product named after the number of parts used to construct each form, yes as simple as that!   The inspiration behind it all comes from nature itself, the question asked is, how can we make this better in all aspects to improve the every day life and our environment, a question we should find ourselves asking every single day.

The versatility of these stunning lights is wonderful, the shape mimicking that of a shell can be placed anywhere, as well as hung creating a focal point where ever it is positioned.  They come with either 3 or 5 metres of cord giving you plenty of options to drape and hang to perfection.  I had great fun placing this stunning Ebonized Oak 25Lamp around my home, I think it’s final resting place with be hanging low over my kitchen table creating a delicate pool of light and added wow factor.

14Lamp is the new design, smaller than the 25Lamp but perfectly formed and still as striking, they would look fabulous hung low as bedside lights, hmmm now there’s an idea!

Each light be it oak, ash, waxed, striped, dip dyed, freckled or whitened comes delivered flat packed in a box smaller than one you would get a pizza in!   You ingeniously fold out the pieces to create the iconic shape, total genius.  Such simplicity in it’s beauty, bringing sustainability to our homes with clever design is something we should all strive for.

Jx

  • with many thanks to Kovac Family for the Ebonised Oak 25Lamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Considered Home

For a long time now as a family we have made a conscious decision to improve the way we live, taking into account every aspect of our daily life.  It takes no time at all to assess the every day things we do and make small changes to be more sustainable in our homes.

Arhaus featured a tip of mine in one of their infographics, quite proudly I could have given quite a few but this is the one I chose.

Arhaus are leading the way in sustainability striving to make the home wares industry more environmentally friendly for all as you can see above.  They make many of their products with organic fabrics and materials, including their earth-friendly sectionals.

So how can we make a difference, I say start small and build from there, the impact of just changing your your light bulbs to energy efficient ones has a massive effect, they don’t need to be utilitarian looking either the technology out there today is amazing, all my light bulbs are low energy led squirrel cage designed so look fabulous and use hardly any electricity.  As a family we made a choice to use a green energy company to supply our gas and electricity, they source all of their electricity from renewable sources and off-set the carbon emissions from the gas they provide.  We also have a smart meter which helps us keep track of the energy we are using.   Another great tip is to time yourself in the shower, it’s amazing how much water you can be saved by using what you need rather than squandering it.

When it comes to cleaning and washing think about the products you are using,  I use eco-friendly ones even down to my washing powder, no harmful chemicals involved at all.  I don’t have a tumble drier either, clothes dried outside in the fresh air is the best way, just takes a little more time but uses no energy other than what nature provides.  On those inclement days clothes airers in doors do just fine.

As a consumer try and think about the ethical benefits of all the items you buy for yourself and your home, even down to the clothes you wear, the bedding you sleep in, the towels you dry yourself on, the paint you use for your walls, the furniture you choose to have in your home.  Each and every one  of these small things add up to a larger picture, it’s not rocket science but a little time and effort can help change things for the better.  There are many wonderful companies out there today that are trying very hard to make a difference to how we live putting a great emphasis  on ethical values.  It’s the little changes we make that will most certainly have the biggest impact in the future.

I could go on and on, going into greater depth on each subject but for now, change your light bulbs, sleep in linen sheets, don’t use too much water in the shower and stop using that tumble drier!

Jx

  • Images 5, 7 & 9

 

 

The Natural Way to Paint // Bauwerk Colour

When it comes to decorating I like to try out new ways of doing so, exploring new ideas and colours, mixing it up a little rather than playing safe.  I have been a huge admirer of Bauwerk Colour for a long time, first seeing them in Hans Blomquist’s book In the Mood for Colour so it has been a privilege to be able use their paint in a room in my house.  Being able to introduce new environmentally friendly products into my home is becoming increasingly important to me and if I can then pass on this knowledge to others then I’ll be overjoyed.

It was a little daunting using this paint as it is totally different to what I’m used to. When you open the tub the consistency is like water but if you follow the instructions carefully it’s not so scary after all, it’s rather easy and very therapeutic.  I found my rhythm and the walls were covered in no time.  It was strange painting walls with a large brush but sweeping strokes are needed to get the effect you want.  Because the paint is made with clay, minerals and natural pigments it dries quite quickly so you can’t got back and go over where you have been which took a while to get used to. You just keep going with your strokes, not worrying whether you’ve missed a bit, this will get covered on your next application.  As long as you don’t load your brush too much and make each application stretch as far as you can the process is rather simple. Also keep stirring the paint to stop the pigment settling, you just can tell when you need to do this.

Once I got used to the whole process three coats were applied quickly and the finished effect is rather fabulous.  Yes you can see the brush strokes but that is part of it’s charm, it gives your walls depth and texture and I absolutely love it.  A friend on instagram said once I use Bauwerk I will never look back and I think she is right!   It has totally transformed the room, watching it change colour with the light is quite magical. I find myself drawn to this space to sit for a while and take it in, it was a room I hardly noticed before.

The joy of Bauwerk is their vision and ethos being able to produce modern lime paint in harmony with nature, they source the finest pigments to develop the most beautiful colour palette in collaborations with superb stylists such as Hans Blomquist and Lynda Gardener.   Established in 2000 in Australia they now supply in Europe which is great for us.

The environmental benefits from using Bauwerk paints are exemplary, here is why.

“We make our paints, following our belief that buildings and homes should not be disconnected from the materials they are built from. To create paints that are natural, that work with and are part of a building or home.

Especially important to us, is our environment, our paints are beautiful, do not harm the environment in their manufacture and disposal, and most importantly do not harm our health.

Bauwerk lime paints are made from natural materials which is different from being a conventional low or zero VOC paint-which just means it is made from plastics but with one toxic part removed leaving all the rest.

Our paints work differently, working with nature we make them with clay, minerals and beautiful natural pigments. You can paint without fumes, wash-up and disposal is safe and non-polluting, we leave no toxic chemicals in the environment in the production of our paints.

We use 100% green power in our production.”

If we can make our homes more natural without causing harm to our environment but in turn creating beautiful places to live in then I highly recommend investing in wonderful companies like Bauwerk.

Jx

Custom Fronts // Scandi Ply Chic

A few weeks ago I mentioned having commissioned custom made fronts to fit an Ikea Besta sideboard we had recently purchased.  Well my beautiful doors, tops and sides arrived, they fit like a dream and are beyond any pre conceived ideas that we had before they arrived.I am so pleased that I found Custom Fronts, not only that they are UK based but I support their sustainable, hand crafted, design led ethos.  The attention to detail is exceptional, I have a bespoke piece of furniture for the fraction of the cost of a designer brand but with huge eco credentials.During the process of choosing the finishes and final dimensions for my cupboard doors, I had a chat to Ian and Rachel, the husband and wife team behind the brand and asked a few questions about how Custom Fronts came about, the sustainability behind the craft and where they see the business going in the future, this is what they told me.“We wanted to re-invent how kitchens and furniture should be.  We don’t want to do what everyone else is doing.  We want to offer something extraordinarily simple, yet extraordinarily difficult to find.  Kitchens and furniture that are beautiful, sustainable, made locally, design-led, AND affordable.  No-one else seemed to be doing it.  Why couldn’t we? We come from humble backgrounds, and don’t have deep pockets. But we love art, design, creativity, the planet…and there are many more like us.  We know it’s not just those who can afford it that want beautiful and healthy design in their homes!

 We had a number of questions that we felt the interiors world just didn’t have answers to. So we decided to answer these ourselves.
Why can’t high-end design be inclusive, not exclusive?
Why shouldn’t beautiful, sustainable AND affordable design be available to everyone?
How do even high-end manufacturers get away with making their products from toxic MDF and other unsustainable materials?
Why must everything be wastefully spray painted with toxic paints, or wrapped in laminate and vinyls?
Scandinavian birch plywood is THE ideal materials for kitchens – why are so few using it?
Why should those without deep pockets have to settle for bland, shoddy products without beauty and creativity?
Why is everyone playing it safe?
 We felt perfectly placed to provide these answers.  We have the skills, we had the vision.    But we felt scared, unsure…did other people have these questions too?  Did other people want what we wanted? We still don’t know for sure.  But we did know that we didn’t want to play it safe.  We wanted to take a risk.  Sometimes you have to trust your gut, so we went for it!
 We love nature and beauty.  We use gorgeous FSC certified birch plywood or bamboo for all of our products.  Birch plywood is fast-growing and abundant meaning it is easily replenishable.  It is low-toxic, and because it consists of several very thin layers of birch ply together, immensely less wasteful than solid wood.  Beautiful bamboo is incredibly fast-growing, has a fascinating grain structure and is another perfect material.  All our wood veneers are native species from FSC certified suppliers.
We use ultra low toxic and durable paint, an American brand “Mythic”.   You could drink it, although I wouldn’t advise it!  It’s not a fashionable brand, they don’t shout about themselves but we know this is the best on the market.
We make everything ourselves in our workshop in Sussex, we want to be proud of what we make with a simple, timeless aesthetic but also push the boundaries a little, we like using interesting colour palettes, woods and metal finishes.  It might surprise customers, but we won’t say “yes” to everything.  We have strong environmental and design principles and everything we do stays true to that.  We won’t spray paint – it’s wasteful, usually toxic, and lacks the subtle texture and crafted look of hand painted.  We will never use MDF and particle board.  We won’t use tropical hard woods.
 We have so many plans.  Our only problem is time, not ideas!  Our plans are to introduce our own bespoke furniture, Custom shelves, Custom tables, Custom stools, with very interesting “customisable” options of course.
 We will also be moving to a beautiful rural workshop only 50 miles from London over the summer where we will have a showroom, we’d love you to come and say hello.  It is just across the road from one of the most beautiful riverside walks in Sussex, which handily ends up at a scenic pub where you can enjoy a lovely pub lunch, a perfect day out.
And finally there is the possibility of a collaboration with a fascinating design firm so watch this space.”
 Take it from me the finish is exceptional and I’m bursting with pride that I now own a Custom Fronts cabinet, I don’t think it will be long before I hear of many more of you owning a slice of of Scandi Ply delight too, or how long it will take before I want to update my kitchen!!
* with thanks to Custom Fronts for providing images for this post.  Taken by Sarah Weal and styled by Emma Harris