Just because you'd like to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, doesn't mean you need to pack up and move to an Earthship in the desert somewhere. Living in the city can be just as environmentally friendly if you tweak your house in the right ways. An important consideration is how to make your home more livable and eco-friendly without chewing up too much energy and resources in the process. The key, as Collingwood Compact demonstrates is to choose high-quality materials that will last for a long time. Brave New Eco collaborated with Green Solar Designs to create a compact eco-friendly home in the heart of inner-city Collingwood...
"These guys really walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk, willing to do everything they could to reduce their energy use and create a low impact lifestyle", says designer Megan Norgate from Brave New Eco. With clients "highly committed to the idea of living well and resourcefully in a small space with a family", the design uses quality materials from sustainable sources to create a low-energy, low-impact home.
Brave New Eco started with the notion that good joinery and layout is the key to small spaces (and who could argue with that?), they designed joinery for the study and living room as well.
A one-metre-wide extension, taking the home to the boundary wall, allowed the designers to keep the kitchen simple, providing the necessary space for a walk-in pantry. "The kitchen contains an induction cooktop, new highly efficient appliances, and beautiful matt black Paperock benchtops made from recycled bamboo and paper", explains Megan. In the pantry, open shelving keeps the joinery simple, but everything has been carefully designed to fit the owners' belongings - there's even space for the Thermomix and toaster!
A small ensuite was added to the large master bedroom. And while the bathrooms are small, they are highly functional. "Interest is provided with matt tiles in soft green and charcoal, combined with matt white penny rounds", Megan explains, while "handmade timber vanities were installed and custom mirror surrounds made with the leftover timbers."
Built-in robes were added to all the bedrooms to keep the family's mess under control. In the kids' rooms, the robes include a 'play-and-study' nook which keeps the rooms feeling open and spacious and reduces the need for additional furniture. Curtains are used to help insulate the windows in winter (and look great to boot).
The interiors feel fresh and natural, with black, green, white and timber, and a similar palette throughout. "We replaced the lighting throughout with LED lights, removed all the downlights and replaced the rear ceilings to reseal the house", says Megan, helping to create a more low-energy home.
And this is just the start of the eco-friendly retrofit. "We have also completed a landscape design which is currently being implemented, featuring decking and built-in productive garden beds, composting systems, and adjustable exterior shading", explains Megan. "Water tanks, fully retrofitted insulation, a PV array, and solar hot water complete the project, making the project an exemplary model of a compact sustainable retrofit urban home."
By keeping things compact, yet well-designed, and incorporating high-quality products that will withstand the knocks of family life, Brave New Eco in collaboration with Green Solar Designs have created a warm and welcoming family home. Ultimately, the home will help its owners achieve their goal of living a low-impact life without leaving the city.