Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Greenspec reviews Urban Eco Chic

Brian Murphy of Greenspec, a UK Website dedicated to green building materials, wrote to Oliver Heath praising Urban Eco Chic:

"Your approach, the book structure and format is so right: small nuggets of information, delivered by graphically coded topic bullet points, its so accessible. I am recommending it to interior design and furniture design students.

The scope of coverage is very broad from building/finishing materials through to household goods and appliances which ensures your readers get something to think about every time they consider any household purchase.

Your constant reminders to consider reclaim and reuse and find locally is very refreshing and you demonstrate through your work and illustrations shows how it works. I am inspired by some of your pictures thinking about a much needed garden office and thinking about dismantling pallets for book shelving.

When you are in the public eye it means whatever you do will be scruitinised, all the more reason for getting it right, and I think you have, excellent job. Long may it stay on my desk."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Live Green Live Smart to use Urban Eco Chic as a textbook!

The Minesota-based organization Live Green Live Smart Institute has decided to use Oliver Heath's Urban Eco Chic as a textbook for their green certificate program! They have also invited Oliver to blog on their Website, so check back for updates on when the blog will be published!

Greenthinkers.org recommends Urban Eco Chic

"Urban Eco Chic is packed full of ideas on how to make your home more eco-friendly, sustainable and stylish. For homeowners, interior designers, green builders, and anyone with an interest in eco-friendly and sustainable design, Oliver’s tips are affordable and accessible. It features over 100 photos that hope to show readers that creating eco interiors are more about using your imagination than your wallet." - greenthinkers.org. Click here to see the entire review.

Environmental consultant reviews Urban Eco Chic

"There is no way you can even pick this book up and still think that green design can only be "earthy" in its look. This book lays out the fundamentals of eco-conscious design for every style. This book explores the very realistic ways in which you can incorporate sustainable choices into the creation of an elegant, welcoming home. I love that the design concepts are simple, even though the research behind the ideas and the ultimate look they create are so sophisicated." -Nicole Galdieri, a Philadelphia-based environmental consultant who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in environmental studies

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to create an eco-friendly nursery or child's bedroom

Good news – my wife Katie just had a little baby girl! Added to that over the last month we have moved house – believe me theses are two major life changes that shouldn’t happen anywhere near each other!

However it has got me thinking ever more about designing eco children’s bedrooms.

As there wont be too much energy use, your main concerns will be the creation of a happy and healthy space for your precious child to live, sleep (and occasionally scream!) in. Remember that childrens immune systems are in development and so more susceptible to the effect of toxins. (photo credit: www.inke.nl)

The main things to think about are:
-Reducing toxins found in furniture, paints, and toys
-Reducing dust levels – cutting down on unhealthy dust mite.
-Good natural ventilation- cutting out the build up of damp and potential mould
-Safe Low energy lighting

Natural wood floors will help to cut down on surfaces that trap dust (such as carpets. But if you do want some soft surfaces, try rugs or whip stitched sections of natural carpets made of wool with natural backings.

Paint walls in natural paints that don’t contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) which can off gas toxins onto the floor or surfaces below. VOCs are found at their highest levels in conventional eggshell or gloss paints

Furniture such as beds, wardrobes and chairs

Choose solid wood furniture that wont contain formaldehyde resin glues (found in MDF, chipboard and plywood) which can off gas. Vintage furniture can look great when given a lick of paint or even a little wall paper.

Mattresses can trap high levels of dust which leads to dust mites, these can be vacuumed clear. Alternatively you could use a closed cell structure natural latex mattress or use organic fibre mattresses which wont have been exposed to toxins in the production of the materials. (photo credit: www.inke.nl)

Buy solid wooden toys and avoid plastic toys particularly those made of PVC ( like rubber bath ducks) which contain phthalates- which have been shown to cause a wide array of health issues affecting the liver, kidney, lung and blood pressure, but most importantly is their reported effect on the reproductive tract of boys. (photo credit: www.ecocentric.co.uk)

It goes without saying that you should use low energy bulbs but I advise using the bulbs that have the curly filament encased within a conventional bulb shaped cover. Low energy bulbs contain small quantities of mercury which can be released if broken. Alternatively use a tough lamp shade such as polypropylene, which can be recycled at the end of its useful life.

Heating and ventilation– thermostatic valves
Bedrooms need to be both heated and properly ventilated – this will keep the rooms living conditions healthy and comfortable. Children’s bedrooms should be kept at between 64.5 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, this can be achieved by using a thermostatic radiator valve to regulate room temperature.
Use trickle vents in the windows to maintain regular air changes, this will reduce the build op of damp and mold. (photo credit: www.ecocentric.co.uk)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Publishers Weekly mentions Oliver Heath's "Urban Eco Chic" book

Publishers Weekly's feature "Gimme shelter," published on October 13, mentioned Urban Eco Chic:

"When it comes to things green, Quadrille Publishing offers Urban Eco Chic (Sept.) by noted eco-designer Oliver Heath, who wants to “create energy-efficient homes that are beautifully designed” and combine elements of “vintage, nature and technology.” In keeping with that goal, the book is printed with vegetable-based inks on FSC-certified paper and recyclable laminate."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Old furniture, new style: Oliver Heath's tips on refinishing furniture

One of my true pleasures is finding old pieces of furniture and giving it a new lease of life; it’s the excitement of the potential, the burst of creativity and finally it’s appreciating what you’ve made – knowing that its totally unique to you. Vintage furniture will add character and identity and it can help make your home feel more human – taking the harder edge off contemporary design.

I often scour markets and thrift stores for classic pieces such as chairs, bureaus or cupboards– older furniture won’t have any of the chemical nasties found in their modern counterparts and they are often built to last with solid timber – so all it takes area few ideas and a little work to give each piece a new lease of life.

Why not try a few of these:

Sand the piece down (to give it a key) then re-paint it using natural paints- which won't have toxins.

If the piece is covered in layers of paint, sand it down a little to give it a distressed look.

Or even create the distressed look yourself by adding layers of paint and gently removing them once dry– tonal shades of the same color work best.

Paint the interior drawers a vibrant – even shocking- color for a real burst of life.

Paint a section in natural paints to match your room, and then cover other areas in patterned wall paper, although wrapping paper or squares of origami paper will be cheaper as they are available in smaller amounts.

Apply gold or silver leaf over sections of the unit to give it a soft but rich reflective glow.

Replace the handles and legs with something more contemporary and if there is a lock with a key, fit a decorative tassel for a touch of glamour. These smaller details really work wonderfully.

Use stencils – such as flowers, leaves, or historic patterns to add color and texture. It could even have a graffiti feel for a children’s bedroom.

Cover the piece in blackboard paint and then use it as a memo board by writing on it with chalk – which can look fantastic although it’s best done over a solid floor as it can create dust.

Use a paper decoupage (cut out images or text from magazines) and cover the piece – choose similar colored images or even just black and white for the most coherent effect.

For chairs simply recover fabric sections in something retro, vintage or even really contemporary – the change will work wonderfully.