Advance Warning: This is a VERY picture heavy post!
If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know I’ve always, always loved interiors and houses; I started watching Changing Rooms in the good old 1990’s, tucked up next to my Mum on the sofa, and spent ages painting shoe boxes with stencils to create ‘stylish storage’. Years later, I’ve moved on from stencils, but still love all the design shows on TV; anything by George Clarke is a winner (although Restoration Man is my absolute, absolute favourite) and I’m partial to a bit of Grand Designs (have to say though, I don’t always quite ‘get’ the building styles….). So when the lovely folk at Vaillant got in touch and kindly offered me two tickets to Grand Designs Live, I couldn’t accept quick enough!
If you’ve not heard of Vaillant (and you probably won’t have unless you’re into ecological building and sustainable energy), they’re basically one of the original heating brands, and started life way back in 1874. They’re currently one of the most environmentally friendly companies offering heating solutions in the UK, and are leading the way with renewable energy solutions – I know a lot of you will be skim reading this but seriously – if you’re thinking about anything from a new boiler to building your own home, do pop over and take a look at their website. (Especially the wonderfully reassuring ‘Environmental’ section!)
For Grand Designs Live, Vaillant had sponsored Kevin’s Green Heroes, the section where Kevin McCloud hand picks some of the most environmentally friendly and ecologically innovative products around and gathers them all together into one great feature. One of our pipe dreams is to eventually buy some land and build our own small, self-sufficient, carbon-neutral (or as close to it as possible!) house – while I’m smart enough to realise that this is unlikely to happen because a) we’re skint and b) will probably always be skint, I still find all of this sort of stuff really interesting – so this was definitely the one thing I was looking forward to seeing most. And it absolutely didn’t disappoint…..
My favourites were (from the top): Rupert Blanchard and his beautiful furniture made entirely from reclaimed and waste materials, the wonderful Reclaimed Flooring Company, who not only turn unwanted items into fabulous flooring, but also help to support local communities with training and employment, and the incredible pendant lights by Tom Raffield, who only uses sustainably sourced wood and works from his studio in Cornwall. Also, a special mention to the Rotaire Dryline, which is so simple but at the same time, absolute genius!
There was even an entire house being built (!) with eco-friendly materials and traditional skills – with the option to attend various workshops throughout the day.
I honestly thought that after the Green Heroes, it was all going to be trade stalls and products, so you can imagine how ridiculously over-excited I was when I stumbled into the shed section. The. SHED. SECTION. A whole section dedicated to sheds and small buildings. The first three photos are from the Echo Living Echowave pod, which was debuted at Grand Designs Live; the Echo Living pods are made entirely with sustainable materials and are designed to function off-grid – so basically, my ideal home! You can find out more about the company here, and read all about the new Echowave pods here.
Just around the corner were George Clarkes Amazing Sheds – there was one for children and one for adults, which I found myself gazing at alongside another woman who, it turned out, also worked from home! The design was so clever – the stools came apart and could be stored flat in the wall, the storage could be moved around on a peg-board style system and the sofa folded up into the wall. I pretty much wanted to get into it and never leave!
The rest of my favourites were purely design based; there was a huge array of decorating styles, from bright colours and geometrics to plants, pastels and retro furniture.
The Rinascente Gallery (above) make amazing industrial tables and benches, all from reclaimed materials. They’re part of a Christian charity called Renewal Northwest who help people with broken lives and long-term unemployent to get back on their feet. How good is that?!
This was my absolute favourite room – the plants, the light and bright colours, the plant hanging from the shelf bracket (seriously, how have I never thought of that?!), all by MK Design
Huge thanks to Vaillant for a lovely day – I’d definitely recommend going to Grand Designs Live if you’re in any way interested in interiors, design or sustainable building.