Ahhhh...big sigh of contentment... It's my day off. My day off from being a Mum that is. I've got my interior design hat on again and I love it. I must love it. It's been 13 years since I finished university and started working at a small Architectural firm in Mackay. And I'm still working as an interior designer. (and still in Mackay!). The hours are long and sometimes it can be an extremely frustrating industry to work in but I'm still here. It must be love. I think that it's because I love working with people and helping them realise their dreams and ideas, making impractical spaces function again, turning ugliness into a thing of beauty, encouraging good practice of sustainability....
Don't get me wrong, I love being a Mum too. It's been a bit of a shock to the system.... Never have I folded so many clothes in my life, or been so domesticated (my former years were filled with share houses and travelling the world on a disposable income) but it's nice to have a few hours in a row during the day dedicated to my career.
So it's 10am, I've got a coffee and a homemade chocolate, I'm sat at my relatively tidy desk and I'm ready to work! Today, it's some marketing, some book-keeping and tidying some loose ends.
Becoming a Mum has definitely changed my ideas about the world, or in some cases, reminded me what it's all about. And because of these thoughts about sustainability and becoming more eco-conscious, I have had second thoughts about continuing my interior design career and have dabbled with the idea of studying permaculture instead. But, as my good friend put it, if we are in the industry, we should have more influence on how things are done. So it's probably worth staying here and trying to initiate or encourage change within the construction industry. (Have you ever seen a rubbish skip on a building site? So much is thrown 'away')
I've certainly been heard to say in the past "Oh well, those blinds are so cheap, you could always throw them away when they deteriorate" and "Oh well, if you get sick of it, you can always update your look and start afresh in a few years time". Reading the book "Zero Waste Home" by Bea Johnson, who is an artist by trade, was life-changing. She is an incredible example of how you can live in a modern, consumer-driven world without producing waste (or very minimal waste). And she does it in a very stylish way too. I think the biggest revelation is - there is no 'away'. We are just filling up our planet earth with disposable, single-use items and plastic. And plastic takes millions of years to break down. And it ends up in our waterways and ultimately into the food chain.
When we finished our kitchen renovation, we moved everything into the cupboards in a big hurry because we were having the timber floors sanded and re-polished and the interior of the house painted. I remember being disappointed that despite having a new kitchen, we didn't have enough storage cupboards. I wish that I'd read "Zero Waste Home" and "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying" and other such books on minimalism before we'd done the renovation and perhaps the end result would have been very different. Now I think we have too many cupboards! I loved the Grand Designs episode of the East Sussex man, James Strangeways who'd lived on a boat his whole life - he only wanted a couple of cupboards in his new kitchen! This house was designed by his nephew Ben Hebblethwaite of Godsmark Architecture.
I think that embracing a more minimalist lifestyle that is filled with experiences rather than stuff is something really worthwhile. Less time cleaning, more time doing things you love. One of the reasons I love living in Mackay is because we have access to some of the greatest outdoors in the world - we have the beaches, the rainforests, 4WDing tracks, camping, fishing and we have a beautiful climate.
If we can build kitchens and bathrooms that are built to last a long time, even if it costs more money to do so, I think it is the way of the future. Recycling and re-using materials is also so important. Helen Edwards of Recycled Interiors has made it her mission to promote this concept. Another Grand Designs episode featured an Earthship house in New Zealand which reuses materials such as tyres to create a well-ventilated space with natural light. I loved the windows made from glass bottles.
At the end of the day, where there is a will, there is a way. And it's all about turning thoughts + words into actions. And I hope that we can all work together to create sustainable homes + workplaces as much as possible.