Towards a zero-waste lifestyle with beautiful Hokan bowls


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Hokan bowls (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

As you might already know, I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of plastic we bring into our home by buying refillable laundry products, wooden washing up brushes and switching to hand soap instead of bottles. So you can imagine how much I love these stylish Hokan bowls, which you can take from the oven to the table and then use in the fridge, meaning no more plastic storage boxes.

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(Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

Designed by Alistair Donald, whose father is a renowned jewellery designer, the bowls are beautifully crafted from sustainable stoneware and are tough enough to last a life time. Motivated by a desire to cut down on food waste and put an end to precariously balanced saucers of leftovers in the fridge, Alistair has designed a stylish set of bowls with lids that can go in the oven, are attractive enough to serve at the table and then can be stacked neatly in the fridge to save leftovers.

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Me cooking a nutritious meal in my new Hokan bowls (image credit: Emily Wheeler).

The word ‘Hokan’ means ‘safekeeping’ in Japanese and Alistair has designed the bowls with this in mind for food. With an ethos of conscientious cooking, compassionate and efficient living (right up my street), he has designed them to be multi-functional, robust and as aesthetically pleasing as they are eco-friendly.

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The bowls are beautiful enough to be used to serve at the table (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

The bowls can be used to bake and roast food in the oven and are microwavable and dishwasher safe. Because the interchangeable lids fit securely, the bowls stack neatly on top of each other and leftovers to be stored without any smell in the fridge and without nasty chemicals leaching out of plastic containers. As kitchens get smaller, space saving designs like this are becoming essential because they reduce the number of pans and storage tubs we need to buy as well as reducing food waste. Motivated by his quest to live a zero-waste lifestyle, Alistair has created the ultimate in functional yet beautiful design.

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Hokan bowls used to serve at the table straight from the oven at my house (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

Hokan bowls come in Pitch Black, Antique White, Cobalt Blue, Sea Green and Lemon Yellow. I was kindly given a set of Pitch Black, which we have used daily since they arrived, using them to cook  Mediterranean vegetable bakes, fruit crumbles and even mussels; taking them from preparation to oven to table, and then into the fridge for leftovers. Now even the inside of our fridge is carefully considered thanks to the bowls’ elegantly sculptural shape.

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A set of Pitch Black Hokan bowls on the worktop in our kitchen (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

Hokan are launching new ranges of stackable rectangular oven dishes soon as well a range of sustainable, upcycled textiles including oven gloves, aprons, tea towels and cloth bags to store vegetables in (did you know root vegetables last longer stored in a cloth bag?). I have a growing collection of the bowls but can’t wait to get my hands on the vegetable bags and table cloths too.

If you fancy adding a set of gorgeous zero-waste Hokan bowls to your kitchen, I have a discount code especially for you. Just enter the code HokanEW15 to get 15% off your order (valid 7-23 February 2020).

 

 

Biophilic design – what is it and why does it matter?


Biophilic design, or ‘biophilia’, means bringing our love of nature into our homes and workplaces to support our health and wellbeing. We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to live in harmony with the natural world and our health is dependent on our access to natural light, clean air, water and plants, but we now spend 93% of out time indoors, which is having a huge impact. Biophilic design is proven to help us feel less stressed, sleep better and help us to stay healthier as well as happier.

Sitting in unnatural positions hunched over keyboards, looking at screens under harsh synthetic lights and breathing polluted indoor air all cause us stress, take their toll on our health and are part of the modern disconnect with nature. Biophilic design offers several easy-to-follow principles that can support us to feel better physically and emotionally by bringing nature indoors to create more human-centred spaces that calm our minds and lower our heart rates.

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A biophilically designed student hall of residence in Lisbon.

I recently heard the renowned biophilic designer Oliver Heath talking about biophilic design at a trade show and was blown away by some of the research that supports the positive impact of biophilic design on our health and wellbeing. Oliver explained that patients who were treated in hospitals where there was natural light and views of nature recovered from operations faster than those in traditional wards and had a 22% reduced need for pain medication. Homes become more calming and restorative, with 7-8% less crime attributed to areas with access to nature, including significant reductions in domestic violence. Children who learn in biophilically designed education spaces had increased rates of learning of 20-25%, improved test results, concentration levels and attendance and there was a reduced impact of ADHD. The wealth of research into the benefits of creating spaces that bring us closer to nature, has got companies like Google, Apple and Amazon investing heavily in biophilic design for their workspaces because of the benefits to staff wellbeing and productivity and this is something we can all do in our homes too.

So how can we harness the positive impact of biophilic design at home?

Houseplants

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Houseplants in my kitchen (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

Plants help to purify the air and are great for filtering out VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that cause indoor air pollution. VOCs come from paints, glues, household cleaners, scented candles, woodburners, cooking fumes and even MDF furniture and synthetic furnishings. Surprisingly, the air inside our homes is even more polluted than the air outside, and plants help to purify the air and produce oxygen. Not only this but they look beautiful and seeing plants helps to reduce blood pressure, stress and anxiety.

Some of the best air purifying house plants include peace lilies, ferns, English ivy, orchids and mother-in-law’s tongue.

Natural materials and wood

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Whitewashed floors that show the natural grain of the wood in my kitchen (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

Being able to see and touch natural wood helps to reduce stress and anxiety and can make us feel safe and uplifted. Try exposed wooden floors, either varnished or white washed so you can still see the grain of the wood, like I have in our home. Wooden furniture helps us feel grounded or why not go all out and introduce some wooden timber cladding?

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Our wooden dining table and chairs all have a lovely warm, natural wood patina at home (Image credit: Emily Wheeler). Having a comfortable space to come together and eat with friends and family also makes us happier by supporting meaningful close relationships with our loved ones.

Natural light

Central to biophilic design is the importance of maximising natural light. We need daily exposure to bright natural light in order to regulate our circadian rhythm, or body clock. Without natural light, we can become depressed and anxious and our sleep suffers, which can have serious health implications. So throw open those curtains and blinds, get out for a walk every morning, and if you’re renovating, make sure you add plenty of big windows and roof lights.

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Roof lights and large windows help to maximise natural light in our home (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

Framing views of nature

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The view from our dining space into the garden (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

Being able to see a natural environment is also beneficial, so try to think about what you see out of your windows. If you can, add window boxes to outside ledges or plants along indoor window sills. Hanging plants look great, and if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make sure you make the most of it and can see it even when you’re inside.

Natural materials and textiles

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Natural materials in our loft bedroom at home (Image credit: Emily Wheeler)

Using natural materials and textiles also makes us feel better and won’t leach nasty chemicals into your environment, so try to choose natural linen, wool, silk or cotton for textiles and decorate using eco paints (see my blog post on the five best eco paints here).

Other important biophilic principles include bringing in soothing rhythmical patterns, such as the flickering flame of a fire or candle or the gentle trickling of water and introducing physical patterns inspired by nature such as wooden grains, floral motifs and natural stone. Try turning down the lights in the evening and lighting a fire or candles, while enjoying your new house plants and see how much more relaxed you feel.

 

 

Easy swaps for more eco friendly cleaning


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As well as trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use at home, I have been trying to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals we use. This is important because harsh chemical cleaning products, sprays and even scented candles can all pollute our indoor environment and have a harmful impact on our health as well as the environment. I’m by no means perfect when it comes to sustainable and natural living, but these are some of the small steps I’ve taken on our journey to reduce the harm inside our home.

My first swap is to use refillable liquid detergents so that we are not constantly buying more and more plastic bottles. Luckily, the refill companies are also health and eco conscious and so the refillable products are usually kinder to us and the environment than the harsh chemical cleaners you can buy in the supermarket. We buy refills of washing up liquid and laundry detergent and keep them in glass bottle dispensers. You can buy glass bottles in IKEA or your local refill or hardware store.

Secondly, we have switched from bottles of hand soap to bars of charcoal activated anti bacterial soap. Not only does this mean no plastic, but it also looks great by the sink. There are lots of brands available now from £2 on the high street to £40 a bar from Dior, because of its amazing purifying properties and incredible black colour.

 

Eco swaps Emily Wheeler

The third swap we have made is to wooden utensils, such as this gorgeous washing up brush. Who would have thought washing up could look this good?! Not only does this look a thousand times nicer than a bright plastic one, but it is biodegradable so it won’t harm the earth when you’ve finished with it. Most of the wooden ones have replaceable heads too, so you only need to change the head when it wears out rather than the whole thing.

The fourth swap we have made is to use coconut husk soap holders and scourers. Also biodegradable and plastic free, they look gorgeous and will quickly break down once discarded and can be recycled in your food or garden waste bin as they are completely natural.

And lastly, we have switched to bamboo toothbrushes. Have you ever thought about where your plastic toothbrush goes when you throw it away every three months? Plastic toothbrushes account for a huge amount of plastic pollution and bamboo ones are completely biodegradable and look great too.

A little update


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Hi everyone. You might have noticed I haven’t posted for a while and I thought I would pop on here and give you an update! Just at the point that this blog was really taking off, I decided to take a break from it to focus on growing my little family and renovating our first home. That might not make  much sense, but the truth is that although I had planned to share all that with you here, life with two small boys, our first home to fully refurbish (see above  –  a work in progress!) and full time work meant that it wasn’t really possible for me to do that in the way I intended. Something had to give!

Anyway, here I am, a little older and wiser and getting ready to share my journey with you once more. It’s going to take a little while for me to give this web site a refresh but stick with me – it will be worth it I promise!

The new blog will feature an updated portfolio of my writing and styling for magazines;  my interior design portfolio; pictures of our home and renovation journey and will have a focus on sustainability and community, which is where the last few years of my work have led me. I’ve got so much to tell you about what I have been up to and about the exciting projects I have coming up. More on that soon…

Please stay tuned and I hope you will keep checking in. In the meantime, please follow me on Instagram @emilywheeler.interiors where I post regular updates.

Thanks so much for your support and see you soon!

Emily x

Tapiola: my latest design project


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A little preview of a longer post I’m writing about the award-winning architect designed 1970s house Tapiola, which I designed the interiors for. The brief was to bring it up to date for the owners, who had been living abroad, and the house was feeling a little unloved. I designed it with a nod to the Scandinavian background of the owner and in sympathetic tones to the materials of the house itself, which was designed to sit gently within the surrounding trees and natural environment. More coming soon…

Cool rooms for kids


I had a baby boy a few weeks ago and while he is sleeping with me at the moment, my thoughts have turned to decorating the nursery where he will join his big brother in a few months (hopefully he will be sleeping through!). I’ve been really lucky to have styled some homes where there are super cool kids rooms, so I thought I would share some of them with you here. I hope you find them inspirational and fun. If you’d like to see more of the lovely homes featured here, you can read about them in my new book Creative Living London. (Photographs by Ingrid Rasmussen)

LONDONFIELDS  904This room is filled with bright colours and plenty of spaces for the kids to hang out, such as this tipi. What I loved about this kids’ room though is that it is also home to some very grown up art, which the owners were not afraid to hang in the children’s space. On the contrary, they chose some great art specifically for the room and the kids loved it.

SAKOUI  191SAKOUI  200This adorable room belongs to fashion stylist Claire Durbridge’s two young children. Claire has used lots of clever styling tricks to personalise the room, making it super cool without being too cutesy or obvious. The gorgeous animals on the walls were cut out of some gift wrap and glued to the walls, while Claire took an old vintage lamp and added a black pompom trim. The black and white monochrome theme gives it a sophisticated finish, while Claire’s little flourishes and plenty of vintage keep it quirky and fun.

GOODHOOD  034GOODHOOD  045How cool is this for a nursery?! This super stylish space belongs to Jo and Kyle’s adorable little boy. Jo and Kyle own the lifestyle and design store Goodhood and they have decorated their nursery with the same eye for detail and design as the rest of their fabulous home. Jo found the Burger King sign at a flea market, while the other artworks are part of the couple’s own collection. Filled with colour and a mix of modern and vintage, this is a very stylish space indeed.

MARCNEWSON  107Last up, designer Marc Newson and stylist Charlotte Stockdale’s nursery, which has its own bathroom. The vivid red is vibrant and fun while the wall sticker keeps the space child friendly.

My top tips for kids rooms:

1. Think long term. You don’t want to be redecorating in a year’s time, so try to choose a scheme that can grow with your child. Consider using wallpapers or furnishings that would work equally well in 1,3 or 5 years’ time or even using grown up styles that can work for kids. Cole and Son have several great wallpapers that will grow with your child, for example.

2. Think practical. Kids’ rooms get a real bashing, so don’t put anything fragile or precious in there! It seems obvious, but it’s tempting to splash out on those beautiful items, only to be horrified when your little angels take a pair of scissors or a felt tip pen to them.

3. Try adding some vintage. Vintage furniture is often cheaper and better made than new and will withstand the most boisterous toddler as well as adding a timeless and personal element, more popular with older children. Online auctions, car boot fairs and antique markets are all good places to look.

4. Encourage their creativity. Children love to get creative and they will love their room even more if they are allowed to be creative in it. While you might not want them splashing paint around, consider painting out a wall, piece of furniture or even a small design on the wall in blackboard paint so that they can scribble away to their heart’s content.

5. Create a den or hiding place. Children love to hide themselves away sometimes and adding a canopy over the bed, a tipi or a den will give them a special place to hang out, read and make believe.

My favourite stores:

1. Kidsen: Clothing, shoes and nursery decor from the coolest Scandinavian brands. Really worth checking out.

2. Cole and Son: Fabulous wallpapers that suit all ages and styles.

3. The Modern Baby: A treasure trove of decorative accessories and ideas with a contemporary feel.

4. IKEA: IKEA offers great design at great prices. Think outside the box – for example in our nursery I have repurposed their £3 spice racks as bookshelves and they look fantastic (more on this and other ideas another time…)

5. Auctions, antique fairs and car boots: Absolutely the best places to buy pre-loved nursery items, quirky artwork and unique pieces of furniture.

In the pink


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pink living room

dressing tableTrends in interiors often follow the latest catwalk looks and this season it has been all about pink. Now, I love a bit of pink and my shade of choice is a dusty rose, but many shy away from this pretty colour because they are worried it will look too cutesy and too girly. A shot of pink in an interior can actually inject a bit of fun and warmth and you don’t have to go the whole hog – just a cushion or bunch of pink blooms will elevate a space and choosing a stronger shade will keep the look fresh and modern. It is also well known in the trade for being the most flattering colour against all skin tones – it makes you look younger and healthier into the bargain and what’s not to like about that?!

My new book is out now!


Book Cover

 

I’m immensely proud and excited to announce that my new book, Creative Living London, was published on 2nd September! It features 34 homes belonging to creative people in London including Ally Capellino, Marc Newson and Charlotte Stockdale, Lisa Eldridge and Robin Derrick, Zandra Rhodes, JamesPlumb, Jo Wood and Kate Halfpenny as well as loads of up and coming artists, designers and makers. We hope it provides you all with plenty of inspiration! The feedback from the press has been incredible and I would like to say a huge thank you to all the magazines that have featured some of the homes in the book. I hope you enjoy it!