Sustainability – Home Renovation DIY Part 1

So if you had read my last post, you would have learned that the Hubs and I relocated to West Kelowna this past fall. To get the townhouse ready for sale and get some bothersome things in the new house taken care of, we have undertaken some home renovation DIY projects.

As usual, our DIY’s always aim to upcycle, reuse or reduce the amount of waste generated in our household (or in the Hubs case, work.) There are actually A LOT of projects we have completed, so this blog will just cover a couple DIY’s and updates we have done in the new home. This will be the start of many blog posts to come!

Fast Home Fashion

Most of you at this stage have heard about the fast fashion clothing problem where clothing is quickly and cheaply made and as a result fall apart quickly resulting in both manufacturing and fabric waste. This is also caused by a high turnover in trends, where the next big thing in fashion comes multiple times a year. So last months Must Have piece is now ho-hum.

This phenomenon is also occurring in the home fashion industry. Flatpack moguls like Ikea produce furniture which is not very durable due to their press board construction. Also, home decor trends have increased in turnover, so textiles, paint colour and furniture styles last barely a year before becoming “dated”.

According to the (US) Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of furniture and furnishings taken to a landfill rose from 7.6 million tons in 2005 to 9.69 million tons in 2015

Curbed.com

When selling our townhouse, our Realtor appointed us a home stager who encouraged us to get rid of some of our “dated” 2 year old sofa pillows from Pottery Barn and several other items she deemed off trend. Although I hadn’t ever thought of myself as a home decor Guru, I wouldn’t have thought my style was dated. As someone who understands the detriment of fast fashion and home fashion, I have to admit I am not immune to the allure of a beautiful space or outfit.

DIY’s for the Environment – Lighting

So with those criticisms ringing in my ears, when we moved to our 2003 built home here in West Kelowna, I was distinctly aware of the original features like light fixtures, kitchen cabinets and fireplace. My knee jerk reaction was to tear everything out and start over. Fortunately I gave my head a shake and saw the potential behind some of these projects. I want to encourage my readers to embrace classic and quality home furnishings which will last the test of time. Or, think creatively to use, upcycle or shop secondhand for vintage pieces.This diverts as much as possible from the landfill. What we couldn’t reuse we actually donated to Habitat for Humanity and other charity shops for someone else to utilize.

Recessed Lighting & Flush Mount

The first home renovation DIY we took on was the lighting. All of the recessed lighting were equipped with energy sucking halogen lights. A 50W halogen bulb will use on average 85% more energy than a 7.5W LED equivalent. These included all of the kitchen recessed lighting, fireplace accent lights and eat-in kitchen lights. We replaced all of these bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs which reduce the operating cost and the heat emitted. This means that during our upcoming sweltering summer nights, our lights won’t be contributing to the room temperature.

Boob Lights Everywhere. These two were actually broken and didn’t work with new bulbs.

Next were the Boob Lights. You know what I mean! Those flush mount lights from the 90’s and 2000’s with the frosted glass shaped like a boob complete with accent nipple. The previous home owner ADORED her boob lights and even had coordinated sconces and chandeliers. These were all equipped with incandescent lights (most of them burnt out or had broken glass. or were just plain broken even with new bulbs.)

For this DIY, we actually purchased LED flush mount drum lights from Home Depot. These slimline lights in white and black are BRIGHT, and are estimated to have a light lifespan of 10-12 years. They are also very simple, so I expect their style to be fairly classic or at the very least, not offensive if trends in lighting change during this time. This longevity and plain styling will hopefully keep them out of the landfill long term!

Offending Sconces and Boob Light Chandelier
Slim LED drum lights which have a lifespan of 10-12 years.

Sconces

The next home renovation DIY we took on were the sconce lighting… I hate sconces, not to mention boob light sconces. What to do with the dated lighting scheme and bad/broken fixtures? Well we had a bit of a light bulb moment (pun intended!) I was eyeing up these lovely simple black box scones from Wayfair. But at $219.99 each, it was completely out of the question. So I asked the hubs if he could build me them from wood!

Image from Wayfair.com

Being the ever accommodating husband, and someone extremely against expensive purchases like this, Steve agreed. Using smooth finish plywood upcycled from helicopter part shipping crates, Steve created a simple 3-sided box (3″ x 6″ x 8″) in which he filled and sanded. We then reused the lighting fixture and frame of the boob light sconce. Next we had to adapt the frame slightly by cutting it narrower with a hack saw, then attaching a simple metal L-bracket with a bolt and nut. Lastly, we drilled holes for mounting in the wooden box which we could attach to the frame using another nut and bolt.

Lastly, using Varathane brand 1 Step Stain and Polyurethane in ebony, I finished them off to achieve a similar look to the ones from Wayfair. I especially wanted the subtle grain of the plywood to show through, so I only did one coat on each. I painted the interior with a light gold metallic craft paint to provide even better reflection from the light bulb. We replaced the incandescent bulbs with 5W LED bulbs for a more energy efficient solution. The only thing left to do is touch up the silver bolt head with matte black paint.

So, there are our basically free sconces! Beyond the stain/varathane and wood filler, which we already had from previous projects and some time. Over all this project was basically free, saving us $400.00 plus dollars! We have two of them, one in the stairwell and another in our hallway upstairs. I think they look rather sharp with the other changes we made.

Sconces in Situe

So this was just the beginning of our environmentally friendly home renovation DIY ‘s. Our goal is to reuse as much of the existing hard-decor as possible, while putting our own stamp on the home.

Want to check out some of our other DIY projects from years past? Check these ones out for some inspiration DIY Mug Cloth Pillows and Upcycling in the Name of Nature.

Next week I will be outlining how I updated our fireplace mantle and brought new life to it!

Cheers, Heather

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