Category Archives: Ecological design

Ecological design


I’m converted: your unique hideaway

10 Feb 15
Michelle Gaffaney
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Have you ever dreamed of having your own private bolthole? Maybe you want a private haven at the end of the garden, or think you could break up your workplace with an enclosed meeting room. We’ll help you create a unique hideaway with charm and style.

1. Choose your structure

The first step is to choose the structure for your new bolthole. The sky’s the limit with this – it could be an old bus, a railway carriage, a freight container or an old boat; or maybe you want to build something new from reclaimed materials. It could be a treehouse, perched up in a sturdy tree with beautiful views, or an old caravan given a new lease of life.

2. Get the basics right

Here’s where our design expertise is at its most practical – you’ll want your bolthole to be warm, damp-free and easy to look after. We’ll make sure the basics are right by installing the right insulation and materials to keep your hideaway just the way you like it.

3. Decide on a style

Your unique hideaway will work best if you make a personal imprint on it. Maybe you have a collection of old cameras that could be put on display, or some beautiful rugs and paintings left to you by a family member? Juxtaposing vintage style with modern comfort is what it’s all about, so we’ll twin antiques with sofas and beds in cosy, flouncy patterns.

4. Select magical lighting

For enchanted summer evenings and cosy winter mornings, lighting is crucial to making your bolthole a success. Candles, lanterns and fairy lights will help you get into a chilled, reflective mood. We can help you find the perfect lights to give your converted space a magical atmosphere.

For more great ideas, take a look at Distractify’s gallery of cool conversions, including some amazing converted grain silos!

We’d love to help you make your conversion a success. Get in touch on 01706 813777 to tell us about your unique hideaway plans.

Environmentally friendly design for a green home

26 Jan 15
Michelle Gaffaney
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There are so many reasons why environmentally friendly design is important. It helps save energy, reduces pollution and protects the planet, and there’s something about an eco home that keeps giving a feeling of calmness and reassurance. If you’re interested in a green home but don’t know where to start, let us help!

Clean, green and full of style

Mainstream building materials have some pretty nasty things in them, including solvents and other harmful chemicals. These materials are often energy-intensive to produce and difficult to dispose of safely. At Greenstone Design we can help you choose environmentally friendly, natural materials that won’t bring anything nasty into your home.

Saving energy with common sense

We can help you make informed decisions about the construction of your home and the appliances you fill it with. Ensuring walls are well-insulated and draughts are kept out is a must, and we’ll stop at nothing to make sure the job is done right. When it comes to choosing boilers, washing machines and other gadgets, we’ll help you find something that looks right and will be good value over the longer term.

Peace of mind in a green home

It’s so satisfying to live in a home that is environmentally friendly, well-insulated and filled with attractive, non-toxic materials. You can have that extra peace of mind that your home is not costing the earth. It can change your whole way of thinking. Inspired? Take a look at this gallery of Eco Homes to get the ideas rolling, then call us to discuss your dream home on 01706 813777.

Give your home a Hobbit house makeover

19 Nov 14
Michelle Gaffaney
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Tired of hard edges and harsh colours? It’s time to take things back to a simpler time with a home interior inspired by Bilbo Baggins. Choose natural materials, rounded edges and cosy lighting to make your home a haven.

My favourite parts of the Lord of the Rings films are the bits before anything really happens, when they are all just hanging out in the Shire. I can’t get enough of those houses with the round doorways and tunnel-like corridors. What is it about them that makes them so alluring, and how can it be recreated in a real home? Here are some top tips for injecting just the right amount of hobbit into your home:

1. Rounded edges

Those circular doors and windows really make the Hobbit houses distinctive and cute. In real life, recreating a full circle in external walls might be a little impractical. That’s no reason not to go for a rounded effect, though. Curvy skirting boards, window frames and doorways will soften the edges of your home – you’ll never want to see a right angle again. Check out these rounded doorways on for inspiration.

2. Natural materials

This might sound like a no-brainer, but it can be harder than you might think. That plastic-coated coffee table from Ikea might seem like a bargain – but to really get the natural effect you’ll need some commitment to natural materials. Again, think of rounded shapes: ceramics, polished wood in its natural state and smooth stone. Pick a light earthy colour like terracotta and the effect will be warm and comforting.

3. Glowing lights

Modern spotlights would be out of place in your nestlike Hobbit house: here, it’s got to be daylight or firelight, nothing else will do. Of course, we’re not all blessed with huge windows or the time to build a fire every day. You can create the same look by choosing your lamps and bulbs carefully. Go for glowing orange shades to brighten up dark corners, and don’t be afraid to accessorise with hurricane lamps and candles.

4. Plan that layout

Another things I’ve noticed about the Hobbit house: it’s small and tunnel-like but not claustrophobic. This is because you can always see through an archway into a room beyond, and perhaps a room beyond that. Planning your home layout carefully can help you to achieve this too. Aligning windows, corridors and angles in the right way will help to create a feeling of spaciousness and continuity.

5. Get close to nature

The biggest draw of a Hobbit house is its interaction with the natural world outside. Think about it: grassy roofs, bunnies hopping around the lawn, roses around the door: the house’s interaction with its surroundings is the key to its charm. You can get the look with a sedum roof, beautiful creepers, and a gorgeous stepping stone front path. This beautiful Hobbit holiday home from Canopy and Stars will give you the idea!

Are you ready to give your home the Hobbit treatment? Call us on 01706 813777 or email to get started!

External cladding: Larch and lime

10 Oct 14
Michelle Gaffaney
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Now the straw walls of our eco-classroom at Castle Hill School have had their first coat of lime render, it’s time for the cladding.

We’re using Scottish-grown larch boards – a durable hardwood which will naturally mature over time to an attractive silvery grey.

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A ‘truth window’, created so that users of and visitors to the building can see the material behind the cladding.

Other parts of the building have been simply rendered using traditional lime, a material often used on straw buildings. Lime is a carbon neutral building material, created by burning limestone. When lime is applied to any surface, the carbon dioxide released during the burning process is re-absorbed as the render dries.

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Cosy cob reading nooks

09 Oct 14
Michelle Gaffaney
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One lovely feature of our straw bale eco classroom is the creation of two cosy reading nooks.

They’re made from cob, a mixture of clay, straw and aggregate (more on cob here) and are specially designed so that children can curl up inside with a good book.

They’re not yet finished, but these photos show the raw state – a simple wooden platform and cob casing.

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Arthur, our plasterer, tries it out for size.

Straw bale classroom: Lime render and clay plaster

02 Sep 14
Michelle Gaffaney
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Our straw bale classroom at Castle Hill School is really starting to take shape now!

The walls are up, the roof is on, and it’s time to start covering the walls.

The naked straw walls, before rendering.

Externally, we’re using a lime render to protect the building from the elements.

Lime is often used on straw bale and cob buildings and is a traditional building material. It is particularly suited to our harsh Yorkshire weather, as it has a sponge-lique quality, absorbing rainwater in bad weather, then releasing it, rather than allowing it to soak into the inner wall.

Here’s Arthur, our plasterer, tackling the first coat:

Lime render

Arthur lime rendering

The difference is astounding, and it’s so exciting seeing the classroom start to look more like a ‘real building’!



Internally, we’re using clay – the oldest and simplest building material of all.

Clay is applied to the wall much like regular plaster, except that more coats will be needed. We start with layers of rough clay plaster, mixed with coarse sand to grip tight to the straw walls. Once this has built up, we apply a final layer of fine clay plaster (made using a finer sand) to give a nice smooth finish.

clay plaster