Sustainability and Interiors Questions // Designing a Sustainable Kitchen

Welcome back to the Semper Journal, after a much-needed break we are back and ready to tackle 2021! For the first journal of 2021 I wanted to continue with a really great question I received from Instagram, “What’s your biggest consideration when designing a sustainable kitchen?”.

This is a fantastic question and something I get asked a lot. Like everything in design and environmental consciousness there are many factors in play, however, I’ll break it down into a couple of the key considerations

What is best to use for joinery?

Most cupboards, drawers and cabinet faces are made from a product called MDF.

“Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) is a reconstituted wood panel product. It is a dry-processed fibreboard manufactured from wood fibres, as opposed to veneers or particles, and is denser than plywood and particleboard. MDF has an even density throughout and is smooth on both sides.

MDF is reconstituted into wood sheets in a variety of widths and lengths. Bonding is achieved by the addition of synthetic resin adhesives, which are cured under heat and pressure. Paraffin wax is added to assist with water repellence, while other chemicals can be added during manufacturing for more specific protection.” - Wood Solutions

There are concerns about using standard MDF as it contains formaldehyde adhesives, however, there are better quality MDF products which contain low formaldehyde alternatives. E0 is an accreditation that signifies the lowest level of formaldehyde emissions, making the product safer in your space and for the trades working with it.

MDF is made from recycled wood shavings and fibres which otherwise might be discarded, in doing so it creates a less wasteful approach to construction.

Good quality, energy efficient appliances

Using energy efficient appliances in your kitchen is one of the easiest ways to make your kitchen greener, for instance, an energy effect dishwasher uses less water than hand washing. When replacing old appliances, I suggest looking for products that are in the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) and Energy Rating schemes.

Check your VOC emissions

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemical compounds that are in building products, paints, and furnishings, they evaporate into the air and surrounding environment. VOCs are unfortunately found all around us in our homes and businesses. Breathing in low levels of VOCs can increase some people’s risk of health problems, however, studies have advised that it can make symptoms worse for people with asthma or have chemical sensitives. VOCs have also been linked the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW has stated that ‘paint accounts for 16% of all VOC emissions’.

The best way to reduce the emissions are risk is:

- Use Ultra-Low-VOC paints such as Rockcote Ecostyle and Zero-VOC Ecolour

- Use Low-VOC primers and undercoats such as Zinsser Smart-Prime and Oikos Fundgrap

- Use Low-VOC enamel paints such as BIO Enamel Lacquer and Livos Enamel

- Use an Accredited Green Painter and Builder

About Amelia //

Hi there! My name is Amelia, I am the creative director and owner of Semper Interiors. I created Semper Interiors after working in hospitality studios for many years, during that time I found myself feeling increasingly guilty about the waste created throughout each project. I wanted to be able to design and create spaces that have a minimal impact on our beautiful earth. My approach to sustainability is based around ensuring my projects have longevity in both quality and aesthetic, supporting local trades, artisans and suppliers and using natural materials.

Semper Interiors a bespoke interior design studio based in New Farm Brisbane that focuses on sustainability and conscious construction practices. If you are interested in how we can help you make your home or business more environmentally conscious and beautifully designed please get in touch at

#interiordesign #sustainability #sustainabledesign #interiordesigner


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