It’s hard to deny we live in a ready-made society, where products are increasingly pre-form to facilitate our need for immediacy. The age of hand-crafted individuality using natural materials seems to have been usurped by our love of homogenised ‘shiny and new’. And with that – nothing seems built to last. Have you noticed that white goods seem to have a shorter life expectancy and fixing them costs more than buying a new product?!
As a real estate agent, I see inside more properties in a week than most people would in a year and I’m noticing more ‘honest materials’ being used in property construction than in the past decade. Have we lost our love for pre-form? No, I don’t think so. A return to honest materials may be a combination of frustration with the fast pace of today’s life – a desire to return to a simpler, more natural time – and with that, an appreciation for the natural environment and highly-skilled, bespoke workmanship. When writing our property biographies, we’re also very conscious to showcase ‘honest materials’ to draw buyers’ attention to their existence in the home. So, what are ‘honest materials’?
The feel you get from running your fingers along hand-carved timber or natural stone evokes a sense of emotion that can’t be replicated when running your fingers along laminate. It’s that natural feel, with all its individualities, impurities and characteristics created over time and in line with weather and other natural forces that have produced this natural and very individual product. It’s the warmth and variations in the colour; the knots and whirls. People are all different, no two people are exactly alike and just like people, when you select ‘honest materials’ you are guaranteed to get highly individual pieces. Nature really is our greatest aesthetic mentor!
So, when building or renovating, think about the use of honest materials. Not only are they beautiful examples of nature but nature being what it is, they are very much in tune with their environment. And they will generally last longer. Think about floorboards in a 19thC home – nearly 200 hundred years of use. Will the prefab flooring of today have that longevity?? Straw bale and mud brick houses are known for their insulation properties. Timber for warmth. If you can use natural floorboards instead of prefab veneered boards, use them. If floorboards are covered with vinyl, tiles or carpet, think about removing the coverings and leave your floorboards exposed. Remove plaster from brick walls and fireplaces to expose the beauty of raw bricks. If you’re worried about brick dust, simply seal the bricks with BondCrete. The use of natural stone is becoming more prevalent, replicating nature in all its craggy glory and merging a home with its environment. An underlying theme in honest materials is their simplicity and functionality – just like nature!