Design for life

Eco-minded residents in Waltham Forest are opening their homes to the public, writes Sue Wheat

Waltham Forest Green Open Homes

Isabel in front of her cedar-clad kitchen extension

Keeping warm, keeping bills down, and reducing energy use, are priorities for us all. Waltham Forest Green Open Homes is back again for a fourth year running, this time showcasing 16 venues in the borough that have put their ‘eco’ dreams to the test – often with fantastic results.

Co-ordinated by Walthamstow’s long-established environmental centre and cafe, the Hornbeam, Waltham Forest Green Open Homes takes place over the weekend of 16th and 17th September.

It is always an amazing weekend. For example on Bedford Avenue you can see external insulation on an end of terrace home, which has the extra excitement factor of being beautifully painted with a mural of William Morris by Wood St Walls!

We have various different types of homes involved; some are owned, some are rented, some were even built by the residents themselves, such as Headway Gardens in Chapel End. We even have a housing co-op on this year’s trail.

Two homes have solar water and heating, and Clare and Dan Kelly can explain all about their hi-tech rainwater harvesting system, which collects rainwater in a tank under their garden and feeds two toilets and a washing machine.

But most homes are showcasing low-to-medium budget solutions. One popular venue is Rebecca Tully and Luke Sudbury’s terraced Warner 1930s home – with a DIY solar shower made out of a radiator, as well as a composting loo! Jale Charlie Avril’s upcycled, vintage home, workshop, and garden, is a creative, practical and low-cost inspiration.

Sir George Monoux College is a new venue because of its impressive drive to become ‘zero carbon’ by not only installing solar panels, recycling systems, bee hives, and bat boxes, but making it only possible for students to recharge their phones by plugging them into their green gym! The college in Chingford Road is also the venue for our ‘meet the experts’ event on Tuesday 26th September.

Brochures with a map and opening times are available from various libraries, the Hornbeam, and from cafes and other venues around the borough. We are grateful to our sponsors Charles French Trust, Providus Financial, Abbott Damp Proofing, The Mall Walthamstow, AM and Co Accounting, and Wood St Walls.

For more information and to see a full list of events planned for Waltham Forest Green Open