April 19th, 2015
If you are like most people you probably don’t give too much thought to where your furniture comes from, its origins or how it was made. Let’s face it, the hectic nature of living day-to-day life often means that you just lack the time and energy to think about how your products are made, by whom and out of what kind of materials.
However, the simple fact is that how your furniture is made can impact not just the health of local ecosystems, but your health as well. There are also other concerns, such are you really getting a good value for your dollar? In this article, we will turn our attention to the origins of furniture and why those origins should be of concern to you!
One of the most commonly overlooked factors in furniture is value. Cheap furniture is usually cheap for a reason, and that reason is that cheap furniture just doesn’t last. Furniture that is made out of real wood is highly durable and will last for many years to come. However, the overwhelming majority of cheap furniture is not made out of wood. Instead, cheap furniture is usually made out of MDF.
MDF is, simply stated, something that you don’t want in your house and is a poor investment. The reason is that MDF is essentially nothing more than wood fragments and sawdust held together with glues and binders that are usually chemical in their origins. These chemicals degas and usually do so for many years. MDF furniture contributes to poor indoor air quality as it degases a range of harmful and even cancer causing chemicals into the air.
Not only does MDF potentially harm your health, but it is also a poor investment. Sawdust and wood fragments held together with chemical binders and glues probably doesn’t sound too tough to you, does it? Facts are that the low quality and inexpensive furniture available in most of the big box stores are not built to last. Instead, this furniture is built to be cheap and look good. Sadly, this furniture will not stand the test of time like real wood. Not only do you have to buy new furniture in a just a few years, but you also have to invest the time to find that furniture and put it together. If you want the best value for your furniture dollar then avoid low quality furniture and opt for solid wood furniture instead!
Factor Three-Your Carbon Footprint
Usually low quality furniture made from the poorest materials possible are created in overseas factors that are often several thousand miles away from their final destination. The end result is something of an environmental disaster. The “cheap” furniture that you buy at a local big box distributor has usually been placed on transport ship and shipped across the ocean. The unpleasant fact of the matter is that the cheap furniture you may have purchased has been created using polluting and environmentally damaging chemicals that make their way into the water supply. It takes a lot of energy to get your low quality furniture across an ocean and that harms the environment a great deal. Large transport ships are amazing polluters. If you want to lower your carbon footprint then it makes sense to buy locally as much as possible.
Factor Four-Does Your Furniture Stimulate the Regional Economy?
Buying locally also stimulates your local economy. Buying real wood furniture from regional manufacturer, even if that manufacturer is on the other side of the country, is far less polluting than buying furniture from overseas. Plus, it also is much better for the economy. Real wood furniture made in the United States lowers your carbon footprint while stimulating the economy. As an added bonus you also benefit financially, as you receive a higher quality product that will stand the test of time.
Factor Five-True, Real and Lasting Beauty
The inexpensive furniture sold in most big box stores is an illusion. There is an illusion of quality and durability, but real wood furniture is different; real wood furniture is the real thing. MDF and other low quality furniture is just pretending to be what wood actually is. Opt for real wood furniture and you will get what you pay for and more.
Real wood has a lasting and real beauty that MDF and other low grade furniture can’t hope to match. When you opt for the knockoff wood furniture sold by big stores, you are losing money in the long run. You are also losing the substantial beauty that real wood furniture can provide. Are you better off having less furniture than furniture that isn’t built to stand the test of time? In a word, “Yes!”
Factor Six-The Social Factor
The bottom line is that where your furniture is made and how matters. Many foreign manufacturers pay pennies an hour and expose workers to harmful work conditions. By refusing to support such labor and business practices you are making an important statement with your dollar. In time, businesses will notice and respond accordingly! Buying locally eliminates the concern while you benefit by receiving a higher quality product. Buying real wood furniture is, in the end, the best choice possible. You’ll have furniture that will look great and provide you with superior functionality for years to come!
We always get what we pay for and with furniture we all want something that is real and reliable. Real wood furniture is just that, real.
April 12th, 2015
Don’t you just love wood? One of the greatest things about this material is that it works so very well in all kinds of interior design. Wood is so versatile and can be used in so many ways that it is no wonder that designers often call on wood to “dress up” all kinds of home. The simple fact is that versatile wood can provide warmth to a home that is difficult to make any other way. Here are seven great tips for integrating wood into your next interior design project!
Wood and Interior Design Tip One-Furniture
When it comes to using wood for your interior design projects, one of the simplest steps is to opt for wood furniture. You have plenty of furniture options, but none are able to beat wood for its overall warmth and appeal.
Absolutely nothing has the charm and character of wood. Wood transforms a room like no other material and its versatility means that pretty much any room can benefit from the incorporation of wood furniture. A well chosen piece in a room can completely transform the environment and take it from dull to classy and warm.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Two-Using Wood in Unexpected Places
Wood really shines when it appears in unexpected places. A great example of this fact is to use wood in the bathroom. Wood used a material in your bathroom, such as in your cabinets or vanity, can be a real eye-opener. People no longer expect to see wood as often in the bathroom, but wood cabinets and vanities can look stunning, especially when coupled with wood flooring.
Wood flooring in the bathroom may present a challenge due to moisture and other factors, but it can be done. Cork flooring, for example, looks great but cork is also very water resistant, super tough and is an exceptional sound absorbing material. So look around your home for areas that one might not expect to find wood and give wood furniture, flooring or other ideas a try!
Wood and Interior Design Tip Three-Wood Instead of Drywall
The never-ending versatility of wood, in part, helps to explain its eternal charm. Another way to put wood to use in your interior design is to switch out drywall for wood paneling instead. Wood has many advantages over drywall, especially for those who are chemically sensitive or want to cultivate a rustic look.
Many people have discovered that wood can work quite well, for example, in bathrooms. Instead of tiling on walls, intrepid home and business owners are opting for wood instead and the results can be visually striking.
Of course, it is necessary to treat wood in your bathrooms with something like an acrylic finish to help combat moisture, but the results are worth the effort. If you want to make a striking statement, then wood in your bathroom provides an excellent option.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Four-Wood in the Kitchen
In recent decades, the trend has been away from materials such as wood in the kitchen. However, wood in the kitchen has been making a comeback. Wood butcher-block countertops look warm and rich. If you want a very natural look in your kitchen, then wood butcher block might be the way to go. And it’s durable and can stand up to wear and tear just as well as many other countertop materials.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Five-Using Wood for Contrast
Wood contrasts nicely with other materials. If you home is more modern, you may find that adding wood either in the form of wood furniture or other additions can work to provide a good deal of unexpected contrast. The fact that there are many different types of wood and stains available means that you can likely find the perfect fit for any room.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Six-Use Woods Colors and Textures to Your Advantage
Since wood comes from all sorts of trees, it is possible to get all kinds of looks, colors, textures and patterns. As a result, wood can be used in a virtually endless number of ways in interior design. Many homeowners and interior designers turn to wood due to its exceptional versatility. Whether you want to add more or less color or texture to a room, wood can get the job done.
Wood furniture, wood flooring and wood paneling can be mixed and matched together in an endless number of ways. The end results can range anywhere from shocking to subtle.
Wood and Interior Design Tip Seven-Cultivate a Vintage Look
No way around it, if you want to cultivate a vintage look, then wood is one of your top options. Wood is an ancient building material and as such resonates in a way that modern building materials can’t match. If you want charm, warmth, elegance and a touch of nostalgia, then it’s impossible to beat wood!
Seven Tips for Interior Design Results
By using these tips, you can easily incorporate wood into your interior design and make a big impact. Interior design should be fun, and the versatility of wood helps to provide endless fun design options. Try contrasting different types of wood against one another in your design.
Also, remember that a few well placed pieces of wood furniture can work to instantly transform almost any room. In our technological society, wood still endures. Wood has stood the test of time as a design material because it is tough, beautiful and extremely versatile. What more could anyone ask for from a building material?
April 6th, 2015
A country man himself, Sam is a perfect fit for rural living and for both his Anabaptist and mainstream subjects. Many of Sam’s photos expertly capture people forming connections with one another as well as with animals.
Sam is a visual person. As a photographer, he looks for naturally occuring things that have a special aesthetic; it’s almost as if somebody had posed them, yet you know they couldn’t have. The results of Sam’s watchfulness are dramatic.
By Tobin Dimmitt
Sam A. Malek lives in rural Pennsylvania, and he’s a photographer. This gives him perfect opportunities to photograph Amish and Mennonites living nearby.
While he uses digital equipment, Sam reveres traditional techniques. He only simulates lightroom techniques and otherwise lets photos speak for themselves.
Sam doesn’t limit himself to photographing Plains people. Visit Sam’s gallery, and you’ll find a variety of photos of scenery, animals, people in the mainstream culture, and even long exposure photos.
I suggest you give Sam A. Malek’s gallery and Twitter a visit. This one is about more than taking pictures of Amish people. Sam aims to take photos that acknowledge the depth of meaning in what he sees.
All photos copyright Sam A. Malek can be found on SamClicks.com.
April 5th, 2015
Keeping your furniture clean is important if you want your furniture to last. Poorly maintained furniture just won’t stand up to the test of time. While it is important to clean your furniture from time to time, it is also vital that you do so in a green and safe way. Many furniture cleaning options can be harmful to both people and the environment. So let’s take a look at how to get your furniture clean without all the harmful chemicals.
Now you might be thinking that dusting is pretty basic and in one way you are right, but not all dusting is created equally. Dusting furniture is a good idea. But when it is done the wrong way, dusting can actually release a lot of potentially hazardous dust into the air. The solution? If you have very dusty furniture, for example, furniture that has been in storage for years, consider dusting first with a damp cloth and then washing that cloth. Dust often contains potentially harmful compounds that settle on furniture. These compounds can range from flame retardant chemicals found in furniture to toxic compounds from electronics. This fact also underscores the importance of frequently vacuuming and dusting.
Two- Vacuum with HEPA Filter
Another prudent step is to use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Many vacuum cleaners have a range of attachments. Some vacuum cleaners earn higher marks than others for the power and effectiveness of their attachments. Two HEPA vacuum cleaner models that have highly functional attachments are Dyson and Shark. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and good attachments can work wonders for not just keeping furniture clean, but for also tackling those hard to reach spots throughout your home.
One very common mistake that people make with HEPA filter vacuums is that they forget to clean their filters. Poorly maintained vacuum filters can actually release more contamination into the air than they capture, so clean your filters often!
Three- Use Oils Rather than Furniture Polish
Furniture polish can help your furniture look great, but it can also harm your health. Many furniture polishes are really little more than low-grade chemical mixtures. Pets, children, adults and the planet as a whole can suffer from exposure to these products. The solution is to skip these products and opt for something more environmentally friendly.
A little oil can go a long way in maintaining your furniture. One of the best options is jojoba oil, but linseed oil also works very well. Adding a few drops of lemon to olive oil is another option that many people like. What furniture polish could be easier than this one? After all, most people have both lemons and olive oil in the kitchen somewhere. If you don’t, they are both inexpensive and easy to buy.
There is no reason to opt for expensive and potentially toxic furniture polishes when a simple and fast fix like lemon juice and olive oil is readily available. Not only do these mixtures work but also you can make them in only a few moments. Using this mixture is as simply as putting a little olive oil and lemon on a cloth and polishing the furniture.
Just remember to test a small area first and see how you like the results before jumping in and cleaning all of your furniture. Also different woods may respond differently to different oils. So just because one option works well for one wood that doesn’t mean it’s a great pick for all your furniture.
It is not your imagination that many furniture polish options smell simply horrible. Keep these harmful compounds out of your body by using natural polishing options. You won’t regret it!
So far we’ve focused on green cleaning options for wood furniture. The needs of wood furniture are far different than upholstered furniture. Upholstered furniture presents a unique challenge in a variety of ways. One problem is that most modern upholstered furniture is stuffed with stuffing that has been treated with dangerous flame retardant chemicals. Your best option is to phase out this kind of furniture for a safer option, such as wood, or a non-flame retardant option as soon as possible.
What About Upholstery?
With that stated, there are some important dos and don’ts where green cleaning of upholster furniture is concerned. First, many carpet cleaning services offer upholstery cleaning. Unfortunately, the majority of these services use chemicals to clean both carpets and furniture and should be avoided. A second point to consider is that by opting for a green upholstering cleaning option, you can avoid consider chemical exposure.
Vacuuming your furniture often, even weekly is a great place to start. All the pointers we’ve mentioned in this article that apply to vacuuming your wood furniture with an attachment apply to vacuuming your upholstered furniture as well. Stains can be treated with soap and water or hydrogen peroxide if they are more stubborn. A little elbow grease, patience and hydrogen peroxide will go a long way in treating stains.
These tips will help you clean your furniture is a safe and green fashion. Green cleaning methods are not just safer for you and your family, but also for your furniture as well. Over time, harsh chemicals may damage your furniture. But the mixtures and green cleaning approaches covered in this article will likely do no harm to your furniture whatsoever. If you want to save money, protect your health and help the planet all at the same time, then follow these tips!
March 28th, 2015
Congratulations if you are moving into an older home. It is important to realize that there are some major differences between moving into a newer home as compared to moving into an older home. Simply stated, the two types of homes are very different and ignoring those differences can be costly. Old homes enjoy a charm that is often missing from more modern construction and that charm is almost impossible to replicate. With that stated, it is also true that older homes can have some substantial challenges and concerns. In this article we will look at five of the most important things you should know before moving into an old home.
Old Home Factor Number One-Lead
Lead paint is no longer used, but it can be an issue for old homes. Ignoring lead paint when remodeling or moving into a home, especially if you have children, is one of the worst life decisions that a person can make. Lead is a heavy metal and it can be very dangerous, again especially for children. Lead has made its way into homes via lead paint as well as lead pipes. Under normal circumstances lead paint is the greater of the concerns.
Before moving into a new home or undertaking construction projects that involve painted areas, it is important to perform a lead test. If you discover that you do, in fact, have lead in your home, then you’ll need to consult with a reputable and proven lead expert. Simply stated, lead is no joke and any contractor to acts in a caviler manner about lead is one that you shouldn’t trust. The statement, “Lead isn’t that big of a deal,” should be a serious red flag!
Old Home Factor Number Two-Repairs
Even a well maintained old home is likely to be in the need of some repairs and some old homes need more work than others. So don’t be surprised if you encounter ongoing issues and have to keep your plumber on speed dial.
On the flipside of the coin, old homes are often enjoyed superior construction to their new home counterparts. There are several reasons behind this fact. At the top of the list is the fact that older homes are more likely to have been built using old growth wood. Old growth wood is tougher and tends to last and last.
New lumber might be just fine but it doesn’t compare to the durability of old growth wood. Old growth wood is hard to come by, and that is part of the reason that old homes are often very sought after.
Old Home Factor Number Three-Heating and Cooling
Many people who move into an older home are shocked to discover that their old home can be expensive to heat and cool. Even worse, some old homes may seem nearly impossible to cool off especially on the second floor.
There are two main reasons for this situation. The first reason is that old homes often are lacking in roof insulation, wall insulation or both. Old homes did not have modern insulation and you can really notice this when temperatures get very hot or very cold. The second factor in the old home heating and cooling problem is that many old homes don’t have the proper ductwork installed or have underpowered HVAC systems. All of these problems can be fixed, but the costs certainly can add up! It’s something to think about before you purchase an old home, especially if you live in an area that can get very hot or extremely cold.
Old Home Factor Number Four-The Roof
Old homes have seen a lot and weathered a lot. As a result, an older home’s roof might be in need of some care and attention. A roof will usually last longer than the stated lifespan, but that stated it is also common for homeowners to forgo roof repairs due to the expense. You may discover that your old home has serious roofing issues, and that can be both costly and aggravating. Finding a good roofer can be tricky, as there are lots of roofing companies and they run the quality spectrum.
Old Home Factor Number Five-Foundational Issues
Yes, old homes are great, but foundational issues are never great. If you are considering buying an old home or already own one, it is important to keep an eye on your foundation. A major foundational issue can considerably reduce your home’s value. There are many repairs that you can look the other way on but foundational issues are not on the list. A foundational issue must be addressed immediately!
So periodically check your basement and monitor any cracks or leaks. Water damage is serious damage and has to be treated as such. Water can damage foundations and leave you with a tremendous headache. The good news is that by maintaining your basement and taking preventative measures you can prevent substantial headaches in the future.
Older Homes Have an Undeniable Warmth, Charm and Appeal
Together these five tips will help you get ready to move into an old home. Older homes tend to be better constructed than their average modern counterpart and that has an array of benefits. In addition, older homes also tend to have a level of charm and sophistication and warmth that many homeowners feel is missing from modern homes.
By investing the time to keep an old home in good shape you can protect your investment for years to come. The durability of many old homes is undeniable.
March 22nd, 2015
Let’s face it. Try as you might to get outside more, you likely spend most of your time indoors. Statistics show that Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. That’s exactly why the quality of your air is so important. Unfortunately, when people select the wrong furniture, they can quickly degrade the quality of their indoor air. Once toxic fumes come into your home, they often can’t escape.
The EPA has said that indoor air quality is the fourth greatest threat in terms of pollution. It’s way more polluted, on average, than outdoor air. That’s definitely saying something! And it’s not just your furniture that is harming your air quality; it is everything from plastic items to cleaning products and dry-cleaning chemicals.
Dangers to Even the Smallest Humans
When you think about who is exposed to these toxins, it quickly becomes rather alarming. Many of these chemicals are in products that are even commonly used to create a new baby’s room. For example, crib mattresses are typically loaded with chemicals, and new paint on the wall will commonly contain chemical gases. Baby furniture can be loaded down with harmful compounds like formaldehyde. Busy expecting parents may be fixing up a cute room for their little one not even thinking about all the dangers that lurk beneath the surface.
This point underscores exactly why certifications are so necessary. They will point you in the direction of where you can buy products that are safer for you and your family.
No matter what furniture you may buy, it is offgassing. The point is to find items that aren’t synthetic and offgas hazardous chemicals. Even if your item isn’t synthetic, if it is treated with synthetic chemicals it may have the same issue.
What is the Problem with VOCs?
You probably have heard people mention VOCs before. These off gassed chemicals are linked to birth defects, cancer and issues with the endocrine system. Two commonly used VOCs that come into play with furniture are formaldehyde and flame-retardants.
Poor indoor air quality is a major concern for homeowners and building owners as well. We are lucky that some entities have emerged to promote sustainable efforts and safeguard our environment. In the process, they support families and communities as well as employees and corporations.
You may have seen GREENGUARD certification on items of furniture you’ve bought over the years. What does this mean? GREENGUARD certification is a special assurance that products mean limits for chemical emissions. The products that have been GREENGUARD certified have been screened for more than 10,000 chemicals.
When you buy these items, you do not degrade the healthy of your air quality. While this standard is on furniture, you’ll also see it used on finishes, cleaning products, building materials and even electronics.
If you go to the GREENGUARD website you can even find information about their GREENGUARD Gold Certification. This label is even more in depth and designed for sensitive individuals. For example, it is often used in healthcare facilities and schools.
SCS Global Services
Another certification that you can look for to ensure that your products support a healthy interior environment is SCS Global. This certification not only analyses furniture, furniture and building materials but also floor surfaces and floor adhesives. This company handles “third-party environmental, sustainability and food quality certification, auditing, testing and standards development.”
The SCS Indoor Advantage and SCS Indoor Advantage Gold focus primarily on office furniture. So while SCS isn’t necessarily designed as a certification for furniture in your home, it will cover that which is in your office. If you’re sitting in a brand new office chair for 8 hours a day, you just might want it to be certified.
BIFMA is the trade association for business furniture manufacturers. They publish safety standards on furniture and influence national codes. Their designation is called level® and is described as “the multi-attribute, sustainability standard and third-party certification program for the furniture industry.”
level® not only takes materials and health into account, but also energy us, and social actions of a company. You can find out more about this certification at http://www.bifma.org.
Another indoor air quality certification that has emerged is called Intertek. This organization specializes in testing furniture and measures chemicals, flammability, safety and sustainability. This organization also tests for VOC emissions to make sure that they adhere to ETL Environmental VOC requirements.
Other Air Quality Issues
Even aside from your furniture offgassing, there are yet more issues to be aware of, for example, mold growing on furniture can also be an issue. Since mold spores exist in the air, they can start to grow in moist spots. Once this begins, you can end up with a serious issue.
If you think that your home is susceptible to mold, consider using dehumidifiers. They will reduce your indoor humidity by 30-50 percent. Also try to keep the temperature in your home higher so that mold doesn’t end up as condensation. Also if you keep any furniture outside, be sure to keep it out of shady areas, as that is exactly the conditions where mold thrives.
One general rule of thumb that you can follow is to avoid pressed wood. These types of woods often contain the highest levels of volatile organic compounds. When you do buy new furniture, unpack it and let it air out outdoors.
Are you looking for more specifics about where you can find products that have been certified for air quality? You can easily find a directory of products that are GREENGUARD and ECOLOGO Certified by visiting http://productguide.ulenvironment.com/QuickSearch.aspx.
March 19th, 2015
Every year technology creates more ways for designers to get inspired. AutoCAD, SketchUp and Minecraft have been fast-tracking aesthetic design while sustainable technologies make designs more seamless in their environments. The XBox Kinect has been rendering people in 3D since 2011. However Maria Takeuchi and Frederico Phillips offer a unique perspective on using the Kinect in their project, as-phyx-i-a. A dancer creates a variety of human shapes both in movement and balance, while the Kinect interprets each one in ways that connect floating parts together. Those of you looking to play with design might want to watch the forms as-phyx-ia comes up with and see if it inspires you to add functions.
March 7th, 2015
Has that old table or couch seen better days? Do you feel as though it is time to swap out the old and bring in the new? Don’t worry everyone goes through this dilemma, and we’re here to let you know that there are many things that you can do with your old furniture. Let’s take a look at a few of your best options.
Old Wood Furniture Vs. Particleboard Options
When dealing with old furniture and what course of action is the best, the first step is to assess the furniture itself. There are, in fact, times that you will want to get rid of a piece of furniture once and for all. A great example is cheap furniture that was made with MDF or particleboard. This kind of furniture will degas for years, and that means it is harming your indoor air quality. MDF and particleboard are known for emitting harmful gases, such as formaldehyde.
MDF is essentially the lowest quality wood scraps and sawdust mixed with chemicals and glues and then fused together. Some people would even go so far as to state that you are better off with no furniture than this kind of furniture.
Sadly, the odds are excellent that if you buy your furniture from a “big box” retailer, that the furniture you buy will be MDF or a mixture of real wood and MDF. This kind of furniture doesn’t last long, doesn’t hold up well to getting wet and is constantly degassing. You should either toss such furniture into the recycling or donate it. Just remember that odd “new furniture” smell usually indicates that it is a problem.
Now old furniture that is actually made mostly or largely out of wood is a different story. Your second question in what to do with old furniture is, “can I repurpose this furniture?” Quite often a little imagination can go a long way and so does a little Internet research. A quick Internet search can give you countless ideas for what to do with an old chair. If you are a crafty creative person, looking on Pinterest might get a cool project started in the right direction!
Old Furniture, New Life
Most “furniture rescue” projects don’t take a long as you would image. A little outdoor sanding, please wear a mask, and paint or eco-friendly finish can go a very long way towards reclaiming a piece of furniture. So, if you don’t like the way a piece of furniture looks, don’t immediately give up on it! Instead try to refinish it and get it back into action.
Repurposing furniture is largely about imagination and a little motivation. An old cart can be refinished or painted and used in the garage or as a new addition to your bathroom, for example. The possibilities are, in fact, almost as endless as the different furniture items.
For example, do you have an outdoor area such as a backyard fire pit or porch? Maybe what that old chair needs is a weather resistant finish to come roaring back to life. Another idea is to take old wood crates, nail them together then nail on some wooden legs and add a glass or other solid top. This project can be done in a couple of hours, and the end result is a really innovative and interesting reclaimed table! Do you have an old door sitting in your garage or basement? Why not convert it to a table? All you need to do is add legs.
Also take a look around your home and see if you can’t discover a better place for the furniture in question. Quite often, changing the location of a piece of furniture serves to breathe new life into it.
A Clever Gift Idea
If you are looking for a novel gift, then another clever way to repurpose your old furniture is to give it to a friend. Handmade gifts that are also practical and functional are as good as gold and will always be remembered.
There Are Plenty of Ways to Get Your Old Furniture a New Home
Depending on the condition of the furniture, you might be able to sell it on Craigslist or eBay. Craigslist is often a better choice as shipping is taken out of the equation.
There are other options as well such as Freecycle, which can be used to help you find ways to give your furniture away. You could also consider simply posting a picture of the furniture that you’d like to give away on your Facebook page or in a group where you’re a member. It could be just that easy to find an enthusiastic taker.
Enter the Handyman
Worried that you can’t handle reclaiming your furniture on your own? Don’t worry, as there are good options. Find a trusted and proven handy man to do these projects for you. It might cost a little, but you’ll be left with a conversation starter and a piece of real wood furniture for the fraction of the cost of buying new wood furniture or even cheap MDF big box furniture.
Saving your old furniture from the trash heap or even the recycling pile is good for the planet. If the furniture in question is made from real wood, or largely real wood, then it is a true treasure and one that you’ll want to hang onto for years to come!
Real wood lasts and it also has a lower carbon footprint; after all, it does take a great deal of energy to grow a new tree, then cut it down, transport the wood, make it into furniture, ship it to a location and then wait for you to buy it! Making the most out of your existing furniture is definitely a better move.
February 27th, 2015
Flame retardants can make their way into both cheap and expensive furniture. Price isn’t necessarily an indicator of which furniture does or does not contain flame-retardants. Should you be concerned about flame-retardants in your furniture? In short the answer is a big, “yes!” Flame-retardants have become so ubiquitous that many people don’t even notice that they are included and that is part of the problem. Numerous studies have linked flame-retardants to a range of health problems over the years and the compounds found in flame-retardants can be particularly problematic for children. In this article we will explore why you should avoid flame retardants at all costs. When it comes to purchasing furniture, there are other options.
A Wide Array of Furniture Contains Flame Retardants
All types of furniture can contain flame-retardants. However, the most problematic items are large stuffed furniture items, such as couches and chairs. The stuffing in furniture is often laced with dangerous flame retardant chemicals. If you want to avoid these chemicals, your best option is to opt for wood furniture and then pay special attention to whether or not furniture has been filled with stuffing that contains flame-retardants. Labels such as “all-natural” might not serve as much of a guarantee that a given filling does not have flame-retardants contained within. Additionally, companies may not list whether or not a product does, in fact, have flame-retardants.
When it comes to avoiding flame-retardants in your furniture, it is up to the consumer to ask questions. That stated one of the single best moves you can make is to opt for wooden furniture made by small companies. Smaller companies are usually easier to communicate with and receive direct answers regarding their products. In part, avoiding flame-retardants comes down to being a proactive consumer. While this means a little more effort, the benefit is a much safer product for you and your family.
Are Flame Retardants Dangerous?
Can it be stated that furniture that contains flame-retardants is dangerous or even toxic? At first glance this might seem like a controversial stance. But investigative articles in the Chicago Tribune and documentaries such as Toxic Hot Seat have helped to shine a bright light on the considerable dangers found in flame retardant containing furniture. Read more about this film at http://www.toxichotseatmovie.com.
Not the Best Idea the 1970’s Had to Offer
The idea of putting flame retardants in furniture goes back to the 1970s. Yes, of course, no one wants to experience a house fire. It’s one of the most traumatic issues that a person can experience. The initial concept had good intentions: reduce fires in the home .
However, while the goal was for flame retardants in furniture to reduce home fires, what has been scientifically proven is that flame retardants in furniture provide virtually no benefit. At the same time, they expose people needlessly to toxic compounds.
So what toxic compounds are we referencing? Let’s take a closer look.
Lower IQs, Cancer and More
Flame retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers have been linked to cancer as well as lower IQs in children. In short, they are serious business and avoiding these chemicals is harder than one might imagine. Flame retardant chemical dusts makes its way throughout ones home and can accumulate in the body. In a 2012 study, it was revealed that a shocking 75% of all homes tested were fond to contain flame retardant chemicals of some sort.
PBDEs Found in Everything from Furniture and Foam to Nursing Pillows
The state of California classifies these chemicals as being cancer causing agents. Chemicals, such as TCEP and TDCIPP, were not just used in furniture, but also quite perplexingly in children’s sleepwear until they were banned. It has been found that American children have much higher levels of these toxic chemicals than children in other countries. Studies have found that there are up to 11 different flame retardant chemicals found in children. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, are found in furniture, foam, building insulation, nursing pillows, carpet padding, carpet, children’s car seats, changing table pads and electronics.
The experts are speaking and they are encouraging people to avoid furniture and other items that contain flame retardants. If you see a TB-117 tag on a piece of furniture then it meets California’s Technical Bulletin 117 and that means it contains dangerous toxic chemicals. Polyurethane foam in furniture should also be avoided as it may too contain flame retardants. TB-117 went into effect in 1975, so furniture made before that date is less likely to have flame retardants but it is still possible.
There are steps you can take to avoid flame retardant chemicals. One of the single largest steps is to opt for wooden furniture that is free of flame retardant fillings. Couches and chairs that are filled can contain large amounts of these chemicals. Simply opting for a different kind of furniture is enough to reduce your risk. Vacuuming and mopping frequently is another way to reduce your risk.
Your Best Bet is to Avoid Flame Retardant Furniture and Other Goods
Clearly the issue of flame retardants in furniture and other goods is an extremely serious one. Scientist are alarmed by how flame retardants have entered our homes. So wash your hands and the hands of your children often to reduce exposure and work to eliminate foam padding throughout your home. Flame retardants have been found to damage DNA, increase the risk of cancer, lower IQ, cause memory problems and the list goes on and on. Somehow these incredibly dangerous and harmful chemicals have found their way into furniture as well as baby and children products.
February 16th, 2015
The bottom line is that nothing beats old growth wood. There are good reasons that products made with wood from old forests are valued. Increasingly, more people are seeking out this kind of wood for their furniture and building projects. Since older forests are largely protected, this wood is recycled from other sources, such as barns that are hundreds of years old or even items like old pickle barrels.
One of the simplest reasons to select furniture and other products made out of old growth wood is that it is really tough. New growth wood has no chance of standing the test of time like old growth wood. Since it is taken from trees that are often hundreds of years old, this wood is very tough. Originating from dense forests, old trees offer the benefit of more rings per inch. It is harder and stronger. It also can stand up to issues like wood rot and insects. Not only is the wood itself harder, but also it has the added benefit of having been exposed to the air for an extended period of time.
In terms of durability, new wood has zero chance of matching up. It is no accident that an entire industry has grown up around reclaiming old growth wood from old barns, factories, schools and other structures. Old growth wood is impressive wood in more ways than one.
Today savvy homeowners are flocking to use reclaimed old-growth lumber in their homes and for their furniture. They are making this choice in part because of the durability of old growth wood.
Furniture that is Made to Last
There are other substantial benefits to selecting furniture made with old growth wood. A large percentage of modern furniture simply isn’t made to last. While it is true that real wood furniture may costs more than cheaper alternatives, it is also true that that manufactured board, or MDF furniture, is a poor imitation of real wood furniture.
MDF furniture, which is so popular with the “big box” retailers, fails to provide long term durability. Further, it is often made using harmful chemicals that degas into the environment over time.
Poor quality furniture must be replaced more frequently. In the long run, this factor makes it a poor investment and one that should be avoided at all costs. Most of the furniture on the market today is made from poor quality materials that literally fall apart, but furniture made from old growth wood is tough stuff. The financially prudent move is to opt for old growth wood furniture, which is sure to stand the test of time.
Old growth wood is denser and as a result it is more stable. This stability results in wood that is more resistant to swelling as well as shrinking.
Lower Your Carbon Footprint
A benefit that many often overlook with old growth wood is that it is eco-friendly by nature. Using old-growth wood in furniture means a lower carbon footprint, as the energy involved in growing, cutting and transporting new wood has been bypassed. If you are looking for a very eco-friendly furniture option, you’ll want to consider furniture that is not created from newly cut and harvested trees. Truly, using reclaimed wood and old growth wood is one of the ultimate forms of recycling.
A Gorgeous Appearance
As though all of these benefits are not enough, there is also the issue of beauty. Many people find that the look and feel of old growth wood is simply superior to what new wood can offer. The imperfections found in old growth wood infuse it with a charm and life that is impossible to duplicate or match. When you choose to use old growth wood in your home, whether it is flooring, furniture or another use, you will find that old growth wood’s beauty is unmatched and unrivaled.
Old growth wood furniture is, simply stated, charming. In addition to its tremendous durability, old growth wood furniture will stand the test of time. The beauty of older wood translates to furniture in a very soulful and impressive way. Many feel that there is a sort of magic quality that resides in old growth wood furniture. The imperfections, knots and character of the wood helps furniture makers bring the wood to life in the form of furniture. The end result is a functional work of art that is full of both character and life.
If you are looking for furniture that is a cut above most other offerings, then you’ll love old growth wood furniture. The cookie cutter look and feel of most modern furniture is completely absent. Old growth wood furniture has a rich and attention grabbing look that other furniture just can replicate.
When you select old growth wood products, it is important to invest the time to learn more about the wood and how it was treated and sourced. A great furniture manufacturer will not just use old growth wood, but will also be able to tell you what products were used on the wood, why, how the wood was sourced and from where.
Ultimately, old growth wood products such as old growth wood furniture are a worthwhile and savvy investment. Old growth wood products last and last, and that means that your grandchildren will enjoy it in their homes too one day. Unlike other wood products on the market today, you will use your old growth wood products not for just years, but instead for many decades.
Old growth wood furniture can be passed down to future generations and will still retain their charm and appeal. When it comes to selecting the best furniture and wood products on the market opting for old growth wood is a very smart move. The beauty, durability and character to be found in old growth wood products is unrivaled.