Recreate Comfort

Secrets to Better Furniture




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A new year can prompt us to refresh the look and feel of our home. Eco-minded individuals may wish to spruce up a treasured piece of furniture or find a replacement that’s light on environmental impact.

• Consider wood furniture made from sustainably harvested forests and tree farms or reclaimed wood. Find explanations of Forest Stewardship Council certification requirements at US.FSC.org.

• Choose vintage and secondhand furniture to extend its life with a bonus of nostalgia. Avoid painted furniture from the early to mid-20th century, which may contain lead, or use a paint-testing kit.

• Look for furniture with organic substances such as natural wood finishes, naturally tanned leather or organic cotton. Look for Greenguard product certification to ensure low toxicity.

Some businesses, like Upholstery on Broadway, in Arlington, Massachusetts, conduct money-saving classes for people that want to learn to repair or restore their own furniture. Owner Kevin Kennedy finds, “People bring in their own projects, often wing chairs and side chairs, along with stray pieces of materials. As long as they have ‘good bones’ [solid wood frames], new fabric can add many years.” For those afraid of making mistakes in cutting fabric, “We help them measure carefully first, and that relieves their anxiety.” A carpenter’s rule is to measure twice, cut once.

• Get creative. Treehugger.com cites Pentatonic, a furniture line made from 100 percent recycled materials, including glass, plastics and metals, for easy assembly without tools. Standardized components deliver efficient manufacturing and shipping; each part has an identification number with the manufacturer’s date and location, and the type of waste used in production.

• In replacing furniture, make sure the old piece gets reused, as well. Sell it via CraigsList.org, eBay.com, local classifieds or a yard sale; donate through Freecycle.org or a local thrift store; or just give it away.


This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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