RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—If the kitchen is the heart of your home, maybe the living room is the soul. It’s the place to entertain guests, watch TV, listen to music, or just hang out and relax. With so much going on, it’s well worth the time and effort to make your living room a healthy environment. Here are some suggestions:
The Color. The living room is a gathering space, so it makes good sense to cover the walls with calming colors. Consider browns (security), oranges (fun and joy), and greens (rejuvenating) to create a welcoming atmosphere. Just be sure to pick low- or no-VOC paints. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, can waft from certain paints and pollute your indoor air. Safer paints for your air include Benjamin Moore’s Aura or Eco Spec lines, Sherwin-Williams Duration Home Interior Latex paint, Pure Performance from Pittsburgh Paints, or the all-natural Real Milk Paint.
The Couch. Most couches you’ll find at furniture stores are coated with harmful chemicals like brominated flame retardants. You can get your hands on ecofreindly couches with safe flame retardant properties (wool is naturally flame retardant, for example), but they often costs a minimum of $2,000. If you don’t have that much spare cash, look to IKEA couches and loveseats for a safe, cheaper alternative. You could also consider a natural-fiber slipcover, so you don’t have to have skin-to-surface contact with your couch.
Other Furniture. Entertainment centers and end tables are usually found in living rooms, and if you take a minute to look at yours, you might find that it looks like wood, but actually is made of particleboard. This type of construction often uses formaldehyde-containing glues. Since formaldehyde is a carcinogen, it’s a good idea to find low- or no-VOC sealant (AFM brand sealers are a good choice) to keep the toxins inside the furniture. You can also hunt for used furniture, which may have already released its toxins, at an antique store.