Consider Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality When Adding New Wood Furniture

Integrating different wood species in one’s home is on the rise and it is not at all a new concept. Wood mixing has actually been done for centuries.

Matching wood furniture sets are a thing from the past. They make a room look calculated and uninteresting. Today mixing of different wood species makes a room more appealing and natural when achieved in a stylish manner.

Before purchasing new or used furniture always consider your home’s indoor air quality.  It is, therefore, essential when purchasing wood furniture that you invest in solid wood furniture that is made with sustainable materials and with little or no toxic finishes.

Bookcases, desks, dressers and other wood furniture may appear to look like solid wood, but are often made from particleboard, plywood or medium-density fiber boards (MDF) all of these materials off-gas formaldehyde. According to the EPA, this colorless strange-smelling gas can cause eye, nose and throat irritations, and coughing, fatigue, skin rashes, and allergic reactions.  It also has been revealed to cause cancer in animals and is classified as a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

Invest in only sustainable furniture with little or no toxic finishes. Solid wood furniture is made to last and does not need to be replaced with in a few years. It is typically more expensive than pressed wood, because it is made of higher-quality materials.

When considering purchasing a new piece of furniture, check carefully to make sure it is actually solid wood. Wood elements should be FSC certified from well-managed forests.  Many manufactures save on production by constructing the front from solid wood and the back, side, shelves and drawer bottoms from particleboard or plywood. The finish on solid wood furniture also must be taken into account. Look for furniture with low-VOC water-based or waxed finishes.  If your furniture has a standard finish, air it out before bringing it inside and be sure to ventilate the room.

Other excellent options for healthy and sustainable wood furniture are antiques and secondhand furniture. In the past, furniture was usually made from solid wood. Purchasing secondhand furniture made with pressed wood products is safer than buying new, because formaldehyde off-gassing decreases as furniture pieces age.

Making your home comfortable, healthy, sustainable and beautiful takes a commitment.  In order to make your home’s indoor air quality healthy, you must carefully consider the content of every finish, piece of furniture and other items you place in it. The benefits from this commitment are numerous and can only be truly understood by living in a home that provides you with improved health, productivity and peace of mind.

We would like to help you with your next interior design project. We have numerous years of experience and can guide you through the project process and assist in keeping the big picture in focus.  Lynn Hoffman Design offers a comprehensive range of Sustainable Interior Design and Consulting Services by the project or hourly basis in Connecticut, New York and areas beyond.  Contact us at 203-984-4695 or

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