Archive for Decorating

Easy, Organic Bed and Bath

Kids naturally gravitate to softness and warmth, whether its a snuggly blanket or a soft landing spot. For its practicality and affordability, cotton is a great fiber for everything from bedding to towels. But toxic finishes labeled as “easy care,” “permanent press,” “wrinkle-free” or “no iron” have an unhealthy side. As the NY Times reports, the resin that makes textiles “wrinkle free” releases formaldehyde, a toxin linked to contact dermatitis and other adverse health effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer considers formaldehyde a known human carcinogen.

What’s more, conventionally-grown cotton is one of the most pesticide-intensive crops on the planet. “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 84 million pounds of pesticides were applied” in addition to “two billion pounds of fertilizers…on the same fields. Seven of the 15 pesticides commonly used on cotton in the United States are listed as ‘possible,’ ‘likely,’ ‘probable’ or ‘known’ human carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency” reports the National Wildlife FederationThankfully, there are easy ways to switch to healthier options.

The solution? Cotton without the “easy care” finishes, and if possible, made with organic cotton. If it sounds expensive, it’s time to take a look at some super affordable options!

For Baby – A baby’s layette is a great place to start, with organics increasingly available at big box stores (BuyBuy Baby, etc). In support of locally-owned, brick-and-mortar stores, there’s GreenDepot and the beautiful Hudson Street Organic Baby & Kids, the first organic baby store in northern NJ. LifeKind is an easy, go-to online resource with both practical and hard-to-find items, especially for those with chemical sensitivities.

For the whole familyGaiam jersey cotton sheets withstand just about anything kids can dish out. They last year after year, hold their color and are naturally wrinkle resistant (without the formaldehyde finish in “no iron” cotton sheets). For organic woven cotton sheets, Threshold brand (at Target) are economical and wear well. Like Gaiam sheets, they’re available in a range of colors and patterns. For something more luxe, Coyuchi, West Elm and Pottery Barn’s organic cotton options deliver.

For the bath – Organic cotton towels and shower curtains from LifeKind, Coyuchi, Pottery Barn and Viva Terra make decorating the bath easy. Some sites offer coupons for first-time orders, seasonal clearances, as well as regular discounts to email subscribers.

Organic cotton is an easy way to bring warmth to a space without toxic pesticides and finishes, making all our communities a little healthier.

Creating Calm with Color

If home is where the heart is, it’s also where stress can harbor.  There are simple elements – many low-cost – that can do wonders for the sense of calm we crave at home, and color is a key player.

A specific hue can energize us, remind us of a happy memory of a beach or vacation spot, or go in the other direction and add to a sense of stress or chaos.  WebMD has some great ideas on how to match colors with a room’s purpose, maximizing “color psychology” to bring a sense of calm, comfort or productivity.  The ancient Chinese practice of fung shui can also be used to bring tranquility to a space, including the colors incorporated in a room’s design.

A color consult is free at most paint stores, though it’s best to go during off-peak times for better service. Different stores have varying levels of expertise, so checking out a few can be a first step to finding a good fit and narrowing down the myriad of hues available. For an accredited professional who will come to your home, see the  International Association of Color Consultants North America for a listing.

For The Healthy Home Project, I chose calming neutrals for common spaces, the master bedroom and home office. Neutrals provide a soothing backdrop for furnishings that can change with trends or seasons, saving time when I want to change things up down the road.  The rooms are arranged using basic feng shui principles, including plants and plenty of light to bring a sense of growth. I let the kids choose their own room colors, which are energizing and playful. They appreciated having ownership in the process, and it just might add some momentum to keeping their fun spaces clean.