This is our sofa.
We inherited it from my husband’s old roommates when the house members disbanded to pursue their separate paths in 2009. I was there when they picked it out, at a Salvation Army thrift shop near 25th and Valencia. A purple sectional with a built-in acrylic coffee table and boombox had also been in the running. I’m glad they chose this one instead. It is comfortable and wide and I have fallen asleep on it more times than I’d like to admit.
Recently, however, our sofa has been looking a bit tired. Or, to rephrase, we have started to get a bit tired of looking at our sofa. Same goes for the rest of our living room furniture. Finishing grad school was like waking from a dream; I looked up from my computer screen to find we were living amongst a bunch of ugly, broken furniture.
But what is the optimum layout for the room? How to choose pieces that fit with our overall aesthetic as well as that of the house? These are all pressing questions (please feel free to weigh in). My first step, however, has been to explore: How to buy furniture without flame retardants?
Increasingly, research has indicated that flame retardants (added to an alarming number of children’s products and furniture) are implicated in a host of adverse outcomes, including reduced fertility, birth defects, and cancer.
How to tell if your furniture contains these harmful chemicals? Read the label. If it states that the item complies with California Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117) and / or contains polyurethane foam, it almost certainly does. Our sofa did.
The good news, is that–largely due to the efforts of chemist Arlene Blum (who sounds like an amazing woman–more on her another time), California has changed its policy. As of January, 2014, furniture manufacturers are no longer required to use flame retardants. The chemicals are not banned; but, as of January, 2015, manufacturers are required to indicate the presence of flame retardants on their label.
Their sofas, however, all seem wildly expensive. The cheapest I could find clocked in just under $2,000.
According to the Environmental Working Group, many mainstream manufacturers (such as Ikea, Crate and Barrel, and Room & Board) are making the switch; just be sure to check the label to ensure that your sofa isn’t a 2014 model and is flame retardant free.
In the mean time, the Green Science Policy Institute recommends reducing the threat of harm from flame retardants by reducing dust (where the chemicals tend to congregate) by vacuuming with a HEPA filter, washing hands frequently, and using a wet mop.
My husband, on the other hand, has decided he wants to make our own sofa (my mother-in-law made hers, in the ’70s). Are we crazy? How did you select your sofa?