Furniture minus formaldehyde


When making big furniture purchases for our new house, Sweet Bean decided that it was high time to ditch Ikea and go for the gold: the hand-crafted hardwood stuff made in the U.S.A. with non-toxic finishes that do not have formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde has been “classified as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” according to the National Cancer Institute’s web site.

FYI, formaldehyde is used in the finish painted on a lot of household wood furniture. It is also used to make engineered wood like plywood, particle board and medium density fiberboard, and used in other building materials and many household products.

Yes, it’s all around us.

But its prevalence did not deter me from finding my heart’s desire: bedroom and dining room sets finished the rouge way: with natural oils minus the chemicals.

The big furniture hitters had few chemical-free options: Ethan Allen, Crate and Barrel, Macy’s.

Hubby and I searched and searched, and finally came upon the light at the end of the tunnel.

Design Within Reach, which has its fair share of items made of plastic and engineered wood, had a lovely Copeland American Modern platform king bed frame, with matching chest of drawers and side tables, all made from Rainforest Alliance Certified solid wood, which means that the wood has been grown and harvested using “environmentally and socially responsible practices.” The wood of choice for the set was a warm, honey-toned walnut, with finish that was water-based and formaldehyde-free.

Next, I set out to find a dining room table and chairs. The Amish are quite prolific—their outlets in Pennsylvania appeared chock full of all-natural, hardwood furniture options. But we wanted something more chic and modern in style.

At long last, I came across the Vermont Wood Studios online—a furniture manufacturer in Vermont that hand crafts every piece that is made to order by local artisans and craftspeople. All pieces are made using either solid cherry, maple, walnut, or oak wood. They offer a choice of finishes, 100% linseed oil or lacquer among them. All of their finishes are zero-VOC and nontoxic.

We settled on their Modern Trestle expandable table in walnut, the Ingrid walnut dining chairs, and the Modern Shaker glass-door “bookcase” that we use as a China cabinet.

When I ordered the dining set last year, the company had chic bedroom line designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which I thought was very cool. I was sad to see, when returning to their web site one year later, that the Wright line has been discontinued.

But I have never been one to subscribe to designer names. I am beyond thrilled to have chosen lifelong household pieces made of quality quality quality.