How many chairs and sofas are put to the curb in the name of worn, outdated, or stained fabric? Well, I am faced with this dilemma. What to do with my family room couches who have been through the civil war. Every day is a new game and different sides. After five years of abuse, the fabric just threw in the towel and said both sides win.
I could not blame the fabric. How was cotton chintz with its soft touch ever able to battle the child demons who thought nothing of it to take cushions and use them as swords in all out combat sessions? I swear I could hear my fabric wince every time an incoming pair of feet thought my couch was a launch pad or end zone for nameless games.
After five years, the cording started to rip, then the cushion fabric tore in half, and finally the pillows asked to be retired. All my chintz kept saying is it signed on for comfort and looks. No one mentioned durability in its contract. I can say that the chintz did hold to its contract for comfort.
Many of you are thinking who would use chintz with children? Better yet four boys. Even worse, add their friends. Ask my prior decorator who obviously could not imagine what boys could do.
Fast forward two more years later, I am still looking for eco-friendly durable fabric that matches my rug. I went back and forth whether I should slip cover the couches and put them in the basement or reupholster them. They are very comfortable couches. I have a real issue giving up items. Ask my sister. She had to go through my closet because I could not bear to give up my 80’s Joan Collins’ suits.
Here is the problem in a nutshell. To reupholster a couch of my size (84 inches) it would cost about $1000.00 and the fabrics ranges from $60-$100 a yard for a couch. Each of my couches needs 15 yards of fabric. So, when you do the math, reupholstering can be really expensive.
So, what are my alternatives? I can buy a new Lee’s couch, which incorporates their NaturalLEE standards, for the same money. (See my article about Lee). I could slip cover the couches, but my new decorator said I would dislike that look over time since my house is so traditional. Should I throw them in the basement with a slip cover?
Here is another issue. (Why not, I kind of enjoy making my life more complicated than it needs to be.) My old couches could possibly have the evil PBDE flame retardants since the couches are 7 years old. So, not only would I need new fabric, I would want to replace the cushions and other foam with natural latex.
Some of you might be fine with foam that contains the newer EPA approved flame retardants, but I am a little skeptical. Call me crazy, overly conservative, a little zealot, okay a little off the wall, but I am just not crazy about flame retardants since I question their effects on our health. PCBs were removed from the market place, and the PBDE used for foam (penta) was voluntarily withdrawn from the market due to health concerns. (Visit Environmental Working Group’s regarding their articles about health concerns regarding PBDEs.)
Given the past track record, how do we know ten years from now the effects of the present EPA approved flame retardants? With chemicals, how can you be sure of the long term effects? I just don’t want to hear ten years from now, that the new flame retardants are in my kids’ bodies causing some sort of havoc.
Is there a better way to make cushions fire retardants without chemicals? Is using wool around the cushions an acceptable flame retardant? In my article about Furnature, who manufacturers furniture for health minded and chemically sensitive people, the company indicated that it adds wool to their cushions in order to comply with
Regarding natural latex versus foam cushions, everyone has opinions. Some people don’t care about the flame retardants. Others won’t use foam because it is petroleum based. Some people don’t have an opinion one way or the other about foam. However, you can request that cushions be made partially out of soy-based BIOH™ Polyols developed by Cargill, which reduces the amount of petroleum based products used in the foam. This product is touted as being better for the environment. Lee is using this product in their cushions.
I am afraid to ask how much natural latex and additional wool batting will increase the price of the re-upholstering. On top of that I would like to use organic cotton to be wrapped around the cushions rather than Dacron, which is a synthetic product. I can just hear it the cash register now.
How about the glues used? Will I have to supply the upholstery company with water based glues? I guess I will have to learn another industry unless one of you can direct me to a green re-upholsterer in
Now the granddaddy of all issues is fabric. You all are thinking, with thousands of fabric books, I can’t find fabric? I warned you that I can be a little over the top in my quest. Isn’t there one in every crowd?
Here are my parameters for fabric:
Must be eco-friendly, which includes low impact dyes organic fabric, obtained GOTS certification (which takes in account certain standards from growing the material to the manufacturing of the product.)
Very durable (for upholstery)
And match my current rug.
Yes, a tall order for all my home décor friends.
I am so lost at this point. All the fabric that I know just does not work with my situation. Either, the fabric is not meant for medium upholstery, the patterns are not traditional or there is wool in the fabric, which I am very sensitive to. I am still hunting and will be posting an article about my eco-friendly fabric finds!
Some of you are saying what about hemp? This is what I thought too even though I had reservations of its look for my family room. I sat on a couch with hemp at ABC Carpet and Home and found it to be scratchy. Perhaps this is how it was finished?
I have gone so far as to adding my name to the HGTV’s casting calls for their design programs thinking their designers can fix my situation. Of course, I get, “apply again; we are not casting right now.” Not living in LA or Chicago limits what shows you can be on.
So, what would you do, readers? How have you dealt with this situation? Reupholster, slipcover, or give away to charity? I swear, some days I get myself in such a green tisy, that it can just be so exhausting…I am just going to lay down on my ratty couches. Before, I go lay down, don’t forget to stay tuned for my upcoming post on eco-friendly fabrics…