A Green Interior – Beauty isn’t everything – your health is !

by Melissa Wittig.

As a designer I see so many beautiful things but as I learn more about the impact of materials and finishes on human health and the environment I am learning to appreciate the beauty in simple things. Finding simple pieces unscathed by chemicals is a challenge, but when they are found they are worthy of adoration and enjoyment.

As we all try to make our homes air tight and insulated to conserve energy and help the environment we need to be aware that we are more exposed to the build up of indoor contaminants. Indoor air quality is a major health concern readily but quietly documented by national organisations. Construction materials, paints, stains, fabrics, carpets, furniture, foams, heating, household products etc all contribute VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) into our household air. Toxicity varies with the product and unfortunately we do not have sufficient labelling laws in Australia that inform consumers as to the chemicals used in the manufacturing process of materials.

The process of chemicals leaching from products and materials is called off gassing. Documented detrimental health effects from various indoor pollutants range from respiratory illnesses, allergic reactions, asthma, skin conditions and cancers.

Designers create spaces, encompassing all that is in a space, spaces comprising of materials that can impact on the air quality of occupants. Since learning about the potential hazards of product and materials I have developed a passion for creating healthy homes. As a specifier of product I felt I would not be able to sleep at night if I were to specify or decorate a home with product that could make my clients and their children ill – no matter how beautiful. Beauty isn’t everything!

Given that children are smaller their bodies can not metabolise chemical exposure as well as adults, they also breathe more rapidly than adults and therefore particularly vulnerable to vapours. At a time where the environment is at the forefront of community concern there is some good news. What is good for the environment is good for us. Furnishing with natural products protects nature and helps improve our indoor air quality. That doesn’t mean you have to live like a hippy or decorate with all beige and off white products. There are companies out there with a conscience going to great lengths to source responsible materials and produce healthier indoor products.

A green interior is about making healthier choices with the products and materials you use in your home when building, renovating or updating decor. In doing so, you can reduce your risk of allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities, particularly in your children. A green interior is simply about creating a healthier indoor environment.

Sifting through material product specifications for product options that are low VOC is time consuming but worth it. Relish Designs is always collecting data on healthy product and can help you source product that looks fabulous, makes your space uniquely yours while creating a healthy zone for your family. A home is a place where you live but it should also be a place where you thrive.

A home leaves an impression on our minds, hearts and health.