Searching for Green Furniture

Our new bedMy dreams of a new bed have finally been fulfilled.  We were a bit overwhelmed by the array of bed choices out there, not to mention the price tags.  I must confess, I ruled out all the ultra-natural beds immediately because they are super expensive and there’s no place to try them out in town.  I feel a little bad about that decision but… only a little.  I’ve been dreaming of a super comfortable bed for months and some how all those descriptions of natural wool stuffing or organic rubber foam just don’t sound as nice as a standard bouncy mattress and boxspring set.

So we checked out a few different bed stores, lying on each bed for five minutes as recommended by Consumer Reports.  We found a very nice Serta mattress set at Comfort Solutions but the $950 price tag was just too much to swallow.  In the end, we purchased a less fancy Serta bed from Sam’s Club, scoring low points for both environmental friendliness and social responsibility.  Sorry, folks.  I haven’t shopped at a Walmart in almost ten years but we do go to Sam’s Club from time to time and the bed seemed like the best option out there.  We plan to sleep on this bed for years to come so I feel the overall time-lapse impact is fairly minimal.

It’s really hard to furnish a home in an eco-friendly way.  As Andy lamented, it seems like the choice is between ultra-expensive natural home furnishings or ultra-cheap crap from box stores.  We have had a fair amount of luck with used furniture.  Our couches and endtables came from the local furniture rental store American Rental.  Our kitchen cart and a couple of lamps came from Goodwill.  Our previous bed was a dumpster dive find.

our living roomBut most of our furniture is hand-me-downs from friends and family.  Two dressers, a credenza, a kitchen table, a night stand, five bookshelves, a rug, and I’m sure a few other things have made their way into our homes from the homes of our support network.  It’s a little hard to plan for their appearance but it is comforting to me to walk around the house and have each piece of furniture tell me a story and remind me of an old friend.

The trick to our style of home furnishing is to be flexible and patient.  Sure, we’ll go out and buy something new from the local box store if we really need it, but most of the time we stick with the objects that drift into our life at the right time and enjoy the hunt of checking out Goodwill and garage sales and listings on Craigslist.  So far, so good and if it’s not truly eco-chic, at least we’re keeping usable items out of the local landfill. this!

6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Student Doctor Green said,

    August 14, 2008 @ 11:24 pm

    Yay for someone else that has gone to the dark side of Sam’s Club. And about the natural mattresses, it’s crazy. I was talking with a furniture salesman and he was saying one of them goes for $1500 and it’s a TWIN! Plus he said it was about as hard as the examination table you sit on at the doc’s. No way!

  2. 2

    Linnea said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 3:20 am

    As icky as it sounds, I prefer used mattresses. At least then they’ve had a good chance to offgass. I just try to get them from familiar sources…

    Just looking at these two photos: do you have more lighting? A few great fixtures can go a long way, and good lighting really helps achieve a ‘finished’ look.

  3. 3

    Andy said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 8:11 am

    The bed I just bought was a bit of a splurge, but I figured for something I used 1/3 of my life it should be. I looked at some natural mattresses (latex instead of springs) and I liked them, but the bottom of the line was $1000 and not terribly comfortable, and the next thing up was $2600. That gap was just too much for recent graduates! I ended up with a King Coil from one of the few mattress stores here, and luckily they had a floor model deal on the one we really liked. $800 for a mattress and box spring, instead of $1500 for the full bed. I can always get a frame later, and there’s some really good ones around here.

    I justified the lack of greenness on the bed because the price was just so much more than I could deal with now. I do plan on buying natural wool pillows (which I believe are NOT coated with fire retardants) that are $42 each. Putting my head on a pillow covered in neurotoxins is something I can pay a bit more to avoid!

    The other “green” furniture in town is really poor quality furniture, wrapped in organic cloths, and is very expensive (think $2000 for a couch). An imported furniture store has some great couches for the same price, that look like they would last forever (wonderful fabrics) but are $2000-$4000. Is it worth the money to get something that would last for a long time? I guess I need to figure out how long I expect to use it for, and how much that price comes to per month, and then figure it out.

  4. 4

    Maggie said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 9:00 am

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one struggling to find a good bed! I have slept on used mattresses since college and they really are okay but I really wanted something with more support and figured a new bed would be my best bet. Probably do need to upgrade the pillows, though.

    Linnea – the pictures are not great quality (I am not as talented or dedicated a photographer as Will is) and we haven’t installed all our lights yet but we’ll probably still need more. I would LOVE to have you come out and do some consulting for us. Perhaps I can get Will to take enough pictures to give you a reasonable virtual tour. One of the challenges about the older part of the house (the bedrooms and the front room with the couches) is that there are no built in overhead lights and no light switches tied to outlets so whatever we put in has to be turned on at the light. I’m thinking about investigating some touch lamps that would be fairly easy to stumble into in the dark.

  5. 5

    Linnea said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

    Natural wool doesn’t need fire retardants, generally speaking. It’s a self-extinguishing fiber, which makes it really great for things like carpeting and mattresses (which offgas the most). Especially good if you like having candles around, or smoke inside (ugh).

    Maggie, I’ve been too busy to plug in the measurements you gave me, but I’ll be able to do some next week. Then I can render some ideas for you, and lay out some lighting/furniture plans. Most important: keep your bulbs consistent. If you’re using a warm white CFL in one fixture, use them in all of your fixtures. It makes a big difference in the way you perceive color and space.

  6. 6

    Annoying Nathan about cars | said,

    September 19, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

    […] it’s nice to be able to haul stuff around too, like when we got our new mattress. That cost us about $30 but would have been more like $50 if the Sam’s Club had been further […]

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