So you love your interior. But is it loving you back? Or is your beautiful haven of sanctuary really a simmering toxic terrain?
Sadly, there’s something in the air, and it ain't just love. The Global Wellness Summit reports that we’re heading for an ‘indoor air pollution super-crisis’, that is having devastating affects on our health. From common complaints such as eczema and asthma, wrinkles and premature ageing, to more serious conditions such as lung disease and cancer, research is showing our indoor air quality is fives times more of a concern that outdoor environmental pollution. Doesn’t sound very hygge so far…
We may consider pollution to be an outdoors issue. But as we return home this winter to light the fire, put our feet up on the polished coffee table and burn a fragranced candle, we may be ignorant to the toxic cocktail of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are likely to be cocooning us more snugly than that new faux fur throw on the sofa. Everyday products such as household cleaning detergents, laundry softeners and air ‘fresheners’ are brimming with VOCs, whilst ozone (emitted from electrical equipment such as printers), nitrogen dioxide (produced by cooking appliances and boilers) and even formaldehyde (found in fabrics, furniture and varnishes) are also likely to be lurking in your home.
According to research we spend an average of 80% of our time at home. And most homes are now double-glazed and insulated, trapping in the pollutants. So how can you tell if your home toxins are out of control, and what can you do to redress the equilibrium? One option is to reach for an expensive bit of kit, such as a HEPA air purifier, but there are other options out there… and many are more visually attractive, cost-effective, and, umm, well, green!
Enter the humble houseplant. And good news for anyone who is lacking the touch of green fingers, some of these beauties are easy to keep! This variegated snake plant (aka mother-in-law’s tongue) is a desert native so doesn't need much attentive watering, and it can convert toxins to oxygen - guzzling formaldehyde, filtering xylene (found in paint and tobacco smoke), beating benzine (plastics, furniture waxes, and detergents) and tackling trichloroethylene (printing inks and nail varnish).
The peace lily, loving a shady spot that’s generally not too cold, can do all the above, plus attack ammonia - you're impressed, right? Other home-purifying heroes include the humble chrysanthemum, devil’s ivy, the Boston fern, and the flamingo and turf lilies, the list goes on. Perfect for when you've just decorated and that fresh-paint smell is reminding you of the toxins now circulating around your house. This ‘green’ approach is actually endorsed by NASA, who have been observing the effects of house plants in removing indoor chemicals for generations.
Great news for your health - but what more can you do to improve the quality of your interior?
With a little thought next time you’re doing the usual householder thing, from the supermarket shop to buying new bedding or dropping off the dry-cleaning, take time to consider the simple switches you could make to embrace a home detox and restore a positive quality to your internal environment. Opting for solvent-free paints, environmentally-friendly cleaning and laundry products, and soy or beeswax candles are a great start. Avoid fabrics treated with stain-retardants (sorry mid century furniture, but you are guilty of this one crime), and garments/duvets that need dry-cleaning (a VOC nightmare). And throw open your windows as often as possible, but especially when cooking, cleaning and decorating, to allow concentrated clouds of toxins to disperse.
Want our three top recommendations for household products, from paint to polish? At Vamp. interior design we are nothing if not passionate about refreshing and restoring our internal environment, and you can be too. So water your pot plant once in a while, light your beeswax candle, and fragrance your home with flowers and fresh air. And lagom indeed when it comes to restoring the sheen on your Ercol sideboard - unless you’re using your new eco furniture polish of course!
Top tip 1. Pot plants - peace lilies, boston ferns, mother in law’s tongue and chrysanthemums score best, but anything green and living is going to help!
Top tip 2. Household products - brands such as Method, Ecover and bio-D get our vote.
Top tip 3. Eco paints - check out Edward Bulmer and Earthborn natural paints, the colours are scrummy too.
Vamp. interior design
Refurbish, rework, restore [your internal environment]