Why design a healthy living room? Well, the living room of your home is just that….where you live.
It’s the oasis at the end of the day, the place where family and friends relax and have fun together. It’s the central gathering place!
Today’s modern living spaces offer comfortable furniture, firplaces, and books as well as flat-screen TVs, sound systems, and video games. Some also have home office equipment and other high tech gadgetry.
A growing awareness of creating healthy homes in general has shined the light on this very important room for homeowners. Since the living room is the central place of a variety of functions in the home, it is the space that a variety of healthy, green building principles are important to consider.
Design issues about indoor air quality, building materials, décor items, furniture, textiles, electromagnetic fields (EMF) found in computers, TVs and other electrical equipment, pest control, heating and air systems, and much more should be evaluated.
Healthy Living Room Basics
Here is a basic overview of healthy design basics for your living room that can be applied whether you’re building a new home, completely remodeling your existing living room or simply want to make it a bit more green and healthy.
Air Ventilation and Filtration
In order to have healthy indoor air quality, your living room must have proper ventilation and circulation. Concerns about moisture control are also impacted by your decisions here.
A good exchange of air throughout the space is essential. In some cases, it may also be necessary to include a good air filtration system. These can either be portable or whole house systems, depending on need and overall house design.
Indoor air quality is the number one design issue that all others can effect, so it’s important to place this as the top priority.
Heating and Air System
Obviously, whatever system you use to heat and cool your entire house will usually be what is used for the same application in your living room. Some of the more common applications include electric heat pumps, natural gas systems, wood burning stoves and fireplaces, and oil furnaces.
Most healthy house experts agree that heating and air systems powered by electricity are the safest for human use, although not always the cheapest. You will have to weigh your health concerns against your budget when choosing the right system for your living space.
Interior Building Materials
Unfortunately, much of indoor pollution comes from common materials used to build and finish interior spaces.
- Wall coverings such as dry wall, paneling or solid wood are commonly used in today’s homes.
- Flooring such as carpet, laminate, solid wood, vinyl, ceramic, slate, marble and other products are often used.
- Finishing products like spackling compound for dry wall, as well as paints and stains also have an impact on your indoor environment.
Many of these products have varying amounts of volitale organic compounds (VOCs) that emit levels of toxins into the living room. Some de-gas relatively quickly and others can continue to pollute the indoor space for years. Some are inert, giving off no harmful odors.
One of the best ways to deal with these problems is to use green building materials that are no VOC or low VOC.
Choosing the right type of furniture made from healthy products such as natural textiles and formaldehyde free products can impact your healthy house.
Couches, recliners, end tables, lamps, entertainment centers, and other necessary pieces of furniture can add a level of toxicity to your indoor living space.
Knowing how to select the best furnishings is important. One rule of thumb is to always choose solid wood products. Also, textiles should be natural products that do not have flame retardant, spill resistant chemicals added to their finish.
Of course, many people prefer to have some of these perks when buying furniture, but the good news is that in some case, you can lessen the chemical toxicity of many products by deep cleaning and sealing.
There are some nontoxic products that can deep clean and seal many types of furniture, making them safer for your family’s use. One leading company that offers great products for this purpose is AFM Safecoat.
We all love a beautifully decorated living room that provides a homey, comfortable, inviting feel. However, there are many products that are not very healthy, especially for those who have asthma, allergies or other environmental health problems.
Scented candles, plug in fragrances, potpourri and other scents can actually be hazardous to your health.
Pictures and other décor items should pass the “smell” test before introducing them into your living room. By the time you add up the many décor items, you’d be surprised at how much they can affect your indoor air quality.
Modern dwellers typically have at least one TV in the house…and usually it is in the living room. Many also have a computer station (unless in a separate home office) in the living space.
Other common gadgetry include sounds systems, video games, wireless systems and whatever else the electronic market can produce to tantalize kids and adults alike!
While these are fun and have their place in our lives, there is a growing concern about the effects of electromagnetic fields on our brains and bodies.
It’s wise to know how to strategically place and use all of these home products in order to minimize or eliminate associated health problems.
Pest Control and Cleaning Products
As in any other room, you probably will be dealing with pest issues and will definitely be cleaning your living room! Choosing nontoxic pest control and green cleaning products are a must in maintaining a safe, healthy home environment.
These products are generally made without the most harmful chemicals that are often found in common brands of pesticides and cleaners.
The interest in living green has spawned a whole new market for these products that make it easy to find what you need.
And if you’re especially handy, you may choose to make your own from natural sources that actually work and don’t cost a fortune!
A Healthy Living Room is Worth the Effort!
As you get started in your new home construction, remodeling project or basic living room green remediation, be sure to keep these basic principles in mind.
It is worth the effort in creating a better home, based on nontoxic, natural and green living standards. Your healthy living room will truly become your family’s oasis of support and rejuvenation for healthier bodies, minds and relationships!