It’s officially spring! Flowers are blooming in the Seattle area, seasonal allergy sufferers are doubling down on antihistamines, and there are still “Open House” signs popping up on our quiet streets. Yes, it’s house-buying season. Whether you’re in the process of a major move or not, you might be looking into a substantial furniture purchase in the coming months. And guess what? Spring is the perfect time to breathe some new life into your home - especially if you’re spending more time there than ever before.
Sourcing a whole house of furniture, or even just a room, can cause extreme anxiety. Yes, everyone wants our homes to look great, but how do we source furniture responsibly so we’re not harming the environment? Do we throw out everything we own and start fresh? Force that couch that doesn’t quite fit into the new living room because it’s “good enough for now”? Or, should we reject the current model and lease all of our furnishings? Wilk Design Workshop believes that being a considerate consumer is our responsibility these days and understanding how furniture purchases can affect the environment is the first step. Here are some useful tips that we use every day in our practice to ensure we’re part of the solution and not the problem.
Do your Research
Online shopping has placed goods at our fingertips. Sofas arrive on our doorsteps within days from overseas manufacturers for half the price you might pay locally.. But do you know where the wood from that sofa comes from? Or how the textiles are processed to reduce emissions? If at all?
The supply chain can be long and murky and asking questions may help reveal if toxins (hint-hint, formaldehyde) are hiding in that walnut veneer console table. The EPA passed an act in 2016 limiting emissions in composite wood furniture imported into the US. When furniture with dangerous chemicals heats up just a few degrees in the summer, it can release these toxins into the air you breathe. Make sure your purchases are TSCA Title VI compliant. Or better yet, buy real wood! Solid wood furniture lasts and isn’t injected with adhesives that will offgas for the next 10 years into your home. Yuck.
Amazing Japanese sculpture piece we found for a client at Susan Wheeler's incredible shop. Seattle locals, go and get lost in her world!
Granmillenials are a thing for sure, but not every antique furniture purchase has to be covered in chintz or ornate woodworking. Sourcing antiques is a great way to bring character into your home. We love creating a mix of old and new pieces in our projects because it immediately warms up a space and injects personality. Hunt down a few local shops or spend a Saturday morning at a few estate sales. If something can be repurposed, reupholstered, or painted, do it.
For online sources, we love 1stdibs, Amsterdam Modern, and Chairish. Don’t be afraid to barter online with sellers - if the offer is respectable we’ve found that people are usually happy to see their piece go to a good home.
Plan fast, buy slow
We’ve all been tempted by the flash furniture sale- “Won’t last! Buy now!” But purchasing before planning can lead you down a dark alley with no way out. Ok, so it’s not quite that dramatic, but don’t pigeonhole yourself into a corner forced to work around an oversized green sectional you purchased for 50% off because it was a floor model. (And yes, we’ve all done it.)
Put together a plan first. If you’re not ready to hire a professional quite yet, look into services like Modsy or Havenly which can help you find the proper scale for pieces. Then map out which pieces to invest in now and what can wait.. In the big scheme of things, waiting for that perfect piece to fill your long narrow living room will be worth the wait. Trust me: You won’t regret it.
So, are you ready to take a step towards being a more conscious consumer? Even if you don’t really give a damn, let your neighbors think you do when they see you carrying a vintage chair through the front door. It might just change the way they shop too!
P.S. - Vintage rugs are a great baby step into the world of antiques. See how we incorporated some into our Minimalist Builder project here.