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EcoNesting: Green Comfort Zone

EcoNesting: Green Comfort Zone

Some people have comfort food, I have comfort furniture and in my endless search for chic green interior design, I never thought I would find my comfort zone in a junk shop.

The day I discovered my love of modern vintage design was the day my husband dragged me into a local antique shop in search of old solid wood tools. He’s got that “they just don’t make them like they used to” mentality about many things, especially old hand tools. As I fended off the dust, I glanced over at a chair that was in seriously bad shape, but this chair looked just like one I had grown up with in the 60s–the iconic Eames lounge chair. It was even winking at me.

Like my old chair it had one missing button on the back cushion, and when I was a kid I was sure that meant the chair was beckoning me to come and sink into its soft buttery leather cushions. I was sold. That began my quest for “comfort design” and my foray into the world of mid-century or retro modern design.

I’ve been on this journey for a while now and have unearthed some real finds in antique shops, junk shops, tag, garage, yard and barn sales, flea markets, thrift shops, eBay, Craigslist, the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores, Freecycle, my mom’s friends’ basements and on a Web site that I just can’t keep my cursor away from. Probably my favorite online site for “window shopping,” learning about modern vintage antiques and finding out if my latest garage sale find is a prize is www.1stdibs.com. Their motto is, “Do the planet a favor, buy antique and vintage design.”

Why is buying vintage or used furniture “green”? We know that whatever we reuse that doesn’t end up dumped into landfills is doing our planet a big favor. Buying in local antique and second-hand shops boosts the local economy and cuts down on fuel and shipping costs. There is little environmental impact from vintage furniture as long as it wasn’t recently repainted, refinished or is moldy. No further resources are used to manufacture used furniture, which makes it a viable green alternative to buying new furniture. Reduced, reused, reclaimed and recovered–a very “green” statement to describe why buying vintage is the way to go.

Here’s the bonus that I really love: The thrill of the hunt. You start digging through these shops and sales, and sometimes you hit the jackpot and find a vintage piece that is highly collectible like my Eames chair. I recently found a petite Danish bentwood chair in a shop for pennies. I unscrewed the metal legs and found a tag. I know that intact tags are a good sign. Generally, it makes the antique more valuable. What I didn’t know and later researched online, was a chair exactly like my chair recently went to auction and fetched hundreds. Investment pieces are out there to be found.

The eclectic mix of vintage furniture that now adorns my home fits in very nicely with my intention to green my interior environment. This melange of furniture hugs my family and my planet, and feels like good design to me. Green, comfortable and fun–do you need any more reason to get in the zone and start hunting?

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.

Read more: Crafts & Design, EcoNesting, Green Home Decor, , ,

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Ronnie Citron-Fink

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer, editor and educator. She has written hundreds of articles about sustainable living, the environment, design, and family life for websites, books and magazines. Ronnie is the creator of Econesting, and the managing editor of Moms Clean Air Force. Ronnie was named one of the Top Ten Living Green Experts by Yahoo. Ronnie lives in New York with her family.

10 comments

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6:14AM PDT on Jul 17, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:50AM PDT on Jun 10, 2011

Only just started konteyner reading "the long tail" book after hearing it mentioned in a BBC documentary, but kabin pretty much covers alot of factors relating to how things have shifted over past prefabrik villa decade. when I started out was alot harder to do stuff, but now can be done in half the time which film indir allows for the development creativity aspects...

7:56AM PST on Jan 21, 2011

Some of the newer furniture off-gases (depending what artificial product and chemicals it is made with). Not a problem with most old furniture.

7:15AM PDT on May 25, 2010

This is a great idea, thanks

9:33PM PDT on May 14, 2010

You are soooo right Ronnie. I love old furniture as well. Love your article, thanks for sharing it with us.

12:13AM PDT on Jun 19, 2009

thanks...
Kabin
Konteyner,Prefabrik
mega kabin
Konteyner

7:32AM PDT on Sep 12, 2008

It's wonderful that more and more people are now discovering the joys of finding hidden treasures in the discarded bin. My dad was an avid "saler" who set off every saturday morning on a hunt for art, antiques and other collectables. Some of his finds were so significant he wound up selling them through Christie's and making a tidy profit. Being green today includes the recognition that there are way too many items out there that are only at the beginning of their useful lives. Like they used to say in New England "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"

4:52PM PDT on Sep 9, 2008

Thanks, Lisa. PURE looks like a green and stylish furniture company. I recently replaced a dog-chewed couch with a new one and found some beautiful green choices. Two furniture companies that are easily assessable are Lee Industries and Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams Furniture. Lee has a natural furniture line “http://www.naturallee.com/OEI.asp”. Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams have an eco-statement on their website here. I also looked at Greener Lifestyles Sustainable Furniture, Vivavi Modern Green Furniture and Furnishings and Furnature. These companies are devoted to both the environment and chic home design. Some are more budget-friendly than others. You might want to check out a green list that Domino magazine and treehugger.com compiled that includes furniture, upholstery fabric, rugs and wallcoverings from manufacturers that meet a specific set of green criteria.

3:11PM PDT on Sep 8, 2008

Fun article! I love scavenging the flea markets, garage sales, and craigslist, too, for used products. However, there are some items I like new, some of them being furniture. This furniture company called PURE meets both the good design criteria as well as being environmentally friendly home design. The design tends to be modern and fresh as well as made of environmentally-friendly materials such as a natural latex rubber core, non-toxic adhesives and finishes, and FSC-certified hardwood frames. If you know of other similar furniture manufacturers, I'd be interested in knowing about them. Thanks.

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