Affordable Non-Toxic Furniture for a Healthy Home

rocircleRochelle Serna is the beautiful face behind Because Babies. She has quickly become a good friend of mine, and is someone I chat with almost daily. We share a lot of the same passions, especially that of clean living and having a healthy home, oh and cute babies of course!

It seems like Rochelle and I are always talking about hormones or detox, but my favorites are the surprise video text messages of her son Vincenzo blowing kisses. He is really the cutest little guy in the entire world.

The other day I sent Rochelle a photo of Bill laying on our new guest bed from Ikea. I said how much I loved it, but mentioned something about off-gassing. Rochelle wrote back and said, “Ikea has the highest emission restrictions in the WORLD! I love Ikea!” This made me so happy, because we love Ikea too! They really have come a long way with their furniture, and we have a lot of pieces from Ikea in our house. Many of you followed along with our kitchen renovation that we did in early 2014, and we actually renovated the entire kitchen with Ikea, and we absolutely love it! We’ve also gotten compliments on our “Pottery Barn bookcase”, to which I said, “that’s actually from Ikea.”

Ikea Hemnes Day Bed White

When I posted about the new bed frame, and the information Rochelle passed along on my Instagram, it got a lot of comments and questions from all of you! My favorite question was from a mom-to-be, who is due in March. She said all of the non-toxic furniture for nurseries was too expensive, but she was able to splurge on a crib and mattress (best items to put the money toward for sure!), and wondered if Ikea would be a good option to furnish the rest of the nursery. Helping a new mom is just the best feeling! I thought this would be the perfect time to bring Rochelle over to our blog to tell all of you everything she knows! She’s done all of the research, so better to hear it from her, than me! I’m so happy she was able to contribute her knowledge to our website today!

Rochelle is a fantastic source of information for women looking to conceive, pregnant mamas to be, or new moms. Really all of the above! If you do not follow her on social media already, you absolutely must! She also has created a fantastic fertility detox program, which we have linked to at the bottom of this post! Hope you enjoy!





What do you think about when you hear the word detox?

A green drink? An specific diet? An air purifier? All of these methods help to pull toxins from your body and environment, but if you’re living in a house full of toxic products, “detoxing” is a bit like swimming upstream.

interior design of classic room in beige and white colors with couch table and a vase of roses, copy space on top half

Hidden Household Toxins

I remember learning about toxic off-gassing like it was yesterday. I was sitting in bed one night reading about flame retardant chemicals in mattresses. I was so disgusted that I had decided to sleep on the floor…until I read the next chapter about the dangers of carpeting.

That was a big night for me! I learned about formaldehyde in glues, VOC’s in paint, and why press-board products were far from healthy. I looked around the room assessing each piece of furniture. I was surrounded!

I spent the next 2 hours Googling “non-toxic furniture” only to be led to sites boasting beautiful, sustainable, well-made, expensive low-emission furniture. Did I mention I was in a dorm room?! Refurnishing was out of the question!

My all-or-nothing mind was spinning. I couldn’t unlearn what I knew and I was on a mission to better my surroundings.

Years {and tons of research} later I am here to save you from that moment of helplessness that pours over when toxic change seems daunting.

But before I get into the big stuff, I want to mention that small changes can make a huge difference. Removing your shoes at the door, placing a filter on your shower-head, and avoiding buying plastic anything are three of the easiest ways to keep toxins from entering your home.


The Nitty-Gritty

When it comes to furniture there are four main off-gassing culprits: base material, filler, glue, and paint/stain/lacquer.

Harmful base materials are usually easy to identify. You’ll want to avoid plastic, artificial fabrics, MDF, press board, particle board, and plywood {the last four of which are created using a combination of leftover wood shreds or planks and {usually} toxic glue}.

Fillers, glues, and paints are more sneaky.

Padded furniture is likely stuffed with polyurethane foam or artificial fibers and doused with flame-retardant chemicals. Most industrial glues contain formaldehyde, which is a known human carcinogen. Others are made with at least a few volatile organic compound {VOC}-producing chemicals. Unfortunately the same goes for paint, stains, and lacquers. Even though the sale of VOC containing finishes are regulated in some states, the regulations don’t apply to pre-painted products coming into said states.

You may be familiar with press board and plywood, they’re used a lot to make reasonably-priced furniture. I just want to mention that it’s not the wood itself that’s the problem, it’s the fact that it requires industrial glue to become a stable surface. America’s loose chemical restrictions mean bringing a press board product into the home could offer up a hefty dose of carcinogens right under your nose.


Your Options for Non-Toxic Furniture

Before you look around in terror, note that old furniture has already done most it’s off-gassing. For years I turned to Craigslist and hand-me-downs for my minimal furnishing necessitates. It was both healthier and affordable.

There are also some wonderful companies that make real wood products with water-based non-toxic glues and finishes. I’m mostly aware of the baby geared companies like Baby Eco Trends, Ouef, Pacific Rim {whole family}, Stokke, and BabyLetto, but I’m sure there are others geared toward the grown ups, too! Even within these brands there are some imperfections, so be sure to read the details thoroughly before purchasing. They can be quite the investment!

The reality of this really hit home when I began furnishing my son’s nursery. As a budget conscious mama I knew there had to be a way to find high quality, low-emission furniture without breaking the bank. After some digging I noticed that Europe had far stricter standards on formaldehyde and VOC off-gassing emissions than the U.S. Initially this didn’t solve my problem since shipping across the world only added to the cost. If only there was a European company that built to European standards but sold in the U.S…

Oh but there is… IKEA!!

When I was growing up IKEA wasn’t exactly known for quality, and I’ll admit that these aren’t the types of pieces intended to last a lifetime. BUT they’ve come a long way in durability and style, in my opinion! The best part, of course, is that they meet the strictest emission standards in the world.

Why? Because they make furniture for countries that uphold those strict standards, and ship the identical product out to every store {unless a certain chemical is required in a certain country, like flame retardants in the United States. Palm to forehead}

According to their 2014 Sustainability Report:

“We always avoid chemicals that could harm people and the environment. Our aim is to select materials, surface treatments and production techniques with the lowest possible emissions. As a minimum, we comply with the strictest laws and regulations in every country where we make and sell products. When one country tightens it’s rules, we introduce these new requirements in all IKEA markets, if applicable.

During FY14, we started to implement the IKEA Chemical Strategy. We know that customers, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders want to know more about the chemicals we use. Therefore the main focus of our work has been to develop a more efficient way of capturing and assessing data about the chemical content of our products. With access to more information, we can improve our chemical risk assessments and be faster to phase out potentially harmful substances.

We have also encouraged the European Commission (EC) to develop a comprehensive policy on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) for all EU states, which takes into account their potential to harm people and wildlife.”

They’ve been working to eliminate toxic chemicals for the last decade.

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As of January 2015 {when California finally made a crucial change to their flame retardant law–recommending but not requiring flame retardants} IKEA stopped adding flame retardants to most, if not all of their padded furniture {couches, pillows, fabric chairs, etc.} I’ve seen the tags myself. They say “DOES NOT CONTAIN FLAME RETARDANTS” and they’re beautiful! :]

They also pride themselves on sustainability and community, which always makes me happy.

Picture 1

Are they perfect? No. Are they better than most? Absolutely!


Some things to Consider when Shopping IKEA

  • They carry low-emission, not no-emission products
  • Unfinished furniture will have less off-gassing than painted items {you can always finish it yourself with zero-VOC paint!}
  • Although free from flame retardant chemicals, the couch padding may still contain unwanted/synthetic material
  • ALWAYS read material specifications


To living in a healthier home,

Picture 3




Rochelle is kicking off a group in the new year for her fertility preparation detox, which she calls “The Rose Method.”


Here’s more on the program from Rochelle herself:
The Rose Method has been in my heart & mind for years & seeing it come to life has been truly incredible. It’s a 16 week protocol that focuses on gentle detox, baby-building nutrition, & mama mindfulness. It’s meant to help prepare the body, home & mind for baby.

When you enroll in the program, you receive weekly emails with guidelines, action steps, & relevant articles. You also get “weekly resource sheets” that dive deep into that weeks work.

The group detox kicks off on January 4th, with registration closing on December 18th! (in one week)


Learn more and join the group below.

Join the Detox group

(affiliate link)


If you enjoyed Rochelle’s post, here are a few others on Primal Palate you might like!


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Detox Tools

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