How Safe Is Your Home?

June, 2011  
In This Issue
How Safe Is Your Home?
Wild for Wicker!
Embellishments Wins #3 Spot in Best Of . . .
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Dear Jane-Marie,
portraitHello Summer!  Let me try that again.  HELLO SUMMER!!!!  Where are you????  What with the weather and the recent article about cancer-causing agents in home products, it's enough to make you want to stay in bed.  Hopefully, this month's newsletter will get you out of bed and feeling a bit more upbeat.  Read on for my 2 cents regarding strides the home market has made toward providing safer products.  I may not be able to do anything about the weather, but helping you make a safe home is definitely more important!  

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Embellishments Design Studio is available to speak at your group's next function.  Contact me for more information!
Carcinogenic Chemicals in Home Products

A recent article in the Washington Post calls out new substances that have been added to the list of "known human carcinogen" or "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen".  From reading the article, one would be concerned about the following chemicals showing up in their home decor:

  • Formaldehyde and styrene (noted as being used in items such as carpet backing) 
  • O-Ntrotoluene (noted as being used to make dyes for wool, cotton, silk and leather)  

The good news is that reputable carpet manufacturers do NOT use formaldehyde or styrene in their backing (you should check with your manufacturer to be sure).  The carpet industry is one of the most advanced when it comes to eco-friendly products and many industries are using them as a guide when changing their own practices.   


I recently installed a gorgeous wool carpet which had a backing made out of polypropylene.  According to the manufacturer, "Polypropylene is used as a primary backing and sometimes as a secondary backing in carpet manufacturing.  It is also a petroleum-based by-product and is so safe that it is commonly used as air filters, bandages, and protective netting in hospitals."  Other safe backings consist of Synthetic Latex, which possesses NONE of the health risks associated with Natural Rubber Latex.


One area to be cautious of in terms of formaldehyde emissions is in purchasing MDF board furniture.  Currently, the US limits formaldehyde emissions from MDF to 0.3ppm.  This is 3 times the level accepted by Germany and Sweden, for example.  As you can see from this article, the US has been slow to address this concern.  Hopefully, the fact that formaldehyde is now listed as a known carcinogen may help change the limits to more acceptable ones.  When purchasing online or from lower quality vendors, definitely ask if the goods are made with adhesives that use formaldehyde (and if they don't know, don't buy!).    

Regarding, O-Nitrotoluene, exposure is more of a concern at the manufacturing level rather than for the end-user.  It is used primarly in the production of Magenta dye and Azo dye (used primarily for apparel fabrics).  We researched a recently selected cotton print for a client and discovered that it does not in fact use Azo dyes.  It's good to know that the workers who are producing this fabric are not being exposed to a harmful chemical.  For certain toxic dyes that are still in production, although limited, the risk to the end user is nil - they have been found to be totally safe when on the fiber in its final state.


I am not a chemist, of course.  However, I do have a keen interest in ensuring the health and welfare of my clients.  If you ever have a question about a product being sourced by me or one you have found yourself, please don't hesitate to ask.  

P.S.  Read Marilyn Marchione's response to the original article for an interesting perspective - and tell me what you think on my Facebook page!
Wild for Wicker!

Maybe it's because the weather has been so lousy, but I am craving a glass of lemonade on a porch like you can't believe (probably because I haven't been able to do it yet!).  And what better seating to use for this type of occasion than wicker.  Wicker and Rattan are everywhere!  They have come inside after years of being relegated to the outdoors or the 3-season porch.  You'll find them in everything from black and white to weathered and colored.  The new McGuire Rattan collection has me absolutely drooling . . .  



 Wicker lighting from Jeffan . . .

 wicker pendant


  And in this fun, blue writing desk from Maine Cottage . . .

blue desk

These pieces pack enough punch to withstand the elements in the comfort of your home all year long.  So purge the idea of wicker and rattan being a seasonal material,

if you keep in mind a few key design tips:    
  • Use wicker & rattan pieces sparingly - one or two key pieces per room is ideal - you don't want your entire house to scream Tommy Bahama and tiki hut.
  • High quality wicker & rattan furniture will be made with a smoother finish and the pieces will be comfortable to sit on (they will feel like a regular arm chair) from an ergonomic standpoint and because of the type of cushion they come with.  Think Pier 1 - beginning price point and lower quality, a bit harder seat and a rougher look.  The McGuire pieces above - high quality, have a shinier finish and use very comfortable cushions.
  • Use colored pieces sparingly.  If you want to do the desk above, consider pairing it with a white rattan chair (rather than a blue one) for a very fresh and mod look.  It won't tire out so fast. 
  • If you're decorating any living space other than a porch, DON'T DO matching sets - chair, loveseat, end table, coffee table - all in wicker.  This makes the room seem too seasonal.  For 4-season rooms, you'll use them more if you choose a loveseat or sofa in rattan and combine it with a set of upholstered arm chairs, like you see here . . .   

armchairrattan sofaarmchair 

Embellishments Design Studio - Voted as One of the 2011 Top Three Best Interior Designers for Southwest Metro Magazine!
Best of Southwest Metro 2011





Thank you to my wonderful clients who voted for me in the 2011 Best Of Southwest Metro competition this spring!  Embellishments Design Studio made it into the top three!  I have absolutely wonderful, caring and fun clients and I enjoy every minute working on your projects.  Every problem has a solution and I truly enjoy finding solutions for you!   

Thanks for the support!


Embellishments Design Studio provides interior decorating, space planning and color consultations, as well as custom window treatment designs and staging services so that you can transform the house you live in into the home you love!

Embellishments Design Studio is available to speak at your group's next function.  Contact me for more information!

Jane-Marie Bloomberg
Embellishments Design Studio