Family photo albums tell many stories—what clothes you wore in various decades, the hairstyle mistakes that now make you cringe—but often it’s the furniture that reminds us of the where and when.
Going through old pictures recently with my adult daughter, I was struck not only by the wonderful family faces, but also by the backdrop, in particular our sofas over the years. Those sofas bore witness to many changes as my children grew and treasured pets came in and out of our lives.
Sofas might be the most loved and abused pieces of furniture in our homes: spilled on by babies, toddlers and careless adults; clawed by cats and gnawed by dogs; flopped on casually by rowdy teenagers. Our couches see our kids through countless sick days and cradle us through life’s highs and lows.
The only photo I can find of me pregnant with my first child is on a stylish linen sofa (purchased with the help of an interior designer family friend) in our first house. Not so stylish is the wild floral thing my three girls are sitting on while mugging for the camera. How did I ever think that sofa was beautiful? Maybe I never did. I know my main consideration in selecting the busy print was to mask spills! It’s interesting to reflect how styles change along with various stages of our lives.
Now that I know about the importance of indoor air quality, I would never bring into my home any upholstered furniture or mattress that did not contain certified foam. From the sheer quantity of calls we receive at CertiPUR-US® offices each day, I know I’m not alone. It gives me one less thing to worry about as I recline on that white sofa with a glass of red wine.
The next time you look at your life in pictures, see if you can put your upholstered pieces in chronological order!
About the Contributor Helen Sullivan is Communications Counsel for the CertiPUR-US® program.
TREES ARE BEING BURNED, DEGRADED AND LOGGED AT ASTONISHING RATES
80%of the world's forests are already destroyed
DEFORESTATION COMES IN MANY FORMS, INCLUDING FIRES, CLEAR-CUTTING FOR AGRICULTURE, RANCHING AND DEVELOPMENT, UNSUSTAINABLE LOGGING FOR TIMBER, AND DEGRADATION DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE.
ONLY 20%of forests are properly protected
TREES PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE WATER CYCLE, GROUNDING THE WATER IN THEIR ROOTS AND RELEASING IT INTO THE ATMOSPHERE. IN THE AMAZON, MORE THAN HALF THE WATER IN THE ECOSYSTEM IS HELD WITHIN THE PLANTS. WITHOUT THE PLANTS, THE CLIMATE MAY BECOME DRYER.
70%of the world’s plants and animals live in forests and are losing their habitats to deforestation. Loss of habitat can lead to species extinction. This is not only a biodiversity tragedy but also has negative consequences for medicinal research and local populations who rely on the animals and plants in the forests for hunting and medicine.
46-58 THOUSAND square miles of forest are lost every year. That's equivalent to 36 football fields every minute
THE UNITED STATES has less than 5% of the world’s population yet consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper.
THE WORLD’S RAINFORESTS COULD COMPLETELY VANISH IN A HUNDRED YEARS AT THE CURRENT RATE OF DEFORESTATION.
50%of all plant and animal species in the world live in tropical rainforests
EVERY 2 SECONDS
man destroys an area of forest the size of a football field
if forests are destroyed through logging or burning, their carbon is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, a climate-changing greenhouse gas.
80,000 ACRES of forests disappear from the Earth every day!
THE REMOVAL OF TREES WITHOUT SUFFICIENT REFORESTATION HAS HAD ADVERSE IMPACTS ON BIO-SEQUESTRATION OF ATMOSPHERIC CARBON DIOXIDE, ALONG WITH DAMAGE TO HABITAT, BIODIVERSITY LOSS, AND ARIDITY.
300 BILLION tons of carbon are stored in the Earth's forests, which helps regulate its climate by regulating atmospheric gases, stabilizing rainfall, and protecting against desertification
121+natural remedies in the rainforest can be used as medicines
DEFORESTATION AND FOREST DEGRADATION CAN CAUSE BIODIVERSITY TO DECLINE. WHEN FOREST COVER IS REMOVED, WILDLIFE IS DEPRIVED OF HABITAT AND BECOMES MORE VULNERABLE TO HUNTING. CONSIDERING THAT ABOUT 80% OF THE WORLD'S DOCUMENTED SPECIES CAN BE FOUND IN TROPICAL RAINFORESTS, DEFORESTATION PUTS AT RISK A MAJORITY OF THE EARTH’S BIODIVERSITY.
28,000species are expected to become extinct by the next 25 years due to deforestation
MORE THAN HALF OF THE WORLD'S TIMBER AND 72% OF PAPER IS CONSUMED BY 22% OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION (THE UNITED STATES, EUROPE, AND JAPAN). WORLDWIDE, INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES CONSUME OVER TWELVE TIMES MORE WOOD PRODUCTS PER PERSON THAN NON-INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES.
20% OF CURRENT GREENHOUSE GASTropical forest destruction accounts for about 20 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions
REMOVING TREES DEPRIVES THE FOREST OF PORTIONS OF ITS CANOPY, WHICH BLOCKS THE SUN’S RAYS DURING THE DAY AND HOLDS IN HEAT AT NIGHT. THIS DISRUPTION LEADS TO MORE EXTREME TEMPERATURES SWINGS THAT CAN BE HARMFUL TO PLANTS AND ANIMALS.
4/10 TREES get chopped down and are processed into pulp for making paper products such as tissue paper, toothpaste, magazines and more...
WITHOUT TREE ROOTS TO ANCHOR THE SOIL AND WITH INCREASED EXPOSURE TO SUN, THE SOIL CAN DRY OUT, LEADING TO PROBLEMS LIKE INCREASED FLOODING AND INABILITY TO FARM. THE WWF STATES THAT A THIRD OF THE WORLD’S ARABLE LAND HAS BEEN LOST TO DEFORESTATION SINCE 1960. CASH CROPS PLANTED AFTER CLEAR CUTTING OR BURNING — LIKE SOY, COFFEE, AND PALM OIL — CAN ACTUALLY EXACERBATE SOIL EROSION BECAUSE THEIR ROOTS CANNOT HOLD ONTO THE SOIL THE WAY TREES’ CAN.
15%of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation
HEALTHY FORESTS HELP ABSORB GREENHOUSE GASSES AND CARBON EMISSIONS THAT ARE CAUSED BY HUMAN CIVILIZATION AND CONTRIBUTE TO GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE. WITHOUT TREES, MORE CARBON AND GREENHOUSE GASSES ENTER THE ATMOSPHERE. TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, TREES ACTUALLY BECOME CARBON SOURCES WHEN THEY ARE CUT, BURNED, OR OTHERWISE REMOVED.
700 POUNDS of paper are used by the average US citizen every year
The textile industry uses lots of chemicals to turn coarse fibers into the soft, lustrous, smooth, colorful fabrics we demand. Think of turning organic apples into applesauce: if you added Red Dye #2, preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers and other chemicals to the mix, the final product would not be organic applesauce. The same thing happens in textile manufacturing: organic fibers are washed, sized, desized, bleached, dyed, treated with detergents, optical brighteners, biocides, wetting agents, lubricants, sequestering agents, stabilizers, emulsifiers, complexing agents …and more. The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Buyers Guide for 2007 lists over 2000 chemicals used in textile manufacturing – many of which are known to bioaccumulate, persist in our environment and are associated with a host of human health issues, such as infertility, autoimmune diseases, cancers, nervous system disorders and many others1.
It takes from 10% to 100% of the weight of the fabric in chemical additives to produce the fabric to cover an average sofa2. And since one average size sofa uses about 25 yards of fabric, which weights about 1 lb. per yard on average, then the total weight of the fabric to cover a sofa would be 25 lbs., so from 2.5 to 25 pounds of chemicals were used to produce the fabric.
And the finished fabric, advertised as being made from 100% cotton, is actually made of 73% cotton fibers and 27% "other", such as, for example:
Studies are being published that specifically link diseases to chemicals found in textiles.4
The fabrics we live with contain chemicals which have been proven to affect us in many ways, from subtle to profound: in terms of infertility, asthma, nervous disorders (ranging from depression and anxiety to brain tumors), immune system suppression and genetic alteration. And the industry pollutes our groundwater by dumping untreated effluent into our waterways, where it circulates around the globe.
Is that a reason to want safe fabrics?
1See, for example:
Color makes a huge impact. We've had the pleasure of making many pieces bright and bold, including the ones in the above photos. We have a huge selection of fabrics at Blawnox Upholstery to add some color to your home or business. Apartment Therapy has some great color ideas on their latest Shopping Guide to Bright Beautiful Seating. Check it out, come visit us with your favorite color inspiration, and we can help you find the right material to update your special pieces to make your own colorful impact.
Upholstery is always in style. It is a craft that prizes comfort and quality above trendiness. It is a specific and unique skill that takes years to come close to perfecting, if that’s even possible. Our experienced professionals, some pictured below, bring their talents every day to make the highest quality upholstery jobs in the area. Their skills can extend the life of high quality, long-lasting furniture for a wide range of clientele. Upholstery harkens back to the days when furniture was expected to last for decades. This was before the availability of pieces for hundreds of dollars or less. But those pieces only last a few years at best. You can spend only a little bit more (or even less in some cases) to refresh your style on your timeless piece. That classic piece that you bought new, bought antique, found in an alley, or inherited from family can live for decades with the right care and the right upholstery. In these days of fast, cheap, and trendy, upholstery might not be on the forefront of most peoples’ minds, but it should be.
What do you do when you purchase a new home, but you cannot find the perfect couch? Online searches, numerous trips to stores and inquiries all around have left you with inferior choices. Your living room is a special size, and you need a special sofa.
Our clients had been on that fruitless search and decided to create their own unique sofa. They wanted an extra-wide super-comfortable chaise lounge to bookend one side of the sofa. They were able to design the couch with our guidance and experience to address their needs every step of the way.
With their input, we made a sketch, seen below. We used the very durable, very cleanable Crypton fabric in their color of choice. They were able to choose their foam and test out the cushions before we completed the others. They chose spring-down cushions which last longer and are very comfortable. As with all of our pieces, we used 8-way hand-tied coil-springs to provide even support and comfort. The process resulted in a great-looking piece that will last a lifetime.
You have the option to design your own fantastic piece with us. You can be proud that it is the ultimate bespoke furniture, made in the USA and in your community. Contact us to discuss your one-of-a-kind idea for your one-of-a-kind piece!
Racing stripes are a growing trend in fashion and home decorating, and upholstery is a great way to add this classic and fun look to your home or office. Find inspiration on the track from speedsters like Herbie, the Love Bug, and classic Porsche 911’s. Style writer Patricia Sheridan touted the vertical stripe treatment in her recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Here are some examples from the track and fashion to spark your creativity.
Blawnox Upholstery has been adding racing stripes to some fantastic pieces for years. A singular vertical line can add a sleek subtle or bold touch to a traditional sofa or chair, or it can compliment and highlight the lines of a more contemporary piece. It’s a perfect way to add a personal touch, as you can see below in a few of the pieces we have made. We can help you create your own signature fabric using solid colors, solids with patterns, or even mixed patterned fabrics. Play with color, play with texture, and race your way to your favorite piece of furniture.
Great article on Crewel Fabric. Below are more samples of Crewel upholstery not featured in the article.
There are many reasons to use different fabrics on the same piece. You like the contrast and updated look it brings to your piece, or you simply don't have enough of your favorite fabric. Unfortunately that was the case with these two club chairs. The clients wanted matching club chairs, but there just wasn't enough of there unique fabric for both pieces. We helped them find a complimentary fabric and create a unique look.