A built-in bench keeps backpacks and accessories organized. Custom pieces are pricey but they can be created to exclude toxic compounds like formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that’s often used as an adhesive in composite products. Mom of three Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Our Toxic Exposures and founder of the business Practical Nontoxic Living, recommends researching glues and varnishes used in any pressed wood or veneered products before buying. Choose natural finishes like linseed oil or beeswax or water-based stains and urethanes.
Stop dirt at the door by laying out a mat for shoes. Eco-decorating expert Robin Wilson, author of Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle, suggests easy-to-clean tile or stone for high-traffic areas like mudrooms and foyers.
Good to Know: Get Certified!
Third-party testing provides extra peace of mind for asthma and allergy sufferers or families with other sensitivities. Gushée looks for the Greenguard Gold Certification mark—it means something has met stringent chemical emission standards based on criteria set by public health agencies. If you’re concerned about the ethical sourcing of woods, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has you covered. FSC-certified options are sourced from responsibly managed forests.