The Ultimate in Green Design: Antiques

There is a peaceful presence in a room with classically designed furniture, especially those with the patina of age.  No matter how you express your personal style, every home has space for antique pieces:  a writing desk in the corner, reclaimed barnwood on the floor, or a wing chair handed down through generations.  There is an added beauty to the natural grace of aged furniture:  they are the ultimate in “green.”

All Wood Comes From Trees: And trees come from forests.  Yet lovingly cared for antique wooden furniture was cut from old-growth forests long ago.  No new resources are used in its construction, making its restoration and re-use a loving part of caring for the earth.

No Chemical Fumes Arrive with the Furniture: Your home’s interior should be a place of fresh air and health.  Yet any new piece of furniture, cabinetry, flooring or finished wood may have strong chemical odors.  Off-gassing is the process of releasing the vapors that are the residue of many fine finishes.  Antiques were created long ago, with less toxic products, and any off-gassing has long been complete.

No Negative Environmental Impact is Created: Beyond the health issues in your own home are the costs to the planet.  Manufacturing plants, even the very greenest, distribute impurities into our air, waste systems and water.  New furniture requires the production of finishes, dyes and sealants; shipping them demands the creation of packing materials; they arrive in retail stores via large fossil-fuel burning vehicles.

Antique Pieces Bring Unique Craftsmanship to a Room: Even in a contemporary home or modern space, the gentle lines of antique furniture can add a special eye-catching detail to the design.  Rather than a mass-produced item, what you buy and bring home was likely made in a small workshop by a craftsman who made good use of few resources.

Antiques are Recycling at its Best: The sofa your grandmother loved, the barrister bookcase you find at the auction, the softly faded colors of the old Turkish rug don’t belong in a landfill.  The treasures from another time can be loved and used again.  And again.  And again.

Antiques Have Stood the Test of Time: These classic pieces are sturdy and well-made; they wouldn’t still be here if they weren’t.  The quality of their wood is usually stronger, created from timber with tighter growth rings, making repair a simple task when necessary. Furniture that is unworthy of a craftsman’s repair time often ends up in the landfill, adding to our cycle of wasteful consumption.

Antiques Add Beauty and Joy to Life: There is a thrill when you spot the perfect ship’s model, campaign chest or weathervane.  You feel an immediate connection to the beautiful collectible candlestick or Chinese export porcelain.  When you place it in your home, among other well-loved and cherished pieces, you can feel good about your purchase, your home, and reducing your footprint on the surface of the earth.

Remember, It’s Not All Furniture: You can find antique cabinetry, flooring, doors, beams, posts, mantels and other architectural details.  Have fun, and happy hunting!

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