Shut­ters and blinds re­duce home al­ler­gens

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Leanne Brownoff

DEAR Leanne: What are the best win­dow cov­er­ings for re­duc­ing al­ler­gens in my home? We have re­moved the car­pets and re­placed them with hard­wood and stone tile, but are not sure about the drapes. I know there are dif­fer­ent types of blinds. Are some eas­ier to clean? Our biggest con­cern is al­ler­gens.

AN­SWER:: In­dus­tries across the globe have taken up the chal­lenge to be greener in all as­pects of prod­uct devel­op­ment. This means not only do you and I get the ben­e­fits in our im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment, but these new prod­ucts are also be­ing cre­ated from a greener world per­spec­tive.

For your de­sign ques­tion, you have an im­me­di­ate need to cover your win­dows to re­duce heat trans­fer in colder times, pro­tect your decor from in­tense ul­tra­vi­o­let rays in the sum­mer, and the need for pri­vacy.

Drap­ery fab­ric does of­fer ad­van­tages to your room, in that the fab­ric sur­face ab­sorbs sound and re­duces the echo ef­fect as­so­ci­ated with hard sur­faces. There is also fab­ric’s ther­mal fac­tor, mean­ing it can help keep a room warmer in win­ter and cooler in sum­mer. Of course, this varies with the type of fabrics and the drap­ery de­sign.

Fab­ric draperies trap and re­lease dust, pollen and other al­ler­gens. Weekly vac­u­um­ing re­duces the threat to air pu­rity, as does se­lect­ing fabrics that can be washed in wa­ter, as op­posed to chem­i­cal clean­ing. (Many pro­fes­sional clean­ers now of­fer en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly clean­ing op­tions.)

Other win­dow cov­er­ings that would be con­sid­ered low-main­te­nance while re­duc­ing the al­ler­gens would be blinds or shut­ters made from wood, metal or vinyl. Soft blinds may be an op­tion for you, as they are made from fab­ric that can be eas­ily vac­u­umed; how­ever, hard sur­faces tend to be pop­u­lar.

When dust or pollen lands on these sur­faces, it’s eas­ily re­moved with a damp cloth, as there are no fi­bres to get embed­ded and trapped in. Sev­eral styles work with any decor. Nat­u­ral grasses such as bam­boo are pop­u­lar for a ca­sual or glob­ally in­spired space.

Sim­ple mini-blinds are avail­able in a huge ar­ray of colours and widths. From a main­te­nance per­spec­tive, the greater the sur­face area, the eas­ier it is to clean. This means that a wider slat will take less time to dust than sev­eral nar­row slats.

Shut­ters are an­other de­sign op­tion. They can be com­fort­able in an old English li­brary, or open­ing out to a breath­tak­ing ocean view.

When you make your se­lec­tion, in­quire about the stain and fin­ish used.

For ex­tremely sen­si­tive in­di­vid­u­als, not only are the dust, pollen and dan­der a con­cern, but also the gases prod­ucts emit. For in­stance, hard­wood floors have an easy-to-clean sur­face, but some peo­ple are highly sen­si­tive to the smell emit­ted from the var­nishes used. Al­though the prod­uct is dry to the touch, the sur­face gives off VOCs (volatile or­ganic com­pounds) for months af­ter in­stal­la­tion.

For­tu­nately, new fed­eral reg­u­la­tions have been im­posed due to pub­lic de­mand for low-VOC paints and fin­ishes. We still have a way to go.

If you have the op­tion of fin­ish­ing nat­u­ral wood your­self, check the fol­low­ing lead­ing com­pa­nies for ecofriendly fin­ishes: Nat­u­ral paints: Real Milk Paint Co. (28 shades) www. realmilk­

Old Fash­ioned Milk Paint Co. (20 shades) www.milk­

Tim­berSoy (12 shades) www.tim­ Low-VOC paints: Ben­jamin Moore Aura (144 shades), Natura Zero-VOC (four shades) www. ben­jam­in­

Cloverdale-Hori­zon (50 shades) www. cloverdale­

Sher­win Wil­liams-Du­ra­tion Home Har­mony (50 shades) www.sher­winwil­

Sico — Cash­mere, Chamois and Shan­tung (four shades)

C2 Paint — LoVo (300 shades) www. c2­

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