The ultimate detox for your home
posed to. With thoughtful planning, it is possible to increase the air quality inside without spending much extra money.
To clear the air of VOCs, the easiest and cheapest way is to start with the materials that are in your home. Substitute any man-made building materials for natural ones, such as timber, clay and stone, and choose furniture treated with natural finishes such as oil and beeswax. If you want to use MDF and particle board products, check that they are free from formaldehyde, which is generally considered the most harmful VOC. It is worth checking the provenance before buying: many wood composites and plasterboards, if manufactured in the EU, are likely to be already certified.
Shopping for healthy soft furnishings can be tricky because newly-made items often release chemicals from their foam and glue. Older, secondhand purchases, which have already released their chemicals elsewhere over the years, are an inexpensive alternative. Fashionable options for VOCfree flooring include polished concrete, which has the additional benefit of not harbouring dust. You can also opt for carpets woven from bamboo or wool, with no synthetic glue underneath.
Olga Turner, the founder of architecture company Ekkist, has adapted her own Seventies home in Surrey to be as toxin and allergen-free as possible by using natural wood sealants, fabrics and paints, and growing plants that purify the air.
“For us, architecture and design for well-being is a science,” says Turner. “It is about understanding how every aspect of a building’s design or interior can be used to benefit the health and well-being of its occupants.” She has used timber finished with natural paints, stone flooring downstairs, and Oeko-Tex certified pure linen bedding (which is more sustainable and better for regulating heat).
She has also designed her own natural non-toxic furniture range, the Ori Collection, with British brand Another Country. It includes a day bed with coir fibre and lamb’s wool, an ash coffee table and a planter. “What you bring into your home in terms of materials and furniture is also important,” adds Turner. “Look for naturally sealed fur