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Healthy Decorating

WebMD Feature from "Country Living" Magazine

By Jane Dagmi

Country Living Magazine

My husband has recently developed allergies that require eliminating dust-catching fabrics and carpet from our bedroom. Please recommend a decorating strategy that will help us create a bedroom environment that minimizes dust-catching curtains and bed coverings but keeps style and warmth. So far, we've thought about window treatments with Charleston shutters and removing dust ruffles and heavy comforters. The carpet must go, and we are looking at hardwood flooring. We just need to know how to pull it all together and still have an comfortable room. --Donna Jenings

Dear Donna,

While you have not filled me in on the exact allergy problem in question, I believe you can certainly create an inviting and restful retreat that would benefit your husband's health. In fact, I would view a redesign or clean-out as a wonderful opportunity to simplify your bedroom, thereby diminishing some of the maintenance work and dusting that are routinely required. In your case, minimizing your belongings will bring physical relief and, hopefully, peace of mind as well.

From building a house to decorating one, there is a lot of information on how to do it "green." Creating a healthy home is a popular subject for authors and manufacturers alike. I got a quick education on this topic by clicking here and there, and I found some pointers that could start you on your bedroom redesign:

  • Paint manufacturers offer latex and water-based low-odor products.
  • Leather, wood and vinyl deter dust mites.
  • Washing textiles in hot water helps to fight those hearty mites.
  • Nontoxic cleaning agents like baking soda and vinegar are also natural and inexpensive.
  • Many types of houseplants help rid the air of impurities.

So with that in mind, this is what I envision: Spare surroundings, not spartan ones. Sunlight reflected off of wood or wood-laminate floors. A tufted leather headboard or handsome wooden sleigh bed would make a cozy bed frame. For added warmth, two simple rug runners might flank each side of the bed. Make a washable slipcovered loveseat or chaise a comfortable reading place. As for window treatments, keep them washable or easy to dust. Make sure you can open windows easily. Minimize clutter. Family photos, for example, can be hung rather than collecting dust on bedside tables.

This pared-down design scheme can also be applied to other areas of your home, which may then feel more comfortable, healthful and tranquil. You may fall in love with the simpler life and find real pleasure in living more Zen. I often contemplate changing over myself!

Here are some resources to follow up on:

  • For window ideas:
  • For helpful information from the American Lung Association:
  • For info on creating cleaner air:
  • For green paint products, start at:
  • For natural and organic bedding:
  • For washable slipcovers:
  • For bedroom furniture:


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