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As the owner and principal designer of Niche Interiors, a San Francisco–based design firm specializing in eco-friendly interiors, Jennifer Jones knows how harmful the chemicals in conventional furniture and decor can be. So when it came time to design her son Owen’s nursery, Jones and her husband, Angelo DiGiovine, were passionate about using the safest materials possible. “Green design is important for people of all ages, but it’s crucial for infants,” says Jones. “They spend so much time in their room, and they’re extremely vulnerable to the effects of chemicals.”

Her first priority was to ensure good air quality in the nursery. “My husband and I used zero-VOC paint, natural fabrics, and sustainable furniture to avoid toxic emissions,” says Jones. “We specifically avoided upholstery that contained flame retardants and anything made with PVC or MDF.”

And not everything was new. A petite, eco-friendly rocking chair was on Jones’s must-have list, but when she discovered a mid-century armchair at a flea market, she decided to upcycle instead. “We bought a water-based polyurethane to finish the legs and arms of the chair and chose a natural cotton-and-linen-blend fabric to cover it,” says Jones. “I love repurposing something and giving it new life.”

Even though health concerns were top of mind, Jones didn’t want to sacrifice style. She envisioned a colorful and sophisticated room that was appropriate for a baby but could easily grow with her son. “Owen is three years old now, and that approach has really helped to minimize unnecessary waste,” says Jones. “We specifically looked for a crib that converted to a toddler bed and a dresser with a changing pad attachment that could be removed.” She also had the future in mind when she chose the yellow and gray color palette. “I thought gray would keep the room from looking too babyish,” she says.

Jones and her husband also tackled two DIY projects that are focal points in the room: the chain link wall stencil (an Etsy find) and the whimsical bookshelves, which were created with reclaimed wood from a local salvage yard. “Both were made with a lot of love, and they’re my favorite parts of the room,” she says. Owen, however, likes the overhead light best. “Green seems to be his favorite color,” says Jones. When your mom is an eco-friendly interior designer, what else would it be?

Greening the Nursery

  • Paint: Choose zero- or low-VOC paint, which releases fewer harmful volatile organic compounds into the air. Jones’s favorite is Benjamin Moore’s Natura Paint because it’s zero-VOC and comes in a wide range of colors.
  • Crib: Look for a crib with non-toxic finishes that meets the highest regulations for formaldehyde emissions (most cribs manufactured in Europe or Canada will meet this standard). Jones likes Oeuf (oeufnyc.com) for its clean, modern style and use of sustainably harvested wood.
  • Mattress: Standard crib mattresses often contain harmful flame retardants. Opt for a mattress made from natural latex, organic wool, or organic cotton. Naturepedic (naturepedic.com) and OMI (omimattress.com) are good sources.
  • Fabrics and Flooring: Avoid upholstered furniture that contains flame retardants. Some retailers, including Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Crate & Barrel, and Design Within Reach, have started to make the switch to safer materials, but it’s always best to ask. When buying window treatments, choose natural, organic fabrics; for flooring, Jones’s pick is a hardwood floor and area rugs made from natural wool or cotton.
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