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Today, there are many natural choices in home furnishings, area rugs and flooring as an alternative to synthetics.  The most time-tested materials have always been and still are the natural ones like wood, stone, tile, wool, cotton, silk, jute, sisal, seagrass and leather, in fact there are wool and silk carpets that are hundreds of years old that still have retained there vibrant color and texture, hardwood flooring that is still being walked on today in some of the oldest castles in Europe, and tile and stone that is still seen in some of the most ancient structures known to man. While it is true that synthetic area rugs, carpet, vinyl flooring and laminate are all very durable, but in the long run, many of these products on the average only live beautifully for around seven years. What happens is that these products don’t necessarily wear out but ugly out, and then they end up in landfills to become a permanent part of our landscape. Let’s take a look at some of natural choices that have been in use for thousands of years.
Furniture and flooring made of wood offer a greener choice over faux laminated products. Much of the finest furniture and flooring made today is made from reclaimed lumber and old timber called sinkers (old growth logs that were floated down rivers and lakes that have sunk). Reclaimed wood is often taken from old buildings, factories and barns, most of which are hundreds of years old. The most common species used were Longleaf heart pine, American Chestnut, Oak, Hickory and Poplar.  Many of these woods were once plentiful and harvested from old growth but now are only available through reclamation. The popularity of reclaimed wood is its unique physical characteristics and appearance that cannot be found in newly cut wood. Reclaimed wood can be sawn into wider planks than newly harvested wood because it has been subject to extreme changes in humidity far longer making it much more stable ad a perfect choice for furniture and hardwood floors. Wood, especially reclaimed wood, is the perfect green choice for decorating your home.
There are so many naturally beautiful alternatives for area rugs and other floor coverings available. In fact the most beautiful and durable rugs and floors are still and always will be the natural ones, and if you compare the cost of these products to the synthetic alternatives you will find out that they are much less expensive in the long run compared to their plastic cousins.
Area rugs and carpet made of natural fibers not only look better and are more soil resistant, but keep their color longer and are much more resistant to matting because of there natural resiliency. Natural fibers clean more thoroughly than synthetics, which required a special topical treatment to give them stain and soil resistance. one that often needs to be reapplied after cleaning. Natural fibers are also highly fire resistant and contribute less toxic gases when burned, in fact wool carpets are used for high safety environments like trains and aircraft. Rugs made of natural fibers also keep their value and many end up becoming family heirlooms. Sea grass, used to carpet Sierra Wisteria in Chester, has a look that can not be imitated by synthetic carpet. The decision to use seagrass had to do with its durability and since the fiber is non-porous it is very soil resistant and easy to keep clean. It blends beautifully with the furniture and area rugs offered in the store.  Sea grass is offered at Sierra Wisteria. It is grown in large meadows in tidal zones in India and Vietnam and is not a cultivated crop that requires fertilizers or pesticides to grow rapidly and abundantly.
Tile and stone can be used in many applications. Furniture, counter tops, shower stalls and floors can become a permanent part of your décor unlike their synthetic counterparts. Many of the finest homes built today will incorporate the use of tile and stone because of its immense durability and lasting value.  A lot of people have been misinformed by thinking that tile and stone is cold to the touch, while in fact, tile and stone flooring absorbs heat during the day then radiates it back out at night, unlike vinyl flooring.
So the next time you decide to redecorate your home consider some of the more natural options and by doing so you will not only be contributing to keeping our outdoor environment clean but keeping your indoor environment clean as well.
Written by Mark McColm, Owner of  Sierra Wisteria Furniture in Chester, Floor Covering Contractor with over 34 years experience.