Green Week // Special Guest: Meredith Legenos, Sprout San Francisco.
This is where Green Week starts to get awesome, folks. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Meredith Legenos, the interior design guru at Sprout San Francisco, an amazing natural and organic children's boutique. Meredith has the exciting and super-important job of helping families put together a safe, healthy and cute bedroom or playroom for their kids, and I'm so happy she took the time to answer some questions for me about creating a green and healthy nursery with style. (Let's just say I ended up buying a new crib mattress for my little guy after learning about some great new options from her.)
What we cover here is just the 101 of raising your family in a green and healthy home. For more, check out the Sprout blog, which is regularly updated with information and advice. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to be the interior design guru at Sprout San Francisco.
I had been working in the baby industry at a friend's boutique for over three years, there I fell in love with the idea of helping families prepare for their new arrivals, especially setting up the nursery. This is when Serena and Lily were just getting started and the baby industry was actually becoming an industry. It was fun coordinating fabrics with artwork and furniture.
I moved to San Francisco and actually spied a little on Sprout while they were unpacking boxes getting ready to open. The first weekend they opened, I walked into Sprout to buy my sister, who was pregnant with twins at the time, a gift (and of course to get a lay of the land). I instantly fell in love...everything stylish and organic at the same time. I asked if they were hiring. Two years later we are helping customers plan their nursery with an emphasis on green design. Now more than ever, it is so important to make sure the products we are bringing into our home are not only safe for us but also for our new little ones. At Sprout, you believe that being green doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sacrifice style. Tell us about your current favorite brands for gear that make this possible?
Luckily there are so many great new and older brands producing organic fabrics and green furniture. I remember just two years ago the bedding and furniture options were not that visually appealing. Most bedding options were off-white with little or no design and since babies sleep in their cribs for up to 16 hours a day it is so important we make this a safe and healthy haven for them. We are happy now that there are options!
- I'm loving Kalon's new Caravan crib. Made here in the USA and of 100% solid maple wood. The Caravan crib mixes fresh maple wood with bright pops of colors. You have the option of a rich coral, bright aqua blue and even a fresh yellow. I think this crib is a great way to introduce a bright color in your nursery. Also, such a great price: $695.
- Another great product on my list is Dwell Studio's organic mix and match bedding. They have such fun bright colors with great patterns. I love the idea of mixing a bright kelly green with a hot pink. They are also great if you are on a budget or love to switch it up since they are mix and match you're not stuck with buying an entire bedding set.
- My new favorite art work is Senn & Sons. It is really hard to find great art work that can transition from your nursery to toddler room or even teen's room! I love Kim's unique color combination as wells as prints. Also, her paints are water-based and non-toxic. (What what?? I PROMISE I didn't pay her to say that, but I am more than happy to print it.)
What do you think is the biggest misconception about creating a green nursery?
I really think the biggest misconception is it is too expensive. I have met so many customers and friends along the way who think buying sustainable furniture, organic bedding, mattress etc. is so expensive and doesn't really matter. Sustainable furniture has a big price range but with great brands like Kalon, Oeuf, Stokke and Argington you can buy a great looking crib and dresser without breaking the bank. Plus, they all offer toddler conversion kits so they are able to last a lot longer.
It’s a little overwhelming to begin a nursery design – especially when you’re focused on making it as safe for your child as possible. Can you summarize the top five things to be aware of/look for when creating a green nursery?
Here is a quick vocab list so we all know what to look out for. Most of these harmful chemicals are found in our everyday products, whether it be furniture, mattresses, bedding or rugs: VOCs - Volatile Organic Compounds are chemicals that contaminate our air quality. Polyurethane stuffing - Foam core used in most stuffed furniture. It contains toluene, which is consistently listed as one of the most toxic chemicals and is known to cause cancer. It also emits VOCs. Fire Retardant Chemicals - Such as PBDE or Polybrominated Diphenyl - The Environmental California Research and Policy Center says that some of the most commonly used fire-retardant compounds are PBDE. According to the ECRPC, exposure to PBDEs may be especially harmful to infants and fetuses. PBDEs have been banned in Europe since 2004, and American women carry 10-70 times more PBDEs in their breast milk, tissue, and blood as Europeans do. Exposure to PBDEs during fetal development can negatively affect brain development. HAP or Hazard Air Pollutants - Toxic chemicals that may cause reproductive or birth defects and can be found in unregulated furniture stain and glue.
Top 5: - Paint. Yolo is a great company that makes zero VOC paint which means it does not off-gas any harmful chemicals into your air. They have great colors and are able to match a color or your choice.
- Wall paper by Dwell Studio is not only VOC, formaldehyde and palates free they make sure it is mold proof as well (plus super cute prints).
- The furniture you really need in your space is a crib and place to change your baby. Whether it be a changing table or existing dresser with a changing tray on top. Make sure your furniture is solid wood or formaldehyde free birch, plywood or MDF.
- Mattress. It is so important to purchase an organic mattress. Most mattress are required to spray flame retardants in them which are harmful chemicals. Naturepedic is a wonderful company here in the USA. Not only are they organic but affordable as well. What do you think is the most worthwhile splurge when you’re designing a nursery, and where should I save? Splurge: Furniture: crib, dresser, and glider. Buy transitional pieces you'll keep, a crib that converts to a toddler bed, a dresser with a changing tray so you can then use it as just a dresser, and a cozy chair...always great for a bed time story or lazy a Sunday reading.
Save: Bedding. I think there are so many mix and match pieces on the market now. Be smart and buy a few sheets, a crib skirt and bumper if you choose. At some point your child will stop using them so there is no need to spend hundreds on a themed jungle bedding set you'll be sick of in 6 months! If I’m on a budget, how can I make the biggest impact for my money?
Buy products you know you'll use right when you bring your baby home. You don't need 2 swings, a bouncy seat, exersaucer and jungle gym. These are all "things" that your friend will rave about but what happened to self-soothing and tummy time on the floor? Sprout has recently launched a service to help families design their nursery to be safe and stylish. Tell us more about how that works and how it helps parents in the process of designing their nursery.
We are proud to educate expecting parents and families with our complimentary design services plus in home visits. There are so many products on the market that it can be over-whelming trying to figure out what is safe, practical and cost-effective for your space and budget. We really want to get the message out there that it is important to choose safe products for your family and we can provide the resources in choosing what works best for you. We offer complimentary in-store consultations with fabric swatches and wood samples from all of our green vendors. At an hourly rate we offer in home consultations and installments as well.
Thanks so much, Meredith!
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