This is one of my first changes in my apartment. My little girl is 3 years old and her old room was too dark and out of date. I am still working on decorating room, but these are some of the changes that I have already done:

I have stripped the old wall paper and painted the room ocher with one pink accent wall. Original PVC floor was replaced with laminate.

I have purchased new bed and chest of drawers from Ikea. They are very practical as well as beautiful. Bed can transform into queen size bed and it has 3 drawers for storage.

I have renovated the old windows with some fresh paint and fitted them with new curtains.

I have reused 3 cabinets dating from 1950-ties by painting them white and adding some new hardware. I have decided to do that because they were made from solid wood.

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We have moved to Prague last November and have been slowly making changes to our apartment. Now the time has come to do something about our daughters room, which has pretty much served as a closet for nearly a decade.

The bedroom is located in a socialistic prefabricated conrete building from early 1980′s. The room had old wood windows with peeling paint. The wallpaper was very old and underneath it was even older wallpaper originally applied in the 1980′s. The walls had many large holes and one wall was finished with some kind of material similar to gypsum board with some other questionable materials added. This material was stapled to the concrete wall wit 12 large anchors that were every difficult to pull out. Also industrial glue for PVC glue down installation was used on half of the wallpaper. So what was originally and easy demo and prep work turned into a whole day worth of work. The sort of gypsum board had to be broken up and removed, wallpaper had to be almost chiseled off and the holes in a wall cemented in. The gypsum board contained some very nasty ingredients because contractor later complained of burning skin and lungs and as if he had splinter on his hands. Before demo I have asked him to wear gloves and mask but he refused. I don’t know but I think that contractors feel sometimes too confident for their own good.

Windows

But anyways, the contractor put a new stucco up and painter the walls. The next day Matt and I stripped the old windows of the old layers of paint and refinished them with a specialty window paint  from Balakryl (ecological water soluble paint approved for use on children toys and in a food services).

I have taken care to choose products with low VOC’s such as water soluble paints. Wall paint contained 1g/l of VOC’s and window paint 30g/l.

Furniture

In the czech republic in the past decades the use of “perinak” was very common. It is sort of a chest used for storage of bedding. This bedroom contained some furniture of a little value but there were two pieces that I decided to preserve from economical as well as ecological reasons. They are both made from solid wood, finished with only a light stain. This made it desirable as furniture available within our budget is made mainly form wood particle boards which are of lower quality, contain formaldehyde, are heavy, and are hard to refinish. And I have to say that I have really found liking in recycling and refinishing old solid wood furniture.

I have sanded these two pieces to remove their original wood stain. Applied a base coat, lightly sand it over again and applied 3 additional layers. The last layer was a protective coat with a high gloss and resistant against abrasion. The paint was also approved for use at children’s toys and in food services.

Floor

New laminate flooring with E1 formaldehyde certification was installed. It has a beautiful dark brown walnut pattern. I have decided to use laminate flooring because I am opposed to PVC and laminate should be a sufficient material to use in a girls bedroom as a low traffic area that will suffer little abuse and will not be subject to high moisture.

As far as my objection to PVC, it is a material that has many excellent qualities. Its durable, fire retardant, soft and warm on feet,  moisture resistant, and it can be manufactured in many beautiful designs ad textures,…it is pretty much indestructible. But PVC is made from oil and in contains plasticizers and other chemicals. But don’t forget, even though its fire retardant, that when smoldering it releases dangerous gases.  But its actually very popular material in Czech, mainly for its affordable price and durability.

Laminate does contain formaldehyde but its use is nowadays monitored pretty well and there is a certification system used within the European Union to assure maximal heath safety. If the material has E1 certification than it should be safe. I suggest to use specific live plants in rooms along with laminate flooring that absorb any formaldehyde gases released from furniture or flooring.

I would love to have some discussion on laminate and PVC flooring. I am myself very torn between those two. Really, what is their effect on health? What is your experience?

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