I just love those Pottery Barn Anywhere chairs! They are just too cute and what kid wouldn’t want to have one!?! But I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a product that was loaded with toxic flame retardants…knowing that those chemicals lower IQ, cause cancer, hormone disruption and more! From a conversation with Pottery Barn, I was told that they used Chlorinated Tris, the same chemical that was banned from children’s PJs in the 1970′s due to its toxicity! Yikes! And even if that has changed since that has been well over a year, PB is NOTORIOUSLY evasive about what chemicals they use in their products (it took me two years to get the info I have!) and there is no doubt the chemical has just been switched for another nasty chemical. That is the problem when using polyurethane foam, you can almost guarantee it is loaded with very toxic chemicals, not to mention the actual chemicals used to make the foam. The foam breaks down over time creating a dust that contains these flame retardants that your child will breath and be exposed to through his or her skin. PB also tried to sell their chairs as “green” in a terrible greenwashing campaign, by saying it is using partial soy foam. Oh great, so now I have partial polyurethane foam, part GMO soybeans all covered in toxic flame retardants…no thanks.
So I searched and searched for a good substitute and I only found two options. None are COMPLETELY non-toxic…but pretty darn close!
The first is organic bean bags. I found these at EcoSak and considered going the bean bag route…but I really wanted one of those chairs. So it was up to me to make one…so here it goes!
*Disclaimer-I am not a woodworker, upholsterer, furniture maker, or anything similar…just a mom who got creative. Make at your own risk. Cost the entire project out before starting so it doesn’t get out of hand!
# 1. BUY WOOD- I bought four pieces of PINE wood. I didn’t want to do MDF or other particle board. While the finished product would have been easier to make with these…the whole point was to make it as non-toxic as possible and these woods are made with toxic glues and formaldehyde, etc. So pine was the lightest. I bought a long piece and had it cut at my local hardware store. So a two perfect squares of around 20″x20″ ( I guessed this because the PB chair was 25″ from what I remember). You can make this larger for a bigger kid. I wouldn’t do too much smaller though. I made mine the size of two pieces of pine put together. I couldn’t find pine wide enough so I attached two boards together and that was my width and height. I have attached pics so you can get an idea for size! Then I had two pieces cut for the arms. They were the same length MINUS the width of the board. So if your board is 1 inch, then you would have it cut to 19 inches. This will keep if from sticking out. Then about half the height for the height of the arms…so I did a little less than this at 9 inches. My suggestion is to take newspaper or other large pieces of paper and cut it out to the size you want. Have a square back and bottom, then cut your rectangles for the arms to the size you like. Keep in mind that once you put the foam on the chair that it will add two inches all the way around the arms and 4 inches to the base of the chair where baby sits and 4 inches to the back of the chair. This gives enough padding that they don’t feel or get hurt by the wood.
Cost of one pine board-Under $15
#2 -BUY HINGES AND GLUE- Buy metal hinges and flat supports. SInce The back will be composed of two board and the bottom will be composed of two boards in order to make a square, you will need to drill in metal brackets to secure…use a lot in different areas since pine is soft. Same goes for the arms. Also buy some non-toxic glue there…I used Titebond….perfect? Nope but better than most. You can look for a completely non-toxic clue if you like…just make sure it will glue foam to foam and foam to wood.
Cost of Brackets and Glue-Under $20
#3-BUY FOAM- Buy a queen sized evergreen mattress from White Lotus Home.
Cost of foam-$68
Use our coupon for 20% off here! They have been kind enough to offer our followers a coupon!
*White Lotus Home*
*US Manufacturer & Wholesaler of **Natural & Organic Bedding since 1981. *
Is offering 20% off to all friends of:
Organic Baby University
Please enter TC20% @ check out at this link
*All NEW ORDERS* only!
SALE Expires *August 1, 2012 *@ Midnight EST.
Enjoy the coupon code TC20% and stock up on organic
bedding and winter season staples for
you and yours.
If you have any questions or would like to place an order over the phone,
please call 732.828.2111, or email our Sales Department,
firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure you mention this note.
#4- ATTACH BOARDS TO EACH OTHER FOR CHAIR “FRAME”-You will need to attach the boards together into a back (made from two pine boards) and secure them to each other, then the bottom (with two pine boards) and secure that to the back. Finally you will secure the arms. See pic
#5-CUTTING AND GLUING- This is where it gets tricky. When you get your foam You need 3 squares cut the size of the back with an extra two inches at the top to protect injury from the wood being exposed. One will be glued to the back side of the chair on the back and two will be glued to the front side of the back (where the child’s back will be resting). It is best to use a serrated knife to cut this foam after first drawing your cutting area with a marker. You will need to cut one inch long chunks out of the two pieces for the front part of the back for the arms. Glue these on first. Glue the back and then rest the chair on its back to secure…use a LOT of glue. Then do the front and put something heavy on it to secure.
Next you will want to do the arms. Measure how long and wide the foam will need to be to go from the bottom of the chair where the arms are to the seat. You will want it to go all the way to the bottom on each side. You will need to glue half of it first (the outside arm and them turn chair to rest on that side to secure, then do the inside and hold down with something heavy. Then switch) I gave each side a day to dry so this will take 4 days. It will only be one mattress thickness thick.
Next is the seat. Measure with a measuring tape the square space in the seat that needs a foam cushion. You will make this TWO mattresses thicknesses thick. So the mattress is 2 inches thick and you will want it to be 4 inches thick. Once you do it you may decide to do 6 inches thick. Your choice. This is easy and make sure there are no spaces around the edges.
Finally, you will do a rectangle for the top of the chair to fill in the gap from the wood and another triangle for the front part of the seat to cover the wood.
This part isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Just make sure to plan and draw it out on the mattress before you start cutting so you have as little waste as possible, otherwise you will have to buy more foam! It isn’t HARD it is just time consuming and you have to use your noggin’!
#6- ORDERING FABRIC- I used organic cotton which is more…you can do regular cotton and wash it a bunch of times if you are trying to save some money. I was told I needed 4 yards. Check with your upholsterer before ordering. I also bought the same amount of muslin to have the entire chair covered…so when they made the cotton over, it doesn’t have a bottom so it can be removed and washed and the underparts of the chair are secure with the muslin. It was secured with staples and sewn to the chair size.
Cost-$VARIABLE! (Price this out before you buy anything!! It can be expensive!)
#7-SEND IT OFF TO THE UPHOLSTERER- Make sure they make a pattern so you can have for the future. Then if you ruin the cover you can have another made for WAYYYY cheaper. This is the expensive part depending on your upholsterer. This is what I would get quoted FIRST before you start this endeavor. This will vary wildly depending where you live. Have him put little feet on the bottom as well.
DONE! Congrats! You have made a chair that is MUCH less toxic than traditional chairs and NO FLAME RETARDANTS!