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The Non-Toxic Furniture We Bought

non-toxic upholstered furnitureAs the California Flame Retardant Law has changed and the makers of upholstered furniture do not need to add pounds of super toxic flame retardant chemicals to your couch anymore, I started looking into buying new furniture. Shortly after that, I learned that flame retardants are not the only culprits in furniture (please see my post about that here). My long and painful journey led me to non-toxic furniture made by Cisco Brothers. Let me tell you why I chose it over others.


My first impression of Rowena, the owner of Pine Street Natural Designs store


When I met Rowena Finegan, the owner of Pine Street Natural Designs store, I noticed immediately that what she does for a living is what she believes in, not the other way around. Her business idea came out of her strong belief in the non-toxic living and the need for a variety of safe products. Back in 2003, she understood the lack of organic furniture that had a sophisticated style, a variety of colors, and was simply fun. She approached Cisco Brothers Corporation to create a line of furniture with truly non-toxic materials that would meet her strict criteria based on the principals of Bau-Biologie™. (Rowena is a trained Bau-biologist.) That’s how the line of non-toxic furniture called Inside Green was born.


Why I decided to buy my organic furniture from Rowena 


Quality Materials


The materials that Inside Green non-toxic furniture is made of consist strictly of organic or natural materials with the exception of wood finish and glue.


Foam: Remember last week’s post about how I was led to believe that I was buying 100% soybean foam whereas in reality the foam was made of petroleum? The foam in this organic furniture is free of petroleum, soy, and any fillers. It is 100% natural latex foam that is fully biodegradable. Moreover, it is certified organic by GOLS (Global Organic Latex Standard).


Wood: FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified Alder wood.


Fasteners: Each piece of wood is fastened with steel screws, and double-dowelled with water-based, low-VOC glue.


Wool: Comes from family farms in Oregon and California where the soil is continually turned, pesticides are forbidden, and sheep are still herded with the use of guardian dogs. I chose wool batting around the natural latex foam because I like firmer cushions. If you like a softer cushion, you might go for goose feather.


Goose Feathers: are sourced from farms that raise geese for food consumption – completing a vertically integrated business model which is both financially and ecologically beneficial to local economies and the end consumer. The feathers and down are separated by hi-tech machinery and are washed in biodegradable cleaners.


Fabrics: Certified organic cotton, natural hemp canvas, natural linen with vegetable or low impact dyes.


Finishing Touches: A combination of hemp webbing, jute, and hemp burlap finish out the frame.


Wood Finish: Upon request, Cisco Brothers uses Safecoat Naturals Penetrating Oil (this is what I chose), which is low-VOC oil without pigments or any preservatives.  The oil is a blend of polymerized linseed oil, organic flaxseed oil, modified soybean oil, hemp oil, and the least harmful solvent (aromatic hydrocarbons are removed from it). The drying agents are free of lead. True, it is not a perfect approach, but in my entire career as a researcher, I was able to find only one toy maker and one crib manufacturer that use 100% pure linseed oil, so this is about as good as it gets.


Removable Slip Covers in the Non-Toxic Furniture


We have an active toddler who has not learned to be careful yet so the fact that we can remove and wash the covers is very helpful.


Showroom in My Area


Cisco Brothers have a showroom in my area. (For a list of showroom locations, visit here.) I am a person who can’t make decisions just by looking at the pictures. I need to look at the furniture styles in person, sit down on the furniture, and feel its texture. When you go to a Cisco Brothers showroom, be sure to let them know that you are interested in Inside Green, as they also carry other lines. An inexperienced salesperson might tell you that all their furniture is non-toxic now. That statement simply means that they do not use flame retardants anymore. However, the foam – even though it is called soybean foam – is made mostly of petroleum.


To see the style available for sofas and sectional, visit here.  Everything can be ordered in Inside Green option.  We went with Cosmo sectional.


Impeccable Customer Service


Rowena walked me through every decision about the furniture. Rowena provides impeccable customer service. She even came to our house (Rowena is also an interior designer for an additional fee) and recommended colors that would look great in our house. We even let our two-year-old pick out one of the covers for a pillow that actually will look great! We loved the personal attention and the ability to match colors to our home.


Where to Buy and 10% Discount on Non-Toxic Furniture


I believe that Rowena sold me non-toxic furniture at a great price. Do not get me wrong – this non-toxic furniture is not cheap and you may have to save up for it. To see the furniture, visit the website here.  However, considering the quality of the materials and the fact that you buy furniture once or twice in your lifetime, I believe it is worth it.


Rowena tries her best to provide the best price. If you buy from Rowena, as opposed to Cisco Brothers, you will receive a larger discount from the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price).  Rowena offers 10% off on your first purchase if you tell her that you found her through my blog. She is a one-person business and she deserves your support.  The best way to contact Rowena is by phone at 1.866.933.1655 or email.


I will update the post when my non-toxic furniture arrives, which should be in a month or so. Please subscribe so you do not miss my updates. I have a lot of exciting plans for us. In the next post, we will talk about Tylenol. Is it safe or toxic?


Update as of 2/2/2015:  

My non-toxic furniture has arrived, and it is gorgeous.  The sectional is everything I expected: well-made, comfortable and beautiful.  I highly recommend it!  Take a look at the picture.

non-toxic upholstered furniture


Update as of January 22, 2019

We still love our non-toxic sectional.  I found out about a new company called Pure Upholstery and interviewed its owner.  Please read more about their organic furniture products, here.

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30 thoughts on “The Non-Toxic Furniture We Bought”

  1. Rachel Rich-Shea

    Thanks for sharing! I didn’t know much about Cisco Brothers or their Inside Green line. I have tried researching this topic quite a bit but never have finished the process or made a decision. It’s hard! What do you think of EKLA Home or Ecobalanza (if you have heard of them) and do you know how their prices compare to Cisco Brothers?

    1. I like EKLA Home a lot too. And they might be even cheaper. But they do not have showrooms and that’s a deal breaker for me. Ecobalanza is non-toxic too but I found that their customer service is inconsistent.

  2. I love Rowena at Pine Street Interiors!! I’ve also used her in the last year and purchased a Cisco chair – it came out beautifully. Highly recommend her – she has impeccable and classic style and is extremely knowledgeable. Not to mention, fun to work with 🙂

  3. Great posts and excellent to know about Rowena resource as working with a smaller boutique has it’s perks and sounds like better pricing too.
    I just got my ekla custom furniture delivered last week. We did sit on a piece by meeting the delivery van carrying one couch and pillows. We met them in a parking lot and went into their delivery truck. Funny experience but well worth it. We preferred it for comfort and looked good so we took the leap. We liked viesso and they could apply the wood stain with no voc but they had less organic healthy textile options. At viesso, their showroom has a mix of healthy non polyutheane products so be sure to talk to knowledgable specialist. I wonder what that means for the rooms they manufacture and assemble? Both viesso and ekla have some options but will customize. We understand that ekla has no Voc stains and their manufacturing warehouse won’t allow other types of furniture ie no polyurethane dusts.

    They use the certified organic natural latex rubber cores and wrap layers of needlepunched eco-wool around the rubber. This makes it firm and comfortable. – it was our favorite. They then upholster in undyed organic cotton twill fabric and use the upholstery fabric of your choice n the outside. We love oeco textiles and I met the founder in seattle. It started as a small woman run business and sthe is still at the helm working to grow it. I saw more than just what ekla offered from oeco but found by getting the ekla oeco textiles I got the bet price since they buy in larger quantities. Many designers can get the oeco fabric samples for you to explore more options but ekla has chosen fabrics that will last.
    Oeco textiles website is very knowledgable about these same issues. They have strong clients and designers in Europe but possible still small here. Of all the oeco fabric options they were one of the most strict about the fabric quality. I highly recommend them
    Slip cover was not discussed. Good idea. I would think ekla and viesso could do that too.

    The good news is whether Cisco, viesso, ekla or ?? , there are increasing choices of true healthy soft coverings. Thank you for bringing up this important topic!

  4. Thanks for the great info! Do you have any idea on how I would go about finding non-toxic furniture in Canada? How would I find a store like this? We recently bought new couches and the smell when they were delivered was horrible and my husband and I were worried it would cause harm to myself (being pregnant) and my 2 year old son as well as everyone else at home.

    1. I believe Cisco Brothers as well as other companies I recommended will ship to Canada. You can check with Rowena. You can also search online for Canadian manufacturers of organic furniture.

  5. I want to buy my son a small kid-sized chair (not a hard wood one, a comfy one we can put in the tv room with us). It doesn’t appear any of the recommended manufacturers make these (or I missed it on their site!). Do you have any recommendations for toddler-size chairs? Thanks!

    1. The rug is a funny coincidence. We did not try to match the rug with the house or furniture but it happened that it works for both. I got the rug long time ago before we bought the house. It was in one of those boutique stores that probably is not there.

  6. This could not have come at a better time! I am in the market for a non toxic sectional and chair. I found Cisco a year ago or so and loved him! My laptop got water spilled on it an died so I lost his website and couldn’t remember his name. Only problem I don’t live in Ca or NY so I can’t visit a showroom. I’m like you I really want to sit on it and touch it before I purchase especially at this price! Now I don’t know what to do. But thanks again for your hard work!! PS Yeah do you have any info about non toxic rugs?

  7. Thank you!! I did not see that; for some reason the Cisco Home site only lists their locations not how to find a retailer. I found one an hour and a half away. Not ideal but do-able! Thanks!! I’ll check out Earth Weave. Are rugs equally full of toxins? It seems we can’t escape them! argh!

    1. Great! Be sure to call Rowena first to see how you can buy through her (cheaper and 10% off). She will tell what to ask for when you are in a showroom. Rugs are not as a big source of exposure just because they are smaller but they may have bad chemicals such phthalates, formaldehyde, and flame retardants.

  8. I am new to your blog and wish I found it years ago as I love to read information on healthier products. Thank you for all of your hard work! Do you know anything about Eco Select Furniture? Thank you so much!

    1. If they just offer no flame retardants, it is not good enough because most furniture manufacturers stopped using flame retardants. The flammability law has changed. You want natural latex foam over polyurethane foam.

  9. I have to add my voice to the chorus of praise for all the meticulous research you are conducting on ways in which we can decrease the amount of toxins in our home.
    I love all the suggestions for furniture retailers, however, I live in Perth Western Australia and am really struggling to find any suppliers over here. I am in the market for a non-toxic lounge.
    It’s a long shot, but I was wondering if you might know of any suppliers over this way?

  10. Hi…I am looking for a fabric manufacturer in the US, preferably in North Carolina, that carries fabrics that are in the same ballpark as Cisco Brothers fabrics. I would like to get the names of a few if possible. I love Cisco fabrics, but like to have multiple options. It would be for 2 couches and 8+ chairs.


  11. Hello All – and Irina!

    Thank you for all of your kind comments about the products and services that we offer at Pine Street Natural Interiors. Since Irina started this blog, we have completed our website and you will be able to find a lot of very in-depth information regarding everything you need to furnish a healthy home – including healthy home interior design. As you will see, when you visit our site, we are very particular about what items we offer our customers. We cater to a lot of people with chemical sensitivities, so we have to be very careful in order not to add to their already very extensive list of woes. Please take a look at our site and don’t hesitate to contact either Lali or myself with your questions. We look forward to hearing from you! And don’t forget, 10% discount to Irina’s referrals!

  12. Hi! Thanks for the info and research that you share! How is your Cisco Brothers couch holding up? I recently purchased Smith Brothers furniture, and realized it contains flame retardants. 🙁 Not sure if I should try to return them (I’ll probably get a 25% restocking fee). What do you think the risk is?

    I do have more furniture that I need to purchase (mattresses and sofa/chairs for another room). I’ll be much more careful with those purchases. I’ve looked at Stem, Joybird, Room & Board and Cisco. I just need something that will really hold up. Any information is much appreciated! Thanks!

      1. Hi Irina, Our whole family (2 adults and kids). We do dust weekly and vacuum weekly with a dyson vacuum cleaner. I did find out that Smith Brothers does not contain flame retardants in the cushions any longer, however we did purchase some leather and the smell is quite strong, I think it is more of a “leather” smell. But now, I’m concerned about whatever the leather may be off gassing. Ugh! How have you liked your Cisco sectional? Does it wear well? Thanks!

        1. Hi, Cary:

          We love our Cisco sectional. It is not cheap but I believe it is worth it. I literally feel better when I spent time on it. It has this natural, comforting non-synthetic feel about it. I recommend contacting Rowena Finegan, the owner of Pine Street Natural Interiors, by phone (415.331.9323). She is a wealth of information. And she will help you find a local showroom for Cisco Brothers line of natural furniture. Mention my name for a discount. Let me know what you think. ~Irina

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