Friday, May 13, 2016

Sofas, Smell, and Stench, Oh My!

On March 22, I wrote about our issues with sofas. We've been trying to obtain new furniture since July of last year. Our 10-year-old Ashly sectional broke, so we bought new furniture at Grand, two over-sized love seats.

After two months, the one we were sitting in broke. I allowed them to fix it, and we sat in the other, and after two months, it broke.

They replaced that, but the furniture smelled so badly that we moved it to the garage, and ultimately ended up asking Grand to take it away.

So we picked out different furniture, and it was delivered on April 30.


The furniture is all the same color, it just doesn't look it in the light. We hadn't planned on the chair, but from early February until the end of April we had nothing to sit in but lawn furniture. My back couldn't take it and they had the power chair that matched the furniture on the floor at the Tanglewood Grand store, so I bought it so we'd have something to sit in.

The chair had a mild odor after it was delivered. By the fourth day, I could no longer smell it.

The new furniture at first did not seem to smell, but then after we'd had it about four days, the odor began in earnest. It was not as bad as the other furniture (which the delivery man informed us stunk up his truck for two days after he picked it up; it was the same fellow), but bad enough to keep me out of the kitchen and living room.

Once again we put out baking soda and charcoal absorbers to try to eliminate the odor. We ran fans. Finally, I found a product called Ozium Air Sanitizer, available in automotive stores (and probably others), which claims on the bottle to reduce airborne bacteria and eliminate smoke and malodors. It seemed to help, so I started spraying it three or four times a day in the living room.

The Ozium smells a bit like lemon when it is first sprayed.

I can now sit in the furniture for a while without it messing with my sinuses or giving me a sore throat. I don't stay in there for hours on end, but I can get back on the treadmill and watch HBO so long as it is not a long movie. My hope is that after a few days more I can treat the living room like, well, my living room.

The new furniture sits well and looks good. This time we bought a love seat and a sofa (and the unexpected purchase of the power recliner). The sofa is as big as the oversized love seats were in the other brand of furniture. We like the size of this furniture better, I think, though we were quite content with our original purchase until it broke.

Now our fingers are crossed that (a) this will stop smelling, which I am sure it will eventually, and (b) it holds up and doesn't break.

As an aside, I think furniture companies have a responsibility to inform purchasers of off-gassing issues with new furniture. Grand was good to work with but they did not really want to accommodate my request to hold the furniture in their warehouse, uncovered, for several weeks so it could air out. They held it for 10 days which obviously wasn't long enough, and the salesman was pushing me to get it delivered. Frankly, if they are going to sell this stuff with this odor, which can be hazardous to anyone with asthma or other lung issues, then they should set aside a place to let it air out for a long time before delivery. I can't be the only person in the area who is sensitive to this off-gassing.

If you type in "off gassing" on Google, you find this is an issue for many people and for many objects. This is what comes from deregulation and from lack of oversight of what companies sell. It is definitely a "buyer beware" sort of world. I have a feeling most of these things that stink are not good for you, and probably continue to create problems even after the odor eases. Some sites claim the odors and problems associated with it continue for up to a year.

The last time I had this much trouble with something was in 2005, when we purchased carpeting. After that experience, I have sword we will never again put in new carpet, which means hardwood floors or tile or something when the time comes to replace the carpet (which, since it is 10 years old, is not so far off).

While I am on the subject of stinking stuff, we had the living room painted while it was empty. The painter used Natura paint by Benjamin Moore, and it had only a mild odor. I am quite allergic to paint and was able to stand this without having my mouth and hands swell up, as sometimes happens with other brands.

The lessons learned here are many. First, lack of regulation allows anything to be sold in this country, and it doesn't matter whether it is healthy for you or if it will kill you - and unfortunately many of us, brought up in better times, still think there is a regulatory body out there that keeps harmful things from entering the consumer highway. That is not the case, however, and it is best to remember that. No one is going to look after you but you, and that is certainly true since the 1980s. It has always been so but I know growing up that civics courses taught otherwise - in the 1970s, at least, there was an indication that the government regulated manufacturers so that they couldn't sell stuff that would kill you. Or at least that was the impression I was left with. That is obviously no longer the case.

Second, deal with a reputable company so that if you have problems, you have recourse for remedy. Grand has been very good to deal with in this matter, and I think the fact that we purchased from a long-standing reputable dealer made a difference here. Get to know the folks you're dealing with, too.

Buying local, even if the stuff ultimately comes from across the sea, makes more sense every day.

*I have not been paid to talk about any product or company mentioned in this post.*


  1. well, that is a thought, that something is wrong with the product, rather then assuming oh well things just smell that way. My daughter thinks the vacuum cleaner makes the room stink, but to me it just smells like most vacuums always have. But I have allergies so I just probably have a habit of ignoring things in order to be able to get through the day. But my grandmother used to buy Ethan Allen and we still have the wood products fifty years later. Ethan Allen is that solid.

  2. Sorry to hear you had such issues with your new furniture. Here's hoping the new stuff lasts you several years at the very least.


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