There’s a basic safety checklist that often accompanies the arrival of a new baby: Cover outlets, install gates near stairways, and attach child-proof locks on lower cabinets.
But when Laura Forbes Carlin and her husband, Scott, were awaiting their firstborn in 2003, it was the chemical odor of their new baby gear—the furniture, toys, and bedding—stored in their soon-to-be nursery closet that prompted them to take the concept of “clean and safe” to a new level.
“Expectant parents tend to buy all new things with the idea that new equates to safe,” says Laura. “But it makes no sense to create a beautiful nursery without considering whether products and materials are potentially harmful.”
Those concerns motivated Laura and her sister, Alison Forbes Houlihan, to learn all they could about everyday ways to make homes safer—digging into research and picking the brains of experts. Armed with that know-how, the pair founded The Art of Everyday Living, a consulting company focusing on health and well-being—an approach they call conscious living. They also co-authored The Peaceful Nursery (Delta Books, 2006), a parents’ guide to preparing a healthy haven for their babies. Today, educating parents makes up a large part of their business.
Interior designers: Laura Forbes Carlin and Alison Forbes, The Art of Everyday Living, 310/867-1504, artofeverydayliving.com. Landscape design: Liz Speed
Landscapes, 310/234-8238. Builder: Kevin McCauley, Sandalwood Properties LLC, 2821 Dell Ave., Venice, CA 90291; 310/210-2428. Color consultant: Philippa Radon, Creative Paint Techniques Inc., 661/724-1054. Green consultant: Earth Friendly Interior Design, earthfriendlyinteriordesign.com. Healthy home consulting, H3Environmental, 818/766-1787, h3environmental.com. Flowers: Mary Burton, 310/451-2684, maryburtonflowers.com. Green baby nursery consultations and book: Peaceful Nursery, 310/867-1504, peacefulnursery.com.
Photographs by Edmund Barr
Written and Produced by Krissa Rossbund
Crib: Dax Stores, 650/591-2190.
Toy shelf: Peaceful Nursery, peacefulnursery.com.
Crib sheet and skirt (by Coyuchi): LifeKind Products, 800/284-4983.
Bumper: Sage Creek Naturals.
Mattress: Vivetique, 800/365-6563.
Nursing-chair slipcover and Roman shades: GreenSage, 415/453-7915.
Painting: by Sam Simon, samsimonprojects.com.
Ark set: Karen Harlow for the Home, 760/674-4663.
Giraffe pillow: Kata Golda, 360/379-4714.
Throw: The Dutch Mill Organic Collection, Natural Beds, 800/278-5004.
Giraffe (by Kathe Kruse): Acorn Store, 310/451-5845, and Maukilo Toys, maukilo.com.
Bear and puppy: Gaiam, 877/989-6321.
Sheep (by Mi Yim Simply Organic): Whole Foods stores.
Balloon: Ballard Designs, ballarddesigns.com.
Paint (Air 1 by Yolo Colorhouse): Living Green, 310/838-8442.