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Although Stacy and I decided to leave our walls white and use artwork to add color and texture, our two young boys were clamoring for some color on the walls in their rooms. So after several trips to the home improvement store and dozens of paint swatches taped to the wall, we settled on some colors.

However, picking the paint color was just the start. We also wanted to choose paint that was environmentally friendly and had low- or zero-VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are toxic emissions from paints and finishes. Our builder, Benedict and Associates, used low-VOC construction adhesives and we wanted to continue this practice, especially in our kids' rooms.

When we first began our house project I started seeing ads for a paint called Mythic that featured zero VOCs. At the time I had no idea what VOCs were and why they can be harmful. But the paint had a cool retro label that caught my attention and I visited the company website. As it turns out, that "new home smell" is the off-gassing of VOCs and cancer-causing toxins that are emitted for years. I found only two retailers that sold Mythic in the Twin Cities but they were quite a long drive.

I did more research and found several other options: Harmony from Sherwin Williams, Natura from Benjamin Moore, and an affordable new line from Dutch Boy called Refresh. We bought Dutch Boy at our local Menards store.

I was pleased with our decision to use the no-VOC paint. After several days of painting, there was no strong smell and the boys could sleep in their rooms once the paint had dried.

To learn more about Jason Hammond's new house and to see photos and previous blog posts, go to Or e-mail him at