Kids' Furniture: Can You Pay Too Much for Good Design?

Nesting on 05.11.11
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Clockwise from upper left: Turtledove Child's Loveseat by Posh Tots ($1,404); Ellie Kiddie's Chair by Tots N Style ($398); Mini 1950's Copenhagen Chair by Restoration Hardware ($1,199); Junior Templeton Chair by Jonathan Adler ($1,095); Chesapeake Table and Benches by Pottery Barn ($269);

One of yesterday's hot topics at playgroup was kids' furniture, brought to us by the perusing of the catalogs Posh Tots and Serena and Lily. The problem was that the four of us moms were ogling over dozens of items that we would absolutely love to have in our house, but we were stopped by the prices. I really struggled with bringing loads of plastic toys and kid size furniture into my home, but at the same time, every time I lay my eyes on a pint size wing back chair or Victorian sofa, I melt and want it bad. It got me to thinking, how much is too much to pay for good design?

As a designer, I firmly believe in filling your home with things that make you happy, and that you'll actually use. And there is plenty of kids' furniture out there to suit every style from cottage to modern. But as a frugal momma, I also believe in getting the most for your money, and how is it possible to justify spending a few hundred dollars or even more than $1,000 on a pint sized piece of furniture that theoretically will only be usable for a handful of years?

The fact is that there is a big difference between the look of an Anywhere Chair and Jonathan Adler's Junior Templeton Chair and if price weren't an issue, I would hands down go with the latter. Why fill your yard with hard molded plastic tables and chairs when you could have a nice looking set like Pottery Barn's Chesapeake kids table and benches with coordinating umbrella that compliments your own set?

I can pretty much figure out a way to justify purchasing anything of good design. Just ask my husband. So if you can actually swing a grand for your kids' furniture, I say go for it, but follow these rules.

  1. LOVE It- If you don't truly, truly love it, it's not worth it.
  2. Go Neutral-Pick fabrics that are gender neutral if you plan on having more kids or if you have children of both genders so that you can get the most use out of them.
  3. Stay Away from Trends- If you are going to spend a small fortune, think about spending it on an item that you'll be able to pass down to nieces and nephews or your grandchildren or an item that will have resale value once you are done with it.
  4. Less is More- Don't buy a lot of different pieces, even the cheap ones. Stick to what you really need and love and let the great pieces stand out. If you tend to rotate items out of your house often, don't by expensive.
  5. Buy Early- If you are going to do it, do it when your children can start using it. There's little point in buying it when they are four years old and won't be able to use it for more than a year or two.
  6. Do the Math- If all else fails, break down the price as far as you can. If the items costs $1,000, and you'll get five years use out of it, that breaks down to 55 cents per day. It's certainly a lot less than a cup of coffee and it's a small price to pay if it's something that will truly put a smile on your face every day.

Of course, if you're going to have buyer's remorse every time you look at the item, skip it! It's important to love where you live, and make your house a home. As parents, life is chaotic enough so when we get the rare moment to relax, the last thing we need is to look around our house and hate what we see.

What do you think? How much is too much to pay for kids' furniture?

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