Why I’m Not Into Kid-Sized Furniture

published Jul 1, 2022
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Credit: Pottery Barn
Carolina Craft Play Table from Pottery Barn

Here’s something for whoever needs to hear it, and you know who you are: you do not need to have kid-sized furniture in your house if you don’t want it.

When my daughter turned one, my aunt sent us the cutest table set from Pottery Barn Kids. It was a beautiful, sturdy set and we were so surprised and excited about the gift. Our 1-year-old would sit (sort of) at the small table and chairs, little legs dangling above the ground, looking very pleased with the set. I loved it, too, for about a year, then got frustrated because we couldn’t find a suitable place for it in our apartment. When my daughter was three, we decided it was time to pass it on. I was worried she’d miss the table, but soon she was back on the floor coloring and playing without skipping a beat, because that’s just how kids are. 

Turns out, I had put way more time and attention into the feelings around “taking something away” from my child because it didn’t work for me, when in fact kids just don’t really care about the things they don’t have at that age, especially furniture. They use their creative little brains to make up whatever it is they want to play with. Removing the mini-sized table set from our house actually gave her more opportunities to be creative, letting her make random things into “tables” and playing restaurant with a stack of pillows or on the windowsill. And we got creative, too: when guests came to dinner we tossed a blanket on the living room floor and let the kids have an indoor picnic. They had a designated area to eat, and the blanket got folded up and put away afterward – no bulky furniture to contend with.

With the exception of a crib, high chair, and maybe a booster seat, I don’t believe you have to have anything in your home that has a size limitation for people under 50lbs and shorter than 3-feet tall. As soon as I could, I swapped our space-hogging high chair for a booster, and then moved my daughter into a regular size chair around age 4. In all honesty, I think you could even skip a booster seat, as long as you have a few old encyclopedias laying around (joking, sort of). When we have really little ones come to our house for a visit I bring out the counter-height step stool and a kitchen towel (just like my grandma did in the 50’s!) and it more than does the job! 

I love the idea of using color, instead of size, to make something feel like it belongs in a kids’ space. Louisa has a bright yellow vintage furniture set in her bedroom that was originally marketed as a “teen set” in the 1970s when it was manufactured. We chose it because it was full sized, and is something we can parcel out and use at a later date in any room of the house. You can always paint an item down the road to help it fit into a new environment, but it’s trickier to make something bigger!

As for outdoor furniture, it’s tempting to want to buy those cute little mini adirondack chairs, or a kid-size picnic table, but honestly it’s just more stuff to mow around. Consider adding extra pillows or thicker cushions to your existing adult-size chairs to help the kids fit more comfortably, then redistribute the cushions as the kids get bigger. A coffee table or side table is perfect for kids to sit at when dining al fresco: the table size is small, it’s closer to the ground, and gives kids a feeling of independence for getting their very own designated space to sit. Coffee tables that are even lower to the ground make excellent kids tables; just add a few pillows for them to sit or kneel on while eating. 

Present day, our daughter is six, we’re in house, and in regards to “kid furniture” the count is down to one item that is hidden away in the basement: a Nugget. It was sent as a gift, and is currently in the “pending” pile of items I want to get rid of. Big surprise! It was fun the first few days, then my daughter discovered couch cushions do the same things – something I’m equally grateful for and annoyed with.

Even now, living in a house that has more space than our previous apartment, I still don’t subscribe to the notion that you have to have kid furniture. It’s all about balance, and sometimes you have to first live with something to learn what you can actually live without.