When my husband and I got married, we were beyond broke and did not have money to furnish our apartment with new furniture. Instead, we went to a thrift shop and bought a dining room table and two chairs for $25, and even that was a big purchase in our minds. The rest of our furniture came from garage sales (two more dining room chairs) or as hand me downs from relatives.
When my salary increased and we had a little extra money, we chose NOT to upgrade our furniture. Why? Children.
While our children are cute and adorable, and we love them endlessly, they are little terrors when it comes to furniture. I think all kids are made that way; it is in their fiber to be rough on furniture. [Editor: Yes, I can attest to that!]
That $25 table? It has a veneer finish and veneer trim around the entire perimeter. Starting from about three years of age, my son began meticulously picking at the veneer trim lining the perimeter. Now, nearly 4 years later, he has succeeded at picking it all off.
When I was 23 and had just earned my B.A. I moved back home for 2 years before I went to graduate school. I took my tax refund that year and bought a brand new matching dresser, desk, and bunk beds, thinking I would use them until I moved out and then I would save them for my future children. My children now use that dresser, and my son uses the desk and bed. Just recently I discovered that he had drawn all over the sides and top of the desk. Luckily, most of it was in pencil, so he was able to erase it, but in some parts he did dig through the wood.
When I was pregnant for my son, our first child, my mom’s gift to us was a brand new crib. Looking back, I should have bought a used crib and deposited the rest in a college fund. We bought a beautiful crib that would later convert into a bed. The top sides of the crib were thick, so they couldn’t accommodate a plastic teething cover. Yes, I think you can see where this is going. My son, ever the picker, even as a baby, actually picked and bit at the wood enough to remove a small chunk of it. So much for a family heirloom.
One of our rare splurges was a brand new couch before we had kids. Knowing that we would soon have kids, I made sure to buy a brown couch. Luckily we did because that couch has seen some serious action from kids spilling juice on it to being sick on it. When my daughter was about 17 months old, she discovered she could reach into the soft arm of the sofa and pull out the stuffing—handfuls of it at a time. Like I said earlier, I just think destroying furniture is in a kid’s DNA.
If you have kids, you are probably nodding your head as you read this. If you don’t have kids yet, you may be thinking that your children will be different and not do things like this. Maybe they won’t do the exact same things, but they will do something to the furniture. Do yourself a favor and consider buying used or accepting hand-me-downs, at least until the kids are older.
We plan to move out of our apartment and into a house in the next few years. By then, our youngest will be about three. At that point we will start furnishing our house with newer pieces, but we might just wait for the really nice furniture until that magical time after the kids leave the house but before they start to have their own children.