Planning on Having Kids? Save the Nice Furniture for After They Grow Up

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.

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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.

What has been your experience?  Do you have nice, new furniture even though you have small children, or are you waiting until they grow up a bit more?

About Melissa

Melissa blogs at Mom's Plans about learning to live a fulfilling life on less. She has quit her day job and now blogs and writes, in addition to taking care of her three kids.

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  1. My daughter is a little Picasso she loves art: painting, coloring, you name it! Unfortunately her preferred canvas is…our couch. :(

  2. I disagree. I wish my mum hadn’t kept my furniture for me. It’s old, tatty and falls apart. We would be able to get much better furniture from a skip than the tat she saved for us.

    Don’t be a compulsive hoarder of furniture. My mum now gets offended when I say, ‘No mum I would not like the old, falling apart bed that squeaks like a mouse the size of a house.”

    Yes you may think I’m ungrateful but when it comes down to it, furniture is very easy to get hold of these days with sites like freecycle and Gumtree or even cheap furniture places like the dreaded Ikea. I don’t want a knockoff that my mums been saving for 30 years. In fact I dread helping her move because of all the things she ‘saved’ for me.

    Ok if it’s family heirloom and well made then it might be worth saving, but if your anything like my mum then please, please please don’t force your child to have your unwanted junk when you get some new things.

  3. My son never wrecked things, furniture included. That said, I think that was some sort of fluke! His little pals could sure be destructive.

    We did find, though, that when we bought cheaper furniture it just fell apart, whereas better furniture can stand the rigors of a growing child.

    • Sometimes you get what you pay for! But if you can find a good used piece of furniture then you may get the best of both worlds – you don’t spend too much and you get sturdy furniture that you didn’t spend an arm and a leg on if the kids wreck it.

      And every kid is different. You never know which will decide to draw on a couch one day though. Or have that stomach virus hit.

  4. So funny! Great article.

  5. I can certainly identify with your post! My husband and I purchased kitchen chairs covered with light beige FABRIC before we had kids, and it promptly got all stained up once our oldest started sitting in them. When they got so nasty we had to do something about them, we re-upholstered them in white vinyl from JoAnn Fabrics. After 2 more years of punishment, they look almost good as new! Everything wipes up off of that covering, well, except maybe not markers. 😉