So you’re going to have a baby. The little stick has turned pink or blue or whatever color your home pregnancy test turns to indicate that yes indeedy, in less than a year, you will be the proud parents of a bundle of joy. Congratulations.
Your next purchases will probably be successive volumes of books on pregnancy, baby names, childbirth, baby’s first year, and child-rearing. Then, at some point in the next nine months, you will undertake a major project commonly referred to as ”doing the nursery.“
There is very little about parenting that is undertaken casually, and ”doing the nursery“ is no exception. While in theory, all you really need for the 7-pound, 18-inch sausage you will soon be bringing home from the hospital is a safe place for him/her to sleepI have friends who lined a large Tupperware storage unit with baby blankets and used that as a bassinethardly anyone adheres to the minimalist theory. In fact, most parents often go a bit overboard when it comes to making a place for their progeny. Maybe it’s hormonal.
One minute you have a 12-foot-by-14-foot pocket of space the two of you have used for an office, a work-out room, or a media center; the next it’s a precious little nest, sunny yellow with pastel bunny borders, hand-painted Beatrix Potter murals, and a set of all-white furniture.
Here’s an important reminder. Yes, you are going to have a baby, but you won’t have a baby very long. In the scheme of things, if your child remains with you until his/her 18th birthday, the baby part of that time period is as tiny as the baby’s itty bitty fingers and toes. Before you know it, the baby is a toddler, then a child, then a preteen, then a teen. (By that time, the door to the kid’s room will be permanently shut to you, the evil parental unit, so it won’t matter how it’s decorated, as long as it’s not with death skulls and swastikas.)
That crib that looked soooo huge when first assembled will, in the blink of an eye, be outgrown. So will the changing table and that precious little chest you bought for the baby blankets; and the toddler-sized rocker; and the night stand in the shape of a baby lamb; and the cute little mirror with cows jumping over the moon.
As hard as it may be to look any further down the road than baby’s first tooth, wise parents will want to do some advance planning when it comes to outfitting the room that will be their little prince or princess’s kingdom for the next couple of decades. It’s not cheap, but increasingly, manufacturers are assisting in the long-range plan by offering furniture lines that kids grow into, not out of.
”Better vendors are now doing baby rooms furnished so that all you have to do is buy a big bed when the child is ready for it,“ says Shirley Martin, manager of A Child’s Room and Especially Baby. ”You really only have to have two things in a baby’s room: a crib and a changing table. If you make the investment in a well-manufactured crib, you will have it until you decide to get rid of it. A changing table is more adaptable; it’s not just a changing table anymore.“
A better investment than a simple changing table, for instance, is a chest of drawers with a removable cushion on top, or the popular baby station-caddy, patented and manufactured by Ragazzi in cherry, oak, or ”antico“ (faded white antique) finishes. A baby caddy has three or four conventionally sized drawers on one side of the chest, and a long, deep drawer on the other with space for baby diapers, wipes, lotion, powder, ointment, and the many other accouterments that collect and multiply in a nursery.
Martin points out that many cribs, with the lowering of one side of the bars, can be converted into a youth bed for a couple of years. Depending on the size of your child, most children will need a big bed by the time they are 5, if not before.
According to Martin, children usually start caring about the look of their rooms by the time they start preschool and begin seeing other children’s rooms. As part of its launch of the E.A. Kids furniture line, Ethan Allen conducted focus-group discussions with its target-audience kids. The most unanimous requests were for an extra bed for sleepovers and plenty of space to store their stuff.
Bunk beds and trundle beds are very popular among children, especially boys. Loft units make the most of limited space, with two beds and storage units, such as bookcases or chests of drawers, under the upper bed.
The My Room line, carried at A Child’s Room, touts itself as furniture for the growing years, with every piece designed to mix, match, and combine with a broad selection of companion pieces. Buyers can start their toddler off with a single unit, then add on vertically or horizontally as the child grows. For instance, begin with a two-drawer stacking dresser for baby, add a three-drawer dresser as the child’s clothing storage needs grow, then top it off with a two-door cabinet. Stacking cabinets can start on the floora safety-conscious nod to toddlersthen be placed atop a chest to take advantage of vertical space.
My Room furniture is made from ash hardwood, hand-assembled, and available in white, honey, frost, and natural finishes.
Another popular line among children and their parents is Maine Cottage, which features classic pieces with whimsical design touches. The line comes in 40 different colors and sports names like the Henry, Nellie, Lizzie, and Julianna beds, all named after real people. Maine Cottage is available at A Child’s Room and includes kitchen, dining room, and living room furniture.
E.A. Kids, carried at the two local Ethan Allen stores, is designed to last through all the stages of a child’s life, including the Curious George toddler stage, the clumsy young child, and the rambunctious 7- to 11-year-old. The E.A. Kids line has been tested to meet current safety standards for tipping; as an added measure, E.A. Kids have made a tipping restraint available to secure furniture to the wall. On selected items, tuff-a-nuff topshigh-pressure laminatesare designed to blend with the furniture’s wood components while providing a durable surface that better withstands normal everyday use. The surface resists nicks and dents and can be easily cleaned with a solution of warm water and mild dishwashing detergent. Ethan Allen publishes a 60-page E.A. Kids catalogue, or parents may view the products on the company’s Web site at http://www.ethanallen.com.
If you’d prefer to let your fingers do the walking, both Pottery Barn and Eddie Bauer have introduced a line of children’s furniture and furnishings, including bedding, wall hangings, carpets, and much more. Themes aboundsweet floral, my little chickadee, dreaming, sail away. It’s enough to make a grown-up revisit her inner child.
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