Versatility is the key

Parents should plan their children's rooms before making any buying decisions, writes John Cremer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 9:40am

With space at a premium in most homes, there is demand for children's furniture that is functional, flexible, and offers storage options. This makes modular children's beds a popular choice since they can be adapted as needs change.

"The basic module can be turned into a low-rise or mid-rise bed, higher or lower bunk beds, or loft beds of different heights," says Moira Roberts of Kokoon Beds and Bedding. There is also scope to create an L-shaped configuration, and the accompanying range of furniture is designed to maximise every square foot of space.

"Our storage options include a two-drawer cabinet that fits under a low-rise bed plus cupboards and wardrobes," Roberts says. "Flexible shelving can start with a basic box unit, which you can then expand by adding drawers, cupboard doors and a desk as children get older."

Roberts says solid wooden furniture is a better choice than medium-density fibre board. The latter is generally not as hard-wearing and uses chemicals in the veneers to bind the constituent materials together.

Lucy McLennan, marketing manager of Bumps to Babes, says versatility is the key for many customers buying children's furniture and that careful planning pays off. A cot can have "extended life" if convertible into a cot bed. Bunks can become single beds or vice versa. And "high sleepers" create the option of handy under-bed storage space for toys, plastic containers of out-of-season clothes, or an extra sleep-over trundle bed.

"For the furniture we stock, every design decision has been made with children's safety and the end-user in mind," McLennan says.

With children's bedrooms often doubling as a playroom and, later, a study, it helps to have different "zones". That is easier when wall shelving or free-standing storage units keep things tidy. Additional shelves can always help out as toy cubbies, to store boxes, or as a place for special treasures on hooks below.

"Plan the room before you make any buying decisions," McLennan says. "[There are] different styles and ranges to accommodate growing families, so consider options like the junior extending bed, co-ordinated nursery furniture, desks and chairs."

New styles are added, but it is important to get the basics right.

"If you initially buy quality, it is easy to change the style when you update the room," McLennan says. "It simply takes new bedding, soft furnishings, or an additional piece from a co-ordinated range."

The aim at Indigo Living is to offer products that are safe, flexible and durable. It is important to set standards by adopting international guidelines and taking the time to understand what parents and children really want.

"Even though there is no law in Hong Kong to control safety aspects of all items for kids, our products comply with the international regulations," says Indigo Living's sales director of retail, Sally Leung.

The focus is on collections which maximise storage options and can "grow with the child". The best-selling Noah collection includes single and bunk beds, a toy box, seven-drawer chest, desk, bookcase and under-bed storage unit.

The Phoebe is also versatile, but at a lower price, and the Charlotte range, including a bed, dressing table, stool, mirror and bedside table is designed for the "little princess" .

"We add new ranges every year, but durability is one of the key factors," Leung says.

"What we offer has to be right for active kids, so the designs generally have rounded corners and edges to avoid painful knocks. You can mix and match units to create the combination you need."