Don’t Buy the White Couch: A Furniture-Buying Guide for New Parents

girl on white couchWhen I was visibly pregnant with my first baby, I bought living room furniture. Which included a couch and a love seat. Almost 6 years later, I still cannot believe that they let a visibly pregnant woman walk out of the store with two white couches. White.

I was visibly pregnant with my second baby when my two-and-a-half year-old took a red crayon to those white couches.

Let me save you from yourself by sharing my mistakes.

  1. Accept hand-me-downs. Free furniture! Just don’t forget to pay it forward when you can!
  2. Buy used furniture. Less expensive. Already “shabby.”
  3. Lower your expectations. My $80 Craiglist table and chairs needed some screws tightened and new upholstery on the seats. There were scratches. And a few water rings. It wasn’t perfect. But, when you’re using it to serve dinner, to play with play doh, to make homemade Valentine’s with a metric ton of Elmer’s glue … It. Was. Perfect.
  4. Avoid sharp corners. And glass. My coffee table was an upholstered storage cube. I recently upgraded to a sturdy wood table. In an oval shape. You can’t completely avoid the mid-afternoon musical performance that requires your preschooler to stand on your table. But you can avoid broken glass.
  5. Buy a carpet shampooer. It works for carpet, rugs, and upholstery. It was the secret to getting that red crayon off my white couches. And the pureed beets out of my white carpet. My house has far too much white.
  6. Consider plastic. My dining room table has “accent chairs.” Which are actually just easily wiped down plastic chairs for the kids.
  7. Avoid kid beds. This is a money-saving tip. Get an inexpensive crib and then go with a basic full-sized bed. Toddler beds are unnecessary and cribs can get SO pricey.
  8. Look for kid-friendly brands. LoveSac makes sectionals that are easily rearranged and, best of all, the covers can be easily removed and machine washed. If you are going to buy the kid furniture, consider something like Nugget.
  9. Again: don’t buy white!
  10. A bit of paint or wood stain can make any old or used piece look brand new.
  11. Shop the sales. Black Friday is coming, and the deals are amazing!
  12. Remember: someday you can buy all the fancy, glass-filled, sharp-edged, light-colored furniture you want. Toddlerhood is just not the time.
Britt is a former nomad, who happily put down roots in the Kansas City suburbs to start her own family close to her parents and siblings. After three professional degrees and a brief stint as an elementary teacher with Teach for America, Britt now spends 40 hours a week working in the legal world. In what little free time she has left over, she pretends to do yoga, installs toilets, cans vegetables, quilts, entertains family and friends, and seeks adventure around KC and beyond with her two favorite boys. Though she and her husband, David, are new to parenting their 8 month old son, Benja, they already agree that they love him more than coffee. They just not-so-secretly hope that no one ever makes them choose between the two.