November 28, 2006

One Dad's Search For A Kid's Table


Thanks to an email last week, I had the opportunity to reflect on something I'm thankful for: not being in competition with Ikea for anything. DT reader Geoff [aka The Boston Twin Wrangler], who has been shopping for a kid-sized play table:

...something they can sit at and draw and do whatever it is that little kids will want to do at a table for the next couple of years. The standard height of most these tables is 18" to 20" and I'm wondering how long that will be good for. It's more a question of how long this table will be useful to my girls.

Just thought I'd share the options that I've found. I'm sure you've found others as well.

Table finds--his, mine, and soon, yours, I hope--are below:

Most of our friends have the IKEA table, which apparently is really lightweight, and it slides all around on hardwood floors. Granted, I'm sure some rubber on each leg would solve that. But the price is certainly right. IKEA L√ĄTT table and 2 chairs $20 IKEA MINNEN table $40 plus $20 chairs IKEA KRITTER table $35 plus $20 chairs IKEA SVALA table and 2 chairs, $40

OneStepAhead has a neat looking one, with bold colors ($129) and it slides all together nicely. But I noticed when watching my 19 month olds play at a friend's table that they enter the chairs from the side-- obviously they don't know how to scooch themselves in. Which would make this setup a bit more difficult. Plus, you can't add any more chairs, so that's also not good.

An awesome wide variety of super cool and not inexpensive table/chair sets at sparkability. I saw the P'kolino Play Table (above, $989) at Magic Beans [it's not on their site, only in-store] and thought it looked fantastic. The Ooba Play Table ($350) also looks particularly nice. The playfulness of the Color BB2 Set ($420) is also nice. And the Svan set ($199 with three chairs and a stool) looks like a high quality version of the Ikea stuff, which makes sense, both being Swedish and all. I also particularly like the OFFI Snap table $129 and chair $79. It has a kid sensibility and is not outrageously priced.
The kid has an Ikea Lack side table and a handmade chair from granddad, the total cost of which is probably $1,000,012.99. Like a lot of these options, it's small, really a different use/experience than something with a big play surface like the P'kolino or the great Argington Fundy play table ($399), or the ducduc PJ, both of which have massive storage built-in, too.

Another direction to look at is the Zid Zid Marrakech table ($279, on sale at olliebollen), which is even lower, hand-painted by Moroccan artisans, and comes with embroidered floor cushions instead of chairs. They're not on sale, but Design Public has other design and cushion options, too.

There's a whole lot more out there, of course, which was not really the case just a couple of years ago when the kid arrived. That's when my own heart was set on finding an impossible-to-find classic, Nanna Ditzel's Trissen Toadstool table & stools. Now, as it turns out, those badboys are on sale, 40% off, at DWR, with free shipping ($198 for the table, $118/ea for stools). It feels like we've come full circle. No pun intended, I swear.


A milk crate is just about the perfect height for a kid's chair. And they're free, sort of.

I went with the Ikea option. However, if I had a bit more money, I would have instead gotten tables and chairs from Community Playthings.

Particularly, they answer Geoff's question about table height and ages, and offer a variety. (Check the sizing chart.)

Clearly, they're designed and priced for classrooms, but they're built that sturdy too. And hey, they're cheaper than the (admittedly awesome) P'kolino stuff.

If you're in Boston, they've got these chairs in the playspace in the Children's Museum, and they're really nice. No sharp corners, very sturdy. The museum has both the "Woodcrest" (ugh, now there's a horrible brand name) chairs and the "Me-Do-It" chairs for smaller kids.

Shame it's too late for Molded Plywood Week.

{yeah, I'm pulling this linklist together, and it's pretty obvious that every week is molded plywood week around here. have a drink, stay a while! -ed.]

Svan has a neat little set, but it's not very high design.

[well-designed, just with classically Scandinavian restraint. and some help from the spirit of Alvar Aalto. -ed.]

Pricey, but interesting :)

we have ikea's mammut for our 2-year-old twin boys. i recently added these bentwood stools from target (much cheaper online ($6.99!) than at the store. they come in white too and also a taller size). they look good and are an inch or two lower than the mammut chairs, which allows the boys feet to touch the ground at this age. I use them as stepstools in the bathrooms too:

also, i recently came across the offi rockabye storage rocker at the Sears website, of all places, for the cheapest if've seen. i know it won't work well at a table, but just thought I'd share:

Jennifer Delonge Inc. just came out with a nice table/stools set
( They are minimal, like the svan set, but seem sturdy and chunky, like they could take a lot of abuse.

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