Jan 172013

teen room carved wood headboard

wood armoire for girls room furniture

Choosing the right material is one of three essential parts of furniture selection. Wood is almost the only material used in historic furniture and is still the top choice for kids’ room furniture today.

Before selecting any wood furniture (especially for kids’ use), a little education on wood is recommended—labels, types, characteristics, and pros/cons.

Industry Labels

Knowing components of wood furniture can help you determine value. Have you seen labels that say “solid” or “genuine” wood? Can be confusing unless you know just what they mean.

The furniture industry labels are standardized so let’s take the mystery out:

  • Solid Wood – all exposed surfaces are made of wood without any veneer or plywood. Unexposed surfaces (ex. drawer backs and sides) may use other woods.
  • Genuine Wood – exposed parts are made of wood veneer over plywood, hardwood, or wood composite.
  • Wood – none of the parts are made of plastic, metal, or other materials.
  • Combination – two or more woods used and both must be named.
  • Man-made or Imitation – printed or molded to look like wood.

roll top desk for kids study area

Types and Characteristics of Wood

Knowing type and characteristics of wood also helps you determine furniture value. Before the 1900’s, most furniture was made from walnut, oak, mahogany, rosewood, and fruitwoods, which have become more scarce. Common woods now used are ash, pine, and poplar.

Since there are too many types to cover in this post, check these websites for more specific information: Furniture Woods, Guide to Furniture Woods, Wood Types.

Knowing characteristics of wood—hardness, color, grain, relative cost—is more important than type and can be the deciding factor in your choice.

Hardness – Wood is classified as either hardwood (flowering trees) noted for strength and toughness, or softwood (conifers) noted for lighter weight, workability, and lower cost.

Color – Some woods have distinctive color, varying from dark purple (Rosewood) to a green tinge (Poplar) with many beautiful tones in between.

Grain – Every species has it’s own particular grain with texture and pattern determined by cell structure and growth. Grain can be straight, swirled, curly, rippled, and mottled, with knots or eyes.

Relative Cost – Wood cost is determined by availability and type. Hardwoods are generally more expensive than softwoods; the more scarce and exotic, the higher the price.

contemporary wooden stool for kids room

  • Can last for generations when well built
  • Many wood varieties available, hardwood and soft
  • Wood can take abuse, be refinished and repaired
  • Finishes well with paint, stain, oil or wax
  • Can be used alone or combined with other materials
  • Adds warmth to any room
  • Price isn’t always an indication of quality
  • Well-built wood furniture can be costly
  • Wood doesn’t like water—and kids do.

contemporary baby cradle made of wood

Wood Furniture Selection Tips

It takes more than price and finish color to select kids’ furniture. Characteristics plus pros and cons of each wood type should be part of your decision. Use this list of furniture selection tips to guide you in choosing the right furniture for your kids’ rooms.

  • Look at your child’s age
  • Determine the intended purpose
  • Decide how long you plan to keep the furniture
  • Verify wood type(s) used
  • Look for construction methods used
  • Make sure joints are solid and secure—no wobbling or racking
  • Look at hardware used in assembly
  • Examine the finish for durability and permanence
  • Determine how much abuse the furniture will have to take
  • Find out how much maintenance will be required
  • Decide if you want practical or fashionable, classic or contemporary

train track table for kids play room furniture

It’s the furniture that makes a space useful…..it also makes it personal. Hopefully the selection tips and information given here will help you select the right furniture for the right purpose, perfectly suited to your family’s needs.

Need professional assistance in your kids’ room design? Contact KidSpace Interiors. We can help.


Watch for the Kids’ Room Furniture Essentials {Materials} design basics posts on the following topics:


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