Smartstuff Furniture – Paula Deen Kids Guys Collection
Timeless furniture that is safe, functional and made to last a lifetime
by Marcus Bloom | 13 June 2014
My family and I live in a wonderful three bedroom home, and up until 2 months ago, my two children each had their own room. But with the recent addition of a new baby girl, we found ourselves in a spacing predicament. Due to late night feedings and fussiness, our baby girl needed her own room, which meant our older two kids would need to move in together. Because of the size of the room, we knew right away that we wanted and needed a bunk bed for them, as taking away my son’s bedroom play area wasn’t an option. And because we’re moving not only a second child but also an assortment of her possessions in as well, it was important to find additional furniture pieces that were functional, could double as storage, and would grow with them as their tastes changed.
As a family, we spent hours wandering furniture stores, testing out bed after bed. My biggest concern with a bunk bed was the safety – my oldest is five and rolls around non-stop in his sleep. Several of the bunk beds we looked at had large gaps on the side that would allow for his little legs to hang through. The second downfall with bunk beds that we looked at were the vertical ladders – all of which we felt were too steep for our young kids.
Beyond the safety, quality of furniture was another problem we found. If you’ve ever thought “they don’t build stuff like they used to”, it’s a sentiment that’s very true in the furniture world. For me, it was incredibly important to find furniture that’s going to grow with my children, furniture that’s going to last them until they’re ready to move out of the house, and furniture that I can hold on to for when my grandkids come to stay. In other words, I wanted furniture that isn’t disposable (unlike so many other things we buy today).
But my requirements didn’t stop there… design and function were also key considerations while I was shopping. When two kids are sharing a room, space is limited, which means large pieces of furniture need to multi-task: appealing to both my and my children’s taste and yet serving a functional purpose.
I know it seems like I expect a lot from furniture, but I’m a firm believer in buying something great once, not something mediocre multiple times. In the end, after all of my research and a huge amount of furniture browsing, I found one furniture brand that fit the bill: Smartstuff by Universal Furniture. Interestingly enough, it’s the the same company that made several pieces of furniture I already owned, as Universal Furniture is known for their quality furniture for everything from bedroom sets to dining tables. Up until a few months ago, however, I had no idea that they also had a children’s line. Smartstuff by Universal Furniture offers furniture for kids with the same craftsmanship you’ll find from the Universal line, but as the name implies, the pieces are filled with genius design additions that your kids will love.
I personally chose pieces from the Smartstuff by Universal Furniture Paula Deen Kids Guys Collection, but I should note that what I have to say about the quality and function is seen across all of the Smartstuff collections. Which pieces you pick really comes down to styling preference when choosing the right collection for your home. With the Paula Deen Kids Guys Collection, I loved the distressed molasses wood used in the pieces and the classic design and lines. As for the pieces I chose, I picked the twin-over-twin bunk bed with trundle bed underneath, the books and stuff bookcase and Henry’s desk with matching hutch and chair. Three months later, and I couldn’t be more happy with my selections.
First, let’s look at safety, because no matter how great your kid’s furniture looks or how well it’s made, if your children aren’t safe when they’re using it, it will never fit the bill. With Smartstuff by Universal Furniture, you’re getting the safest children’s furniture on the market, as it meets all the safety requirements required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). They then take safety a step further with what they call smart safety. Smart safety includes safety features you may not think of including lead-free finishes, softened edges and corners, cord management, built-in drawer stops, elimination of entrapment hazards, anti-tip hardware and metal dowels. Ensuring your kid’s safety, all products are rigorously tested and approved before ever going to market, and after three months of use, my kids have yet to suffer any injuries in any way from their new furniture (despite their incredibly high activity levels).
The second reason I chose Smartstuff by Universal Furniture was because of the quality construction – it’s designed specifically for your children but made with the same high standards found in the adult furniture. The drawers are finished with English dovetails with screwed-in back panels – you won’t find anything held together by glue on your Smartstuff furniture. Heavy duty drawer guides ensure an easy open and close but, as my kids have tested, can withstand the occasional climber as well. My kids have jumped, climbed, kicked and sat on the furniture in places that aren’t meant to be and the furniture has not seen a dent. And believe me when I say that if Smartstuff furniture can survive my kids, it can survive not only other kids, but likely a natural disaster as well.
I’ve talked about safety and quality (which hands down set smartstuff furniture apart from other furniture I looked at), but what takes Smartstuff furniture a step further are the smart functions. This is where the furniture gets fun and it shows the ingenuity of Smartstuff designers. Specifically on the Paula Deen Kids Guys Collection, there are little things that make life easier for the kids. For example, on the top bunk, there’s a matching wooden tray (removable if you wish), on which your kids can store their favorite toys at night (my son loves using the tray for his Lego creations). On any given night you can find a lego racecar, a technic robot or even a group of lego guys on our top bunk, but it’s perfect because it keeps them out of the bed at night and safe from him rolling over and crushing them.
Down below in the trundle bed, there’s not only extra sleeping space for when friends are over, but there are storage trays as well, which we’ve put to good use for extra bedding, toys and shoe boxes. It keeps everything organized, adds a ton of extra storage space in the room, and the drawers slide out easily, quickly revealing what’s below without the need to dig through a large collection of things.
But the smart design doesn’t stop there – Henry’s Desk and Hutch from the Guy’s Collection are both filled with smart functions as well. One of my favorite features is the built-in night light that has three light levels and is turned on and controlled by touch. It’s the perfect nightlight without any cords or switches to clutter the space, built directly into the hutch, and it looks great at night as well. The desk also features a full-length pull-out tray where my kids keep their laptop and iPad when they’re not them. To keep their electronics charged, there’s a charging station at the back of the desk which allows you to back the desk up directly to a wall without having to crawl underneath or reach behind in order to plug and unplug electronics. The hutch seamlessly secures to the desk and features a cork board, which every kid’s room needs. We use it for hanging photos and displaying artwork, and above the cork board we use the ample amount of space to neatly store favorite books, stuffed animals, and of course, my son’s collection of Star Wars Lego Ships.
And while we’re on the topic of storage, I highly recommend the bookcase from the Paula Deen Guy’s Collection as well. It’s not overly large, so even if you don’t have a ton of space it can still fit in your room, but if your kids love books as mine do, it’s perfect for keeping their books organized. And as I found, the bookcase can serve not only as a freestanding piece of furniture anywhere in the room, but it fits very well next to the end of the bunk bed as well, acting almost as if the bunk bed came with integrated end storage.
Other smart functions that can be found on Smartstuff furniture include built-in reading lights, charging stations, hidden compartments, flip down drawers and an easy drawer removal system. The innovative add-ons not only make life a little easier for us parents and for our kids, but the organization eliminates clutter and makes teaching your kids how to keep their room clean so much easier, as everything has its own place. I love the Paula Deen Guys Collection so much that I’m already looking ahead to finishing our girl’s room with the Paula Deen Gals Collection. One of the pieces – the Sliding Cheval Mirror – a full length mirror that slides open to reveal hooks and storage for jewelry, hairbands and clips and other accessories. And if you have a girl in your home, you know this is a dream come true. And that’s really what I’ve come to discover about all the Smartstuff furniture. As wonderful as it looks at first sight, when you dig deeper, you see how intelligent the design is as well.
I told you at the start of this story that I wanted furniture that was safe, stylish and functional, and with the Paula Deen Kids Guys Collection, that’s exactly what I found. It’s timeless, it’s safe, and it’s the perfect combination of comfortable design and innovative features. And the best part? It’s affordable. There wasn’t another brand that came close to matching the craftsmanship and design of the Smartstuff furniture at anywhere near the same price, which makes the purchase decision even easier. If you’re planning a new kid’s room or are just looking to upgrade your current kid’s furniture, I highly recommend putting Smartstuff at the top of your list. I did, and my kids and I couldn’t be happier with the choice.