When we began the process of prototyping our kids beds, one of our co-founders was still very much in pre-schooler land. It was important to her that the design of Plyhome furniture supported actual life with kids: complete with the joys of sleep deprivation, toilet training, messy bedrooms, musical beds and winter lurgies. All this ensured a unique perspective to the design of our kids beds - so although our junior bed looks beautiful, the bonus is that it comes with a whole host of parenting features built in: six in fact. In this article, Co-Founder Anna Gilhooly explains our design:
1. Get 5 more minutes rest:
When you're going through sleep ‘challenges’ (fact: actual agony), 5 minutes is everything. My youngest was a 'challenging' sleeper for a decent few years so I know this world well. You can slot a book in between the guard rail and the mattress to surprise your child in the morning - it’ll be one of the first things they see. Face the cover towards your child, or…(librarians look away now)…if it's a favourite book and you know there's a certain page they love, open the book to that page then slot the book in to encourage morning reading and 5 minutes more slumber*. Like I said, book lovers, avert your eyes! But when you’re in the middle of sleep challenges, extra sleep beats a pristine book spine any day.
2. Supports night-time bathroom training:
When going through the mental challenge that can be night-time bathroom training with your pre-schooler, access in and out of bed can become a major thing. Picture this: you've got the sheet protector, you've done the upgrade to night nappies and your child is actually ready to lose them altogether. You're in the zone, ready to support your child in navigating bathroom independence**. The last thing you want is an obstacle like their bed being too high for them to get in and out of easily. You're trying to build confidence here! A minute’s delay can be make or break. This is why we designed our Plyhome Junior Bed to be lower to the ground. It suits the little humans who sleep in it.
3. Teaches them how to not fall out of bed:
As adults, we can quickly forget having to learn this lesson. In a cot, babies get 4 walls to push away from if they manage to migrate to the edge of the mattress. It's absolutely no wonder that kids then fall out when transitioned into their big kid’s bed. Unnecessary night wakings aren't awesome. Preventing them for both you and your kids is. Exactly why we created a built in guardrail on our Junior Bed. Here's why it's so good:
- Gentle flex. Like any parent who has been elbowed/pushed/kicked by a bed sharing restless sleeping kid, I know how some kids can sleep like they're mid marathon. The guard rail is strength tested in all the important places. It stops kids falling out of bed, but does so with design sympathy towards how kids actually sleep. Flaying elbows and all.
- Excellent place to stash their favourite book for the morning read (see above)
- Excellent peekaboo potential. Cutest way to say good morning, ever.
- Excellent at keeping 5 teddies and 3 cars in the bed if your kids do that too.
4. Designed for asthma kids:
When we designed the Plyhome junior collection, asthma was a factor in the design of our cot and beds. My kids are some of the 15% of NZ kids that get it, and one of my children also has a severe dust mite allergy to the point where it can induce anaphylaxis (he carries an EpiPen everywhere he goes). Both asthma and dust mites are influences by airflow and humidity. It's why we’ve maximised airflow to the mattress (to reduce dampness). It’s why we’ve designed the legs so it’s easy to vaccum underneath the bed (reduce dust mites). And on the subject of vacuuming, it’s why we made sure that despite being super strong, the furniture could still be moved easily for vacuuming (reduce dust mites). It’s also why there are no upholstered surfaces on the frame (reduce dust mites). It’s why we’ve selected the finishes that we have (reduce allergens). To read more about advice on choosing the best bed option for kids with asthma/allergies - read what Consumer NZ say.
5. It's strong: really, really strong
Ever actually looked at the weight tolerance of kids beds? It’s generally not very impressive at all. Usually, if you’re over 100kg's, you can’t even think about reading bedtime stories. Not cool. Rips’ engineering background came in very handy for strength tolerances. Explains why when we tried to break the bed, we ran out of big blokes to test it at 570kg’s. Strength and durability performance were important to use because our furniture is made for actual kids. Even if they do think they’re batman. It's also made for parents too, because musical beds is a super fun game ;)
6. Supports the 2-minute bedroom tidy:
Preschoolers attract stuff. Lots of it. The rest of their room may be a disaster zone but their bed is easy to keep tidy. Either tuck the duvet right in for a streamlined look, or leave it draped over the bed with the top 1/3 folded down, so that the top fold naturally sits where the guardrail starts (this is a great way to show off cool sheets by the way!). Either way, it's a styled and contained space.
All up, not just a pretty face.
The Plyhome Junior Bed is indeed beautiful, but that beauty goes beyond the surface, with the parent-driven furniture design and engineering principals. It's designed for kids, but with a mum's perspective.
*Obviously, we’re not saying to leave your kids unsupervised! But an 5 extra minutes resting your eyes and listening to your kid(s) happily look at a book is one of the best ways to start the day.
**For actual professional toilet training advice, head to an expert like Laura Morely.
It took a long time for us to settle on the material we've chosen for Plyhome furniture. We wanted something beautiful but strong. Something that would play subtle background decor role for all styles of NZ homes - villa to contemporary apartment and everything in between. Our wish-list was brutal, but we found everything we needed with European Birch Plywood. Here's an overview of why it made the cut.
Plyhome is a proud Hutt Business. We're surrounded by some seriously impressive and world leading tech innovators out here in the Hutt, and they're a pretty humble bunch too: more the "heads down and lets secure some global contracts shall we?" approach as opposed to shouting about it with massive advertising campaigns.
We feel right at home here. So with all this in mind, we were thrilled to be asked by Irwin Munro to take part in the Hutt City STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Manufacturing) Festival, which is all about building the Hutt Valley into one of New Zealand’s leading export and economic growth centres. STEMM gave us the chance to showcase some of our prototypes for the first time and give a few talks to people about what we were up to and why.
Simon saw our pop-up then interviewed us in a fake bedroom in an empty retail space, as you do! What started out as an article for our local paper was then picked up by Stuff's national Business page, and we are very grateful for the early exposure this gave us. Thanks Simon! The resulting article is here for you to read.