One of the Best Couches for Kids Is a Modular Design That Converts Into a Fort
It’s built for play, snacks, and naps.
Updated Aug 9, 2023 10:18 AM
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This story was part of Sofa Week, our seven-day stretch of, you guessed it, sofas. After years spent styling, sitting on, and searching for the best of the best—from bespoke designs to rare under-$500 gems—we’re compiling our couch knowledge in one comfy spot.
If you grew up in the early aughts, you likely have vivid memories of hanging out on a cartoon-covered blob. We’re happy to report that the best couches for kids nowadays are no longer limited to those garishly hued numbers. In fact, today’s kid-friendly furniture could easily be mistaken for miniature love seats, and they’re durable, too. While we know of a few designer hacks to make adult-size furniture childproof (hello, FiberSeal), isn’t there something special about providing a designated spot for toddlers and tweens, whether for snacking, reading, or keying up a good old-fashioned puppet show? Besides, while our list of the best couches for kids varies greatly in shape (we’re talking beanbag sofas and modular foam that looks more like building blocks), none should cramp your interior style.
- Best for playtime: Brentwood Home Play Couch
- Best for movie nights: West Elm Kids Flip Floor Sleeper
- Best for a reading nook: Crate & Kids Rattan Kids Twin Daybed
- Best for game rooms: Urban Outfitters Roma Sofa
- Best for sleepovers: Made Haru Sofa
- Best for all ages: Article Gabriola Ivory Bouclé Love Seat
Best for Playtime: Brentwood Home Play Couch
Material: Recycled polyester and nylon | Dimensions: Varies | Fill: High-density foam
What we like:
- 30-day risk-free trial
- Greenguard Gold certified
- 6 colorful covers that are removable and machine washable
- Made with vegetable-derived foam and petroleum-free fabrics
- On the pricier side
Why we chose it: A modular sofa with configurations limited only by your child’s imagination.
While Jill Singer of Sight Unseen enlisted the help of Keren and Thomas Richter of White Arrow to custom-make child-size foam building blocks (think: oversize rectangles, triangles, and cylinders) to outfit her family’s Hamptons basement, you can enjoy a similar setup right off the shelf with Brentwood Home’s Play Couch. Offering two more pieces than the cult-favorite Nugget, this set of six can come together in the shape of a classic couch, with back cushions and sheltered arms, or be configured into pretty much anything your child puts their mind to, though reviewers most often revere its seemingly endless fort possibilities.
Best for Movie Nights: West Elm Kids Flip Floor Sleeper
Material: Varies | Dimensions: 71-by-33-by-21.5 inches | Fill: Polyurethane foam
What we like:
- Adjustable to lay flat or sit upright
- Long enough to sit 3
- Heavy—60 pounds, to be exact
- Spot-clean only
Why we chose it: The slouchy silhouette of a beanbaglike floor pillow embodies that notion of cool and comfortable that will transition with your child.
Keep a floor sofa in the kids-only zone (like designer Hollie Velten-Lattrell did) as a crash pad for Disney marathons. While Velten-Lattrell’s original buy from Urban Outfitters is no longer available, this West Elm alternative is a pretty close second. Plan to plop it in front of a TV or projector screen for Saturday-morning cartoons or weekend movie nights (and if buttery popcorn happens to be the snack of choice, you can choose from a swath of performance fabrics, including distressed velvet, tweed, and washed canvas).
Best for a Reading Nook: Crate & Kids Rattan Kids Twin Daybed
Material: Rattan | Dimensions: 85-by-42-by-36 inches | Fill: N/A
What we like:
- Solid wood slats
- Adjustable iron legs (helpful if you have sloped floors!)
- Endless design possibilities, just add sheets and pillows
- You’ll need to supply the mattress
- Biggest option on the list
Why we chose it: It’ll fit a twin mattress or two couch cushions, so it’s easy to switch up the color or pattern of whatever sheets or duvet cover you swaddle it with.
Technically this is a daybed, but if you place enough pillows (to do double duty as back- and armrests), it’s worthy of our list of the best couches for kids. Keep a fully stacked library within reach and it’ll become an irresistible spot to snuggle up with their latest Scholastic find. And no harm is done if they doze off (it just so happens to be Heather Taylor’s children’s sleeping spot in their Laurel Canyon home). Plus the sturdy iron-base frame and legs won’t buckle if your child doesn’t exactly happen to have the best track record with the “no jumping on the bed” rule.
Best for Game Rooms: Urban Outfitters Roma Sofa
Material: Polyester, rubberwood, and plywood | Dimensions: 74.8-by-33.5-by-30 inches | Fill: Rayon foam
What we like:
- Trendy, wavy cut frame that feels whimsical and modern
- Tall leg height (nearly 7 inches) to easily slide and store stacks of board games under
- Spot-clean only
Why we chose it: An unexpected design that can hold its own in the same space as a table tennis tournament.
We may have only caught a glimpse of the Roma Sofa hanging out in the ultra-cool game room of a recent Studio DB–designed New Jersey beach house, but we can’t unsee it as a perfect hangout spot. The playful wavy wood frame adds a touch of whimsy, but the full two-seater offers deep, 26-inch cushions roomy enough for siblings, friends, and visitors alike. It’s an unexpected, kid-friendly find, but likely ideal for an older crowd.
Best for Sleepovers: Made Haru Sofa
Material: Polyester | Dimensions: 16-by-47-by-20 inches | Fill: Polyethylene
What we like:
- Mid-century angled wood legs
- Transitions from love seat to sofa bed
- The choice between velvet and canvas
- Long lead times (ships from the U.K.)
- Professional cleaning only
Why we chose it: This compact cutie unfolds from lounger to sofa bed in seconds.
This sofa might just be impossible to grow out of, as it’s a small space saver that’ll earn the approval of guests of any age. We first spotted the model in this attic–turned–kids’ room on England’s Kent coast, where it’s an essential part of the seat setup. Its first form is incredibly compact, taking up barely any square footage thanks to a 20-inch depth that’s still long enough to fit two kids, before extending out a full 71 inches, aka longer than a twin. Though we’d keep the back part up for a quasi-tufted headboard.
Best for All Ages: Article Gabriola Ivory Bouclé Love Seat
Material: Bouclé, solid wood | Dimensions: 31-by-64-by-34 inches | Fill: Foam
What we like:
- Solid wood frame (sturdy!)
- Removable covers and legs
- Covered in a low-absorption bouclé
- On the firmer side, rather than superplushy
Why we chose it: For a style that’ll grow with your kiddos (and that you can enjoy right along with them).
You don’t have to be 10 or younger to enjoy Article’s Gabriola love seat, and that’s exactly why it’s now one of our favorite kid couches. This is the kind of child-friendly sofa that has staying power—it’s large enough for parents or babysitters to enjoy throughout the younger years, and the compact silhouette is suitable for small spaces and little legs. It’s one of the very first pieces of furniture you’ll see when entering designer Erin Fetherston’s L.A. home; her front door opens up next to her kids’ playroom. Fetherston removed the slatted legs, which gives the Gabriola a superlow profile and makes it even easier for her three children to climb up and down from. (A smart tip: The legs can always go back on when the gang is older.)
On Our Radar
This sofa would be the perfect addition to any reading nook, and we’re not just saying that because the side arms feature a built-in pocket to keep your kiddo’s favorite books within close reach. The cushy foam base is wrapped up in stain-resistant fabrics and offers an angular silhouette perfect for sitting up on. And bonus: The middle can fold out into a sleeper for impromptu naps or playtime.
This floor sofa can be wrapped up in either a velvety performance fabric, nubby bouclé, or neutral twill that will easily transition from the toddler to tween years.
For a touch of whimsy and heirloom-level quality—we’re talking 100% cotton upholstery and solid wood legs—Maisonette’s made-to-order settee offers a storybook-like illustration pattern that feels fantastical but not too childish. Seriously, we can see your kids passing this one down to their children (and so on and so forth).
At a quick glance, you’d never guess this small sofa could be dismantled into a bed, lightweight poufs, ottomans, and even a puppet theater. Other review-backed perks: The velour cover is removable and machine washable, and the whole thing arrives in one vacuum-sealed package. Did we mention it’s less than $200?
Our Shopping Checklist
As they’re designed with little humans in mind, the best couches for kids are compact and low-profile, even sitting directly on the ground. Smaller dimensions make it easier for toddlers to crawl on and off safely, especially since playtime inevitably dissolves into roughhousing.
Spills and stains are bound to happen anytime kids are involved, which is why designers often pick out tight-patterned, textured, or dark fabrics for sofas, as they’re better at hiding the marks that refuse to come out after you’ve tried blotting them up with soap, water, and vinegar without success. Psst: Leather and velvet are actually more durable than parents think, and the real deal will develop a lovely patina over time.
As we’ve confirmed: Kids are messy. They somehow always seem to have their hands in something, and no matter if you watched them diligently wash their hands, their fingers are still sticky from that peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich at lunch. That’s why we recommend going with performance fabrics. In fact, sofas aside, many designers will opt for tough textiles when upholstering a window-seat cushion or banquette (for example, Kate Hayes of Little Hayes Studio chose an indoor-outdoor–approved fabric from Schumacher for a preteen room). They’re less likely to get threadbare or tear. High-density foam filling is also important to note, as regular foam will more easily misshape with age (though if you don’t plan to keep them for longer than your kid outgrows them, this isn’t a detail to get too hung up on).
The Last Word
The best couches for kids are designed to be the go-to seat for your children from the toddler to tween years. This is the place they’ll (hopefully) go to read, eat a snack, or (let’s face it) binge-watch Peppa Pig on their tablet, so it needs to be as comfy as it is durable.