Review: The NooK Play Couch Turned Us Into A Fake Furniture Family
I have been converted by this Australian play couch that looks cute enough for our living room.
Look, we all have our things we swear we will never do when we’re parents and then do a complete 180 on, and one of mine was owning a damn “play couch.” I mentally banned them from my home, for reasons I can no longer remember. Were they too indulgent? Too aesthetic? Too large? All of the above? I did not want my house to look like a preschool or an indoor play place, or not any more than it did. I would sit out this trend. I would quietly resent everyone who partook. “Must be nice to live somewhere big enough for PLAY FURNITURE,” I’d think, every time I scrolled past one on Instagram.
And then I found myself in a bigger house, with a living room large enough for more furniture than we had, and a lot of space for the kids (4 and 8) to run around in. We became a Play Furniture Family, and I would be more embarrassed about it if the NooK Play Couch wasn’t so shockingly unobtrusive and immediately beloved by my children.
And somehow, it satisfies some deep childhood urge of mine to have the kind of fun-shaped cushions a gymnast would use to practice on, while having the appearance of tasteful furniture for adults.
- Price: $645
- Sizes: The standard size is like a petite, low-to-the-ground loveseat, but you can always order additional pieces.
- Colors: There are over 30 colors in the range, from a tasteful beige and muted blue to bright, sunshine-y yellow. The colors and the weave of the fabrics are nicer than most higher-end furniture stores. West Elm is shaking.
- Who it’s for: Anyone with the space and kids they’d like to peel away from screens once in a while.
- When to use: My kids are 8 and 4, and took to it immediately and with enthusiasm. I could see it being very useful as a safe thing to crawl around on for a baby or toddler, but preschool-aged kids (between 2 and 4) are probably the ideal audience. Which isn’t to say my 8-year-old isn’t passionate about it, and I am sure the play couch will still be in their bedroom when they’re teens.
- Pro-tip: My kids love copying the NooK-provided “builds” that come on a poster in the box, but after I hid it from them, they really started to use their imaginations.
In its standard configuration (put together to look like a couch or love seat), the NooK measures 160cm across the front (about 63 inches) by 80cm deep (32 inches). It stands 56cm high with a seat height of 25cm. Set up, it looks like a very cute little loveseat, but the idea is that kids can arrange the pieces of the NooK in endless configurations to aid in imaginative play.
The parts for the couch come with a poster of ideas for different “builds,” and my children spent days proudly setting them up and calling us into the room to look (is this a pro or a con?).
For storage, we either set it up to look like a couch (when guests are coming over), or stack all the cushions on top of each other and shove them in a corner. We’ve been known to use it as a waist-high table for family game night — my 4-year-old enjoys leaping from the cushions while smoking us at Uno. You can even spread the pieces out flat for sleepovers, and end up with more sleeping space than a double bed.
In reality, the cushions are most often spread across our house, set up as either an obstacle course or the saving grace in The Floor Is Lava.
The fabrics come in a range of types: standard, velvet, ultra-weave, and a new water-resistant outdoor fabric for playing by the pool. You can order fabric swatches to get a real feel before you purchase. “Standard” is the original NooK fabric and is “commercially rated to 60,000 rubs,” which is not a unit of measurement I have ever heard of but respect for its utility. The ultra-weave, being ultra, can withstand 150,000 of those rubs.
Inside the NooK are three different grades of foam for different levels of firmness and buoyancy, which the company claims are the only GECA-certified open-cell polyurethane foams, meaning they’re manufactured with strict ethical and environmental guidelines. Their website states that indoor NooKs are all made from 100% polyester blends, and the outdoor play couches are 100% Olefin, all made 100% in Australia.
We have the standard fabric and it looks and feels great, like durable but soft couch cushions. They are light enough for little kids to move around (and throw, grr) but weighty enough to feel like real furniture. My husband and I have debated using it in lieu of a blow-up mattress for a guest bed, and also very much wanted to take naps on it while the kids play around us.
Getting smacked in the face with one of the long, skinny cushions, as I have reminded my 8-year-old time and again, DOES hurt.
I can personally confirm that the covers on this sucker are machine-washable. I have spot-cleaned with a wet paper towel when my kids laid on it with their hair spray-painted rainbow colors. And, in a less glamorous circumstance, all evidence of dog puke — significant, I might add — was erased when washed on cold and air dried, with no stains or pilling. I wish I could say the same for the cushions on our actual Ikea couch (FML).
One note: The cushions are also fairly easy to unzip with a paper clip (or a wine key if that’s all you can find, no questions, please), even when you’re down in the basement cursing your life choices and trying not to breathe through your nose.
What the real customers think
I asked my children to give me their own reviews while they huddled by my laptop asking me what I was doing (and also what was for dinner). My 8-year-old wants you to know that, “It can be used as anything — to create structures, vehicles, or obstacle courses.” My 4-year-old adds: “But we need more pieces of it so we can make a train.”
The NooK builds!
My kids are obsessed with this inspo poster that gives you different ideas for NooK configurations.
Pros & cons
- Made to last, with Oeko-Tex certified fabrics
- Actually gets my kids playing together
- I feel rich in cushions.
- Appetizing to our nightmare dog
- Still an investment
- Now the kids want all of the extra accessories and, worse, I am tempted to buy them.
The final verdict
My kids LOVE having a piece of furniture that is really theirs, that they can toss around the house and carry from room to room for fort-making and obstacles courses. It’s extremely cute and has proven useful as backup furniture at dinner parties and family game night.
If you have the space and the cash, this is totally worth it.
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