acrylic, lucite, perspex and plexiglas

11 Aug

cactus chair, Deger Cengiz, Voos furniture

A recent comment by a reader named Kristin has literally kept me up at night.  She writes, “Any ideas on how to incorporate baby-safe play areas with daily household areas?”

This is a HUGE question, and one I haven’t seen being talked about or dealt with in the traditional home decor magazines (although there’s a gorgeous kids room featured in July/August’s House Beautiful, I’m sure many interior designers would rather forget that human beings actually start at age 0…) Of course, you can always count on a heated debate about baby/child “proofing” on — on one side, “if your child behaves him/herself, you don’t need any,” on the other, “yes, padded corner cushions are ugly, but they’re necessary, and soon they’ll be unnecessary again.”  My take on the whole challenge is a combination of the two philosophies.  You want your home to be -and stay- as visually pleasing and comfortable as possible, AND it needs to be safe for all the people who live there.

Which sometimes means swapping out the (super-indulgent and big-treat-to-ourselves) Czech-crafted mid-century wood and glass cocktail table which sits center-stage in our living room in favor of something a little more … destruction-proof.

adair table,

Enter the fabulous material known as acrylic AKA lucite, perspex (for those in the Colonies) and my personal favorite, ‘plexiglas’ (a term coined in the ’30’s, but to me will always scream ’70s.)  They’re all name-brand alibis for a material properly known as polymethyl methacrylate.  Heavy on the meth there… good to know it’s  referred to as PMMA in the science world.

Starck's lou lou chair

I’ve been thinking about how wonderful acrylic furniture is, especially in small apartments like our own.   Apart from the inevitable scratches (our Kartell bedside tables are special victims), I can’t really see any disadvantages of acrylic furniture in a household with children, except maybe being knocked over and played with (e.g. kid-sized Ghost chairs for $133 at Room & Board).  The coffee tables we’re looking at, including the Adair (above, available at for $223.50) are especially sturdy.  Another favorite of mine is the CB2 Peekaboo table, available at for $250, which is made by simply melting two curves into a thick sheet of acrylic.

Dorothy Thorpe at Natural Pond Vintage

As you may have been thinking, acrylic is a bit of a ‘retro’ material… meaning you’ll see some of this stuff on Mad Men, perhaps Life on Mars, and maybe even Hot Tub Time Machine. (Basically, there’s acrylic for every decade).

A perfect 60’s example are these “Lucite Pretzel” candle holders, designed by Dorothy Thorpe and available for $179 at Natural Pond Vintage on Etsy.  As noted in the listing, “her Allegro glassware has been seen on numerous episodes of the AMC show Mad Men.”

cake stand at fabulousmess

This cake stand/display shelf is reminiscent of the above candelabras.  Make a toy collection look especially fancy, or add a fern for that 70s touch.  You can find it at the (super-fun) Fabulousmess shop on Etsy for $50.

unicorn at twin hearts vintage

And lastly, because it made me laugh, and then made me slightly nostalgic for the die-cut nameplate (in mirrored acrylic) I’d glued to my bedroom door as a kid.  Are little girls still into unicorns these days?  I don’t even know.  But if your girl is, you can’t beat this “vintage ’80s mirrored lucite unicorn,” sold by Twin Hearts Vintage, on Etsy, for $14 bucks.

Not exactly ‘childproofing’, but if you’re redecorating, some vintage-y acrylic furnishings could be a great way to go.   Kristin, I’ll be thinking about your question and get back to you with more suggestions in the future.  Readers, any tips for making stylish spaces more kid-friendly? Send them my way.

By the way, the Cactus chair at top is available for around $3000 via Voos Furniture, if you’re up for the challenge.


One Response to “acrylic, lucite, perspex and plexiglas”

  1. kristin August 13, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    thanks for addressing this!

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