img16oWeb site: potterybarnkids.com

It’s rare that one retailer can change an entire industry. Pottery Barn Kids (PBK) scored that coup during the 2000’s when their contemporary nursery décor (accented by vintage motifs and a bright color palette) literally changed the rules. Out went cutesy baby-ish décor; in came a more modern yet still whimsical look, thanks to PBK.

In recent years, PBK lost some of its style leader role to Restoration Hardware, whose RH Baby line has taken PBK’s clean lines and added rustic and antique notes to baby furniture, setting the style trends in the mid 2010’s.

Yet, Pottery Barn Kids still is a factor in today’s nursery furniture game. The chain sells a mixture of name brand and private label furniture from their site. Prices range from a simple $400 crib to more ornate designs (like the Larkin crib, pictured, $900). Occasional sales knock cribs prices as low as the $300’s.

Matching dressers range from $600 to $1500 and run the gamut from simple three-drawer options to extra-wide double dressers. Of course, PBK has all manner of accessories: nightstands, armoires, bookcases, and more.

Watch out for shipping—PBK shipping on expensive items is 10% of the total from $200 to $2999—and then PBK adds a $100 delivery surcharge. That surchage covers “premium in-home delivery” where PBK takes the package inside your house, assembles the crib and removes the packaging when finished. That’s nice, but it means a $800 crib really costs $1000+ when shipping, delivery surcharges and tax is factored in (if you order online).

While most parents are happy with PBK’s customer service and delivery, we’ve had more than one parent tell us about quality woes with PBK furniture: peeling paint on a bookcase, splintering wood on a dresser, etc. While the cribs are fine, it’s the other furniture items that draw complaints. To PBK’s credit, the web site or store usually takes care of the problem and replaces the defective item. But as one reader, who told us PBK’s home delivery service miss-assembled her crib, described it, “it’s always a canned apology with a pipe dream solution—we’ll send someone out, but they never show up.”

Quality-wise, you are paying a premium for the PBK look. But take a look under the hood: that $600 crib is cute, but why pay this much for a crib with exposed bolts? The rest of the nursery furniture market long ago caught up to PBK, so you can find the same crib look for $200-$400 less elsewhere. Even PBK’s once unique finishes (two-tones, grey, rustic wood finishes, etc) are easily found both online and offline for less.

Bottom line: Pottery Barns Kids’ price premiums are too much. If you love the PBK look, buy their décor accent items like rugs or lamps . . . and order your nursery furniture elsewhere. Rating (furniture): C