Smaller companies also are sprouting up to fill style gaps. Tracie Gildea, president of Sozo USA, said she and her husband decided to launch their e-commerce company (http://www.sozousa.com) after trying in vain to find the products they wanted for their infant son's nursery.
"It was pink and frilly for girls, cars and trucks for boys," she said.
Sozo's bedding, crib sets and window treatments feature bold graphics and sophisticated color schemes, aimed at creating rooms that can extend into the childhood years, Gildea said.
"People are looking at longer-term purchases," agreed Bob Carlstedt, owner/manager of A Room of My Own in Edina. Instead of buying baby furniture or teen furniture, they're choosing furniture that's less age-specific, so that they can create rooms that will grow with the kids.
"And people are getting more adventurous with color," he said. Vivid wood finishes, such as blueberry and cranberry, are increasingly popular and more people are mixing and matching pieces for an eclectic look.
Dave Schwartz, a buyer for Becker Furniture World, said that more kids' bedroom furniture mirrors adults', with "exotic carved pieces" and attic or heirloom styles.
He has also noticed an increase in parents' spending on youth bedrooms. An order for a full set of children's furniture ($2,000 to $4,000) used to be an occasional occurrence, he said; now he sees several such orders each week.
"There are wealthy parents who don't have any qualms about spending $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000" on a child's room, said Hunter Baum of Gabberts.
Or even more. Posh Tots (http://www.poshtots.com), an e-commerce company specializing in children's furniture features many pricey theme beds, including the $39,500 "fantasy coach," a Cinderella-esque creation that is shipped from England, then assembled and custom-painted in your home in "the motif of your choosing."
"Parents are waiting until later in life to have children, when they typically have more disposable income," Kitchen said. "Then there's the grandparent factor."
Grandmothers also have disposable income and they like to spoil their grandkids, said Lee Hafemann, sales manager at LaCrosse Ltd. in La Crescent, Minn. That's why they're a prime customer for the company's CooCoo Critters kids' clocks. "Everybody's grandma had one [a cuckoo clock] and it brings back memories."
Some grandparents even create rooms in their homes especially for their grandkids. Julie and Doug Huseby decorated their new lake home with their six grandchildren in mind, she said.
The home includes a children's bunk room that sleeps up to eight, complete with a small "clubhouse." The Husebys had the bunk room painted by a mural artist to resemble being in a treehouse. The home also includes a lower-level play area painted with colorful tropical fish.
"It's a kids' paradise," Julie Huseby said. "We want it to be fun for them to come to Grandma and Grandpa's cabin."
Even architecture is catering to kids. Carrie and Tim Frantzich included a "secret room" for their children when they had their Stillwater-area home built last year.
Tim Frantzich grew up in a big, old house with a lot of nooks and crannies. "A lot of my best memories are of those secret non-adult spaces," he said, and he wanted to create something similar for his children. So they had their architect, Paul Hannan of SALA Architects Inc., design a tiny room between the rooms of their two youngest children, Jonah, 5, and Esther, 3.
The secret room has child-size doors opening into the two adjoining bedrooms, and its interior was painted by artist Kirsten Frantzich Allen (Tim's sister) in the style of Swedish author and artist Elsa Beskow's children's book "Woody, Hazel and Little Pip," a favorite of the Frantzich children.