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Is High-End Furniture Worth The Price Tag?

We live in the age of Amazon, Ikea and Wayfair. It seems like cheap furniture, shipped to your door disassembled in a cardboard box, is dominating the market. And to be honest, at face, anyone can see why. At these stores, a large sectional couch costs under a grand. A full dining room set will run you around $700. Even end tables can be found for around $100. You can furnish your entire house for several thousand dollars. And I mean your ENTIRE house. Bedrooms, kitchen, living room, game room, and even the back patio. I’ll admit, that is a deal that is difficult to pass up. And when you see the cost savings, it’s hard to understand why someone would ever pay more than a few hundred dollars for any single piece of furniture. It really seems like the days of collecting high end furniture are on their way out. But….. Is this a good thing for the consumer?

(Very cheap table from a certain large online retailer)

Now, before we get to the inevitable BAD in buying cheaper furniture, let’s think about some of the good reasons to purchase it. For one, if you are lower income, or on a tight budget, the aforementioned companies can provide simple home furnishings mimicking the latest styles for very affordable prices. This is a very good thing for folks who simply need a place to sit at the end of the day, or a table to eat a meal. And let's face it, in our struggling economy, scraping together the funds to spend on expensive furniture may not make sense. Buying cheaper furniture also makes sense for those that have young children or pets who will beat up, spill on, chew on, or as my brothers and I did when we were young, full contact lightsaber battles on/next to, and damage the furniture anyways. No sense in shelling out thousands for a beautiful leather sofa or solid mahogany dining table just to have the leather punctured or the table scratched up in a few short years.

Now, onto some of the reasons why you would consider something higher end.

Have you ever heard the saying “Buy once, cry once?” The point of the quip is to say that if you spend a little more now, even though it hurts the wallet, you will be more satisfied in the long run. One of the key reasons to buy higher quality furniture is because, most of the time, it lasts longer. A LOT longer. I can tell you from first hand observation, only three or four short years after purchasing a nice looking “leather” couch from a discount furniture store, some good friends of mine noticed that the “leather” deteriorated, making the couch look like a blotchy, leprous blob. Unfortunately this story is fairly common in the discount furniture world. Each piece has a useful life of a few years, then it begins to fall apart, and a new piece is purchased. Rinse, repeat. After this cycle is repeated three or four times, for each piece of furniture, it may be that no money has been saved after all. We live in a culture that produces disposable items at an alarming rate. Planned obsolescence is commonplace. In order to produce the cheapest possible product, corners are cut, and unfortunately, quality lives in the corners. True value is often not the cheapest option on the market. And regarding furniture, quality, long lasting furniture is not cheap. A few years back we had an amazing buffet come through our shop for repair. The customer stated that the piece was from the mid-1800’s. It was still in wonderful condition and it was EXTREMELY VALUABLE. Few things are still around today that were built in the mid 19th century. The Eiffel Tower, The Statue of Liberty, and this buffet all make the list. And yes there are still talented craftsmen today that build high quality furniture that will last for centuries. These pieces will cost much more upfront than a discount store, but they will likely save you money in the long run with a long lifespan.

A final reason to seek a higher-end piece from a reputable company is retained value. Now keep in mind, almost all furniture depreciates over time. But if you buy a piece of furniture from a well known company that has excellent quality, you will likely be able to sell it and salvage some of the sunk costs when it comes time to get something else.

So, is high end furniture worth it? Usually it is.

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