Steal vs. Splurge
The first conversation my now husband and I had about the cost of furniture was when I worked with a furniture company back in North Carolina. We were recently engaged, about to move to Savannah, and had just put a security deposit on an apartment that desperately needed to be furnished. Thankfully, I was able to get an employee discount and Jared trusted me to pick out a sofa frame. I basically had two options when picking out a frame. I could choose a base priced frame with low grade fabric to save a few hundred dollars, or choose a frame from the higher end collection knowing we would spend more, but that it would last more than just a few years. After picking out a higher end, better constructed frame, and discussing fabrics with Jared, I told him the total.
Pictured above: Exhausted, and slightly loopy, soon-to-be newlyweds after moving furniture into our first home! My shocked husband-to-be asked, “And that’s with your employee discount? I mean, is that a good price?”
“Of course it is," I assured him. "It’s a sturdy frame with a high double rub count for the fabric!” Let’s be honest here, to most men, heck, to most people, the words “double rub” and the construction of furniture are a pretty foreign concept. “Ok. Well, you know more about this than I do," he continued. "So, if you think it’s what we need, and if it’s really worth the money, then go ahead and pay for it.”
Can you sense the hesitation? Fast forward almost two years later. While living in our apartment, and finally figuring our way around Savannah, the time has come to start talking about buying a home.
I said to him, “You know, I think the first thing I want to buy for our home is a nice dining room set. It would be nice to have enough seating for our families when they come and visit us.” Jared agreed. But then again, our table only sits three because one chair broke while his grandparents owned it. When our family and friends from North Carolina come to stay with us, we always have to pull up our desk chair from our office nook, as well as Jared’s plastic fold up chair from college. Pretty fancy entertaining if you ask me! “Just by curiosity, how much do you think a dining room suite costs? Table and chairs,” I continued. “Hmmm… $1000 at most,” Jared innocently replied.
Pretty sure I spat out my coffee that I wasn’t even drinking. Appalled, I replied, “$1000?! Jared, you cannot be serious. A nice dining table can run $800+ and chairs can be $200-$300+ each, and I’m being generous!” Shocked, he finished, “No. No way! That’s crazy!” Ok. So to my husband’s credit, the only real information he had ever gotten about the prices of furniture have been through commercials for “room-in-a-box” type stores that advertise on television, newspapers, and such. It never occurred to him that these types of furniture pieces may be very wallet friendly upfront, but you could be looking to either buy another piece to replace your broken dining chair after about two years, or make due with a table that wobbles, dents easily, etc. So what’s worth the splurge and where can you save? What should you really spend your money on, especially when working with a budget. Of course, it is all up to your lifestyle, but here are my top 3 home furniture essentials that I believe are the most important for a home:
Absolutely, without a doubt, my number one item I would splurge on would be the living room sofa. If you have both a living and a family room, choose the room where the sofa would get used the most. Think about it, after a long day of work, where do you go to watch the game, take a nap, and relax? Your sofa. When you have friends over, what one piece of furniture seats the most people? The sofa. Don’t settle for a poorly made piece of furniture with hard-to-clean fabric, especially when you have kids or pets in the house… or an Aunt Sally who gets a little clumsy after a glass or two of red wine during Christmas at your place. Also, look into seeing if the furniture company you get your sofa from comes with a warranty. The sofa will cost more upfront, but in the long run you can actually save money on cleaning services, repairs, or replacements.
At a very close second, your bed mattress. You’ve heard it time and time again that if you don’t get a good night’s rest, you’ll feel miserable, and it’s true! But here’s the thing, name brands aren’t exactly the end all be all for picking out your mattress. Don’t assume "popular name brands" are always high quality. There are so many over hyped mattresses that can cost a fortune, as well as many lesser known brands that carry quality mattresses that fit the way YOU sleep for less. Another money saving tip? Buy after Christmas. This is typically when mattress stores have the best deals. My best friend and her husband bought a steal of a new mattress at the end of December, and they swear it is the best night’s sleep they have ever gotten. So even though I’m saying you should “splurge” on a mattress, be mindful that if you truly are having a rough time sleeping, consider putting money into a new mattress vs. swapping out $100+ foam mattress pad covers.
It is said that the heart of the home is in the kitchen, and I believe this to be true. Besides your sofa, your family and friends are constantly gathered around your kitchen table. Make sure that you choose a table where your family can comfortably sit during meals. Now I’m not saying that you should fork out thousands on dining sets that you only sit at during holidays, but whatever table you and your family are gathered around on a constant basis, focus on splurging on that one. And what makes some dining sets worth the spurge vs. the cheaper ones? More expensive tables will likely be made of real wood, making it incredibly sturdy, as well as having more complicated joinery that adds to the time and labor of creating the piece, but giving you the peace of mind that you shouldn’t have a leg break off after a year of owning it. Trust me, it happens. And keep in mind that if you have a wood top, you will want to consider purchasing glass to go on top to prevent stains and discoloration, especially from cups.
So next time you have sticker shock, remember to ask about the quality, warranty, and construction of the piece. There typically is a reason why more expensive pieces last longer. Now my husband understands why furniture is an investment, not just an accesory!