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Furniture: Price vs Quality and Using an Interior Designer
Old 08-22-2019, 06:58 AM   #1
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Furniture: Price vs Quality and Using an Interior Designer

This may be of limited interest so FWIW.

To know if you want to read this post - in summary, I’ve found inexpensive furniture can be surprisingly good quality.

We just furnished almost an entire house. We used a professional interior designer (first time ever) and she gave us as many choices as we needed to fill 4-5 rooms. We thoroughly enjoyed working with her, she pushed us where we needed to be pushed - talked us into some design decisions we wouldn’t have made without her, and we’re glad she did. [Her services cost us $2100, but she saved us more than that on the furniture purchases - so her services were arguably free].

Cheap: Our dining room set, end & coffee tables, a loveseat and several lamps came from Wayfair and Houzz. I’d always been afraid to buy from them, but with her recommendation, we bought. The quality of these pieces is much better than we expected. Of course we can’t predict how they will hold up, but they look good and feel very sturdy and we believe they will hold up fine. Worst case we’re not out much if they have to be replaced down the road.

Middle: Our desk, file cabinet, MTO kitchen island stools and MTO TV stand came from a local (non chain) med/high end furniture store - all made in USA, and 1 piece from Crate & Barrel. It’s nicer than the cheap stuff up close, but I’m not sure anyone could tell without close examination. Crate & Barrel is overpriced IMO, but we bought one piece from them.

High end: Our bedroom set and sideboard were much more expensive than I’d hoped, but there just wasn’t anything we liked as much at lower price points so we splurged. The sideboard is the heaviest piece of furniture we’ve ever owned, the quality is obvious - construction, finish, slides/hinges, wood, etc. The 6 pc bedroom set is solid cherry hand made in VT, it’s simply the nicest furniture pieces we’ve ever owned - replacing our 40+ yo pressboard bedroom set that I rented (then bought) just out of college (I’m surprised DW didn’t put her foot down years ago). Pure luxury. I don’t know if it was worth the expense, but at least we can get to know what it’s like to have a few pieces of top quality furniture. We’ll see.

So I’m a big believer in you get what pay for, and I still am. But the difference from top to bottom in furniture is subtler than I had thought. I’d buy top quality again, but for lighter use and/or non-upholstered pieces there are some good values out there.
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Old 08-22-2019, 10:34 AM   #2
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Yes, over our 40+ year marriage, we have bought a variety of furniture from cheap to very expensive. Quality doesn't alway follow price!
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:32 AM   #3
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So far I have only found overpriced cheap stuff. Have not seen any overpriced good quality.
I am thinking of making a trip to the furniture mart at Hickory NC just for the experience. I am terrible at making a decision in a day so it will probably only be a excuse for a road trip.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:33 PM   #4
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Room & Board.
Good quality, made in the USA.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:52 PM   #5
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I buy only solid wood or veneered plywood. No MDF, particle or strand board ever. I won't DIY anything out of that stuff either, I just hate it.
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Old 08-22-2019, 01:52 PM   #6
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I've typically found the old adage "you get what you pay for" is pretty true. But not 100% of the time. Cheap stuff is almost always just cheap stuff. However sometimes I've been able to find some mid-range stuff that was pretty high quality and sometimes high end stuff that was "not so good". That goes for furniture, appliances, tools, cars, or pretty much everything. Just need to select things carefully. YMMV
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Old 08-22-2019, 02:30 PM   #7
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I build a lot of our furniture, mostly the simpler pieces like desks, TV stands, coffee tables, bedside tables, one bed, lots of book cases and built-in's. I only use solid hardwood and furniture-grade hardwood veneer plywood.

Over the years, we've also acquired several older pieces from various antique/junk shops, then repair and refinish them ourselves. Pieces I recall include 2 or 3 dressers, 2 round oak tables, a buffet, a bathroom vanity, and a sofa table.

Everything else, like sofas and chairs, we buy American-made on the mid-to-high quality level. Nothing is super high-end, but it's all solid hardwood, good quality leather, etc.

Design-wise... in some weird way, it all sort-of fits together... at least DW and I think so. But at some point, the services of a decorator would definitely be helpful.
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Old 08-22-2019, 03:05 PM   #8
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Hired an interior decorator to completely outfit our place. Furniture, linens, just about everything but the art on the walls. It was shocking how much it cost to do it and is not something I ever envisioned doing, but it was awesome and the place looks phenomenal. With an unlimited budget I couldn't have done half as good.

Like you, the pricing was all over the place and very rarely represented the quality. Our couch for example, was only $2400 and it looks awesome, is of extremely high quality, and is the most comfortable couch I've ever sat on. I would've expected this item to cost considerably more. Then you have things like bedside tables. She scoured the earth and eventually found something we liked that seemed worth the cost. Most of the bedside tables she sent us to look at were cardboard garbage and cost $1200 a pop. Sorry, no dice. Quality rugs were another area where I grossly underestimated how much we were going to spend to cover up brand new expensive wood flooring. Lamps cost more than I would've imagined, but all the chairs in our living area cost way less than I'd have imagined and have to be harder to manufacture. A lot of it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Being frugal LBYM people, the process was excruciating, I couldn't believe how fast money was going out, but now every single time I walk into my house I thank myself for convincing myself and spouse to do it.
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Old 08-22-2019, 04:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by DFDubb View Post
Being frugal LBYM people, the process was excruciating, I couldn't believe how fast money was going out, but now every single time I walk into my house I thank myself for convincing myself and spouse to do it.
Exactly how we’re feeling. We hesitated a long while on the high end pieces, but they’re our favorites. I wouldn’t want to fill the house with all high end pieces, that would cost $$$$.

Kinda stupid that we lived with crummy furniture for 40 years. We figured this was a forever house (last one just felt like forever), so we wanted to get nicer stuff, and some things we’d both always wanted. I’ve wanted a (replica) Tiffany lamp forever, finally bought one. Always admired shaker style bedroom sets, finally bought a set in solid cherry after 40+ years.

I wish we’d done it a long time ago, and again the interior designer was essentially free - she saved us more than she charged us. And what she led us to pick was far better than we’d ever have put together ourselves. She did “vision boards” for us, that was a revelation! Just cut and paste all the pieces that’ll be in a room together, very easy if you’re tech savvy (our designer was). I just never thought to do it, takes minutes, makes a huge difference. Some of the pieces we’d never have given a second look alone, but altogether it’s stunning!
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Old 08-22-2019, 04:27 PM   #10
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We usually purchase high quality upholstered pieces from stores. We have also ordered thru brokers in Hickory, NC but it took awhile to get delivery.

The other stuff is mostly family furniture of walnut, cherry and mahogany from the late 1940's. No oak is used in our house.

I purchased a Hancock & Moore leather hide-a-bed in an estate sale for $200. And it matches my H&M leather wingback recliner. You cannot touch one of their couches for less than $5,000--top of the line of all upholstery. My other couches are Hickory Chair.

Estate sales and antique malls are great places to look for furniture. We also used to frequent antique auctions when we lived in Atlanta for good quality furniture coming out of NJ, NY and PA.
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Old 08-22-2019, 04:29 PM   #11
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So when you say the designer saved you at least the cost of her fee, do you mean in the form of actual cash discounts or by steering you to good value items and helping you choose the best value item? I've always wondered how this works.
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Old 08-22-2019, 04:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemming View Post
So far I have only found overpriced cheap stuff. Have not seen any overpriced good quality.
I am thinking of making a trip to the furniture mart at Hickory NC just for the experience. I am terrible at making a decision in a day so it will probably only be a excuse for a road trip.
We visited Hickory recently, worth the trip IMO. We saw a Bassett chair that listed for $1629, for sale at $791. Matching ottoman was $799, or sale at $359. Delivery would have been $89 (45 miles).

We didn’t realize we wanted the chair and ottoman at the time either. The local Bassett store matched the Hickory Point prices, and matched delivery (they’re normally $149), so we ordered from them.
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Old 08-22-2019, 04:48 PM   #13
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So when you say the designer saved you at least the cost of her fee, do you mean in the form of actual cash discounts or by steering you to good value items and helping you choose the best value item? I've always wondered how this works.
Both. But I meant the discounts she got, on top of knowledge of what sales are going on at local retail and online were better than we could get period. The total discounts she got (that we couldnít) exceeded what she charged us. We looked at every piece online, some we could match ourselves but most we could not. For example the bedroom set we bought was from a high end hand made furniture maker in VT, they donít discount to the public ever. Our designer got a trade discount of about 15%. She got a 22% discount on our also high end MTO sideboard.

But she also recommended some inexpensive pieces that we would have been afraid to buy, and theyíre great quality for the price and donít look cheap. On Wayfair for example, she knew which makes were decent and which ones to steer clear of.

We are thrilled with the service she provided, and as far as weíre concerned it was free!
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:03 PM   #14
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We got great value from an interior designer when we had our house built. When you start with no fixtures in the house at all, the choices can be a bit overwhelming. She was great for presenting us with a few options at a time. This helped us come decisions rather quickly.

We never used a designer to select furniture, but had a rather eclectic, and changing collection for a long time. It has finally settled down to some consistent pieces for about five years now.

For value, I think antique markets are great. We had some night stands custom built from a guy on Pinterest (at a great price!). It was a long wait, but fine craftsmanship.

Today it's a mix of some newer fine furniture (but classic designs), with a few antique pieces that blend well. The only upholstery is the love-sac couch.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:17 PM   #15
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Good furniture is worth the money. When I divorced 22 years ago I left the antique bedroom set behind as I was sick of it and my ex loved it. I paid 6k for a beautiful solid oak set. I shopped around and got the best price. Still beautiful today. 40 years ago we bought a beautiful dining room table and chairs and looks as good as ever. My coffee and end tables are solid oak bought in a consignment shop. We also buy good mattresses.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:24 PM   #16
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Both. But I meant the discounts she got, on top of knowledge of what sales are going on at local retail and online were better than we could get period. The total discounts she got (that we couldn’t) exceeded what she charged us. We looked at every piece online, some we could match ourselves but most we could not. For example the bedroom set we bought was from a high end hand made furniture maker in VT, they don’t discount to the public ever. Our designer got a trade discount of about 15%. She got a 22% discount on our also high end MTO sideboard.

But she also recommended some inexpensive pieces that we would have been afraid to buy, and they’re great quality for the price and don’t look cheap. On Wayfair for example, she knew which makes were decent and which ones to steer clear of.

We are thrilled with the service she provided, and as far as we’re concerned it was free!
But in reality you know it was not free, I never recognized the value in services like you suggest.
I'm more a fan of sooner or later, slow, steady, & quality individual items. Many high end zip code thrift shops have great stuff.

I'd also suggest ones seating position is very, very important.
If your spines unsupported you do not easily elevate yourself=(get up from seating)

I'm a fan of anti-gravity furniture stuff.
https://andrewleblanccompany.com/the-
chairs


https://www.thebackstore.com/zero-gr...ner-79635.html

Ekornes, fjords, and other similar stuff is premium.
Its your neck-back-& shoulders right?

Good luck!
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:35 PM   #17
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When I furnished my vacation rental, I went with the high-end "Executive" package. ~$30K to purchase, deliver and install furniture, beds, mattresses, sheets, bedspreads, towels, pictures, plants, dishes, kitchen appliances, silverware, etc. for a 3BR, 3BA place. The resale value of all that furniture would be about $300.00.

It was the first time I ever used a service like that. I am glad I went that way, as it saved a lot of time.

You can get good stuff cheap, but no matter quality what you get, it depreciates faster than a new RV.
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:54 PM   #18
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Yup. Put it out onna curb. Not worth the time.

Haha, have to add... I put a POS fold top melamine particle board chest out on the curb and watched a little woman heft that turd into her BMW.

I thought she might scratch the paint!
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Old 08-22-2019, 09:29 PM   #19
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I have bought surprisingly nice pieces online . I also use Wayfair for decor items and area rugs because I change my mind a lot . For nice furniture I use two local furniture stores that help me select the right items .I buy very nice sofas since they are used so much .I have seen decorators at Home Goods looking for bargains.
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Old 08-23-2019, 04:36 AM   #20
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We have bought various price points in the past, but our last 4 furniture purchases were all from the same Amish craftsman shop. Not cheap, but a very good value. For example, we got a custom designed large elm coffee table with drawers at both ends for $900.
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