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Old 05-18-2013, 10:46 AM   #21
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Finally broke down and bought new living and bedroom furniture in 2001. Living room stuff is worn out already. The material in it is falling apart but the rest is OK. Seems hard to figure out how to get it apart to reupholster it.
I wish I would have kept the old stuff, even though it was worn.
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Old 05-18-2013, 10:55 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by someguy View Post
Hi all, question for all groups (ER/FI/ESR/Dreamers): what do you do about furniture? For furniture you regularly use, what's the most you've ever spent on a piece, especially a sofa or chair? I'm getting at the classic cost/quality tradeoff question. Do you buy a $5-$8K piece that you should be able to use regularly for years (decades?) or buy something less expensive that may start looking worn in a few years?

$8K or more for, say, a sofa seems patently offensive to me, but if I figure 1-2 hours of use a day times 365 days a year times 10 or more years, it seems a little more reasonable.

Any specific brand recommendations for high quality stuff at a good price? How about stuff on the lower price points but that holds up relatively well? Where do my fellow forum followers fall (try saying that fast a bunch of times) on the inexpensive/short-lived vs expensive/long-lived furniture continuum?
I buy antiques sometimes, but never antique sofas or easy chairs. I guess I fall on the cheap end of the inexpensive/short-lived option.

In November of 2011 I bought an attractive, American made (Carthage brand), matching brown sofa, loveseat, easy chair, and large ottoman for $949 total. This was on sale in the bargain room of a major local furniture store. The price was higher, but I negotiated it down. Here is my post at that time, with a photo:

They look GREAT, but I can tell that they aren't as sturdy as some furniture. Luckily, there is only one of me here so the sofa and loveseat aren't getting much wear. They will last forever. I sit in the easy chair every day, though, so it will go first. When it goes (I am thinking maybe after about 4-5 years' daily use), I will just go to Laz-y-boy and buy a higher quality leather easy chair and ottoman. That should look OK with the brown sofa and loveseat.

Originally I wanted high quality stuff, but it is ridiculously expensive and apparently high price doesn't guarantee high quality at all. I like my cheap-o solution. I can buy 8 sets of furniture like this for the price of one $8000 sofa. So, if something breaks I really won't care that much.

I might feel differently if I had three teenaged boys in the house, though. Honestly I think that such hypothetical teens would make kindling out of this furniture in short order.
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Old 05-18-2013, 10:58 AM   #23
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Back in our 20's we went for Ethan Allen upholstered couch, chair and ottomans. My parents had always had Ethan Allen and I liked the classic styles and reputation. We kept these pieces far too long and they were beyond worn out by the time I replaced them. I thought about having them reupholstered but decided I needed fresh and practical furniture.

I shopped around and decided on La-Z-Boy. We bought a couch and a love seat. I recall it was around $1800 for both pieces. I love the comfort and reclining options. The microfiber feels good, shows no wear and cleans up easily. Because 4 of the 5 seats recline and have the footrests we didn't need ottomans.

It was a big leap for me to get away from the classic upholstered look. I admit I'm resistant to change. But I'm also very practical and we needed this furniture for watching TV and conversation in the living room. The La-Z-Boy pieces have worked out perfectly. I like them so much that I bought a rocker recliner chair for another room. Our son liked ours so much that he bought a La-Z-Boy loveseat and leather rocker recliner chair for his place.

When my Dad moved to assisted living last fall I got most of the Ethan Allen dining room furniture (china cabinet and buffet/server) which I still love. My sister already had the dining room table because she had the room for it.
Married, both 65. DH retired June, 2010. I have a pleasant little part time job.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:02 AM   #24
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I don't like shopping. We don't like things that are poorly made. And we have always been happy wait until we could afford to buy what we wanted and pay for it. I just cannot see the sense in borrowing money to buy things that depreciate that quickly.

So, we have had our furniture for a good long time and expect to have it a little longer. We do replace items like sofa's and chairs that get lots of use but we shop around and understand what we are buying. Apart from the construction and fabric, there are the usual add-ons. Things are changing now that we are moving from a large house to a condo...we need smaller furniture!

As an example, that offer to Scotchguard your new sofa or chair is most probably a waste of money. The solution is sprayed on the top of the fabric, it rubs off after time. In fact, most good upholstery fabrics will have a very high quality protectant properly sprayed/embedded into the fibres from both sides during the fabric manufacturing process. The option that your furniture retailer offers you is nothing more than an add on to his profit margin. Most fabric swatches in the stores will actually have an indication of this on the outside of the swatch. We don't bother with any fibreboard products either, or fibre products disguised as solid wood by the addition of a little veneer.

One thing you might do it to get a book and understand how furniture is made-particularly how the joints are put together-especially things like drawers.. It may give you an indication of what to look for. Same for upholstery. Or visit a local shop that re-upholsters soft goods...they will probably be happy to show you what to look for.

One thing is for sure, in our experience many of the furniture sales people have very limited knowledge of construction and of the products that they sell. We were lucky, we got a great education when we bought our sofa a chairs many years ago from an experienced wholesaler. She showed us what to look for. One of her first questions was about lifestyle and children, ie where the product would be and how it would be used. After that it was all about fabric, construction, and fabrics/styles that would not look out of date in 20 minutes. I think we bought Flexsteel product and selected an appropriate fabric for our needs.. Just passed it on to someone else after 23 years of service and it was still in good condition.

We did buy a Lazy-Boy chair a few years ago. the mechanism fell apart several times. Maybe we just got a bad one. But, we will never buy their products again or go to their store because our experience with their customer service people was terrible-like pulling teeth.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:06 AM   #25
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Most of our furniture is second hand, except for upholstered pieces which I prefer to buy new. We bought a new 3-piece sofa at Pottery Barn in 2009 for ~$4,000. It is well built and we chose a model with a removable slipcover. Since we have cats, it is sometimes necessary to reupholster furniture and a slipcover makes it super easy. It's also a breeze to update the look of the sofa when needed. Our old sofa was a 30-year old hand me down which had been re-upholstered several times. It was still in great shape, but we wanted something slightly larger and more comfortable.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:19 AM   #26
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For the Florida condo, we wanted to be able to accommodate additional guests beyond one guest bedroom. We found a high quality sleep sofa (some people might claim that's an oxymoron) for $2,500 made by a company called American Leather. The sleep sofa utilizes a tempurpedic memory foam mattress and our guests so far have remarked at the high comfort level. The sofas come in a limited variety of fabrics but we had no trouble finding a size and style to suit us. Highly recommended.
"A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do" --Bob Dylan.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:22 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Garage and estate sales, and craigslist, should have some good options, especially if you are patient and can transport. Second hand furniture is very inexpensive.

Bought my first house 3 years ago. Between mainly warehouse sales, closeout sales from Home Decorators (division of Home Depot) plus the employee discount of a friend that worked for them, and Craigslist stuff, I have spent less than $3,500 for my entire house furniture (2 bedrooms, family, living, dining room) and furnishings.

The best part of Craigslist is that not only are the prices much lower (assuming it's in good quality, which can take some shopping around), but the range of styles is so much greater than what you can find in stores! Found a great modern dining room set for just $300 (spent $275 more for a new, larger glass top). My sister was going to give me her old dining room set, but it had 5 chairs. Looking at what it would cost to buy 4 new chairs to make a set of 8 chairs (4 and 4), it would have been MORE money to do that with just the cheapest Wal-Mart chairs, than to get a great dining room set I loved with 6 chairs and a fill-in bench.

I much prefer CL over estate/garage sales because you usually have no idea what is at the sale before you get there, and with just one trip to an Estate sale and back home (60 minutes), in the same amount of time you can look at hundreds of postings on Craigslist.

So now, when I someday get married, I can easily list everything on Craigslist if I had to unload it and probably get not too much less than I paid for most of the stuff, and not have any heartburn over throwing out/selling something that I originally paid thousands for.

When my grandma passed on 2 years ago, I elected to not take any of her furniture, even though the manufacturer (Karges) is the "last great American furniture company". She had some great pieces (dining room set, master bedroom set, coffee tables), but it didn't really go with much of my decor, and even though the stuff is ridiculously expensive and beautiful (thousands for just a coffee table, tens of thousands for a dining room set), I didn't want to 'pay' that much for it. Might keep an eye out for Karges stuff if I ever see it on Craigslist...
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:37 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by heeyy_joe View Post
For the Florida condo, we wanted to be able to accommodate additional guests beyond one guest bedroom. We found a high quality sleep sofa (some people might claim that's an oxymoron) for $2,500 made by a company called American Leather. The sleep sofa utilizes a tempurpedic memory foam mattress and our guests so far have remarked at the high comfort level. The sofas come in a limited variety of fabrics but we had no trouble finding a size and style to suit us. Highly recommended.
I have this daybed in my spare bedroom, with the rolling drawers and brown fabric. It makes a really comfortable double bed.

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Old 05-18-2013, 11:45 AM   #29
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I really like Broyhill . It looks good and really lasts .I bought a sofa & loveseat in 1995 that are still going strong . Broyhill is a middle of the road brand price wise.I think I paid $2100 for the sofa & love seat . My SO & I have five grown children between us so any furniture we get sick of gets recycled. In fact that Broyhill set is now in residence at son #2's house . I have gone for the shabby chic or coastal living style.
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Old 05-18-2013, 01:01 PM   #30
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Very interesting thread. Since leaving home in my early 20's, I've owned two homes of my own, both on acreage in Colorado, and I bought a few select pieces of Ethan Allen, and the rest were whatever I thought looked good from other furniture stores.

But I only bother to buy and fill a place with furniture if I own it. I'm kind of funny in that when I rent a place (as I do now), I don't consider it a "home", so I turn into a minimalist and only have the absolute bare minimum to survive.

For example, I rent a 3000 square foot house in a nice neighborhood for just myself. I can't stand shared-wall housing like apartments and condos because I can't deal with noise. Had some bad experiences when I moved out on my own after college into apartments and had to deal with noisy neighbors playing stereos loud, etc. Can't deal with it. So everything I've rented after that has been single-family housing. I think I make up for the fact I can't live on acreage here, by renting larger homes, LOL.

But...I have zero furniture in this house on the lower level. None. No chairs, sofas, nothing. Upstairs, I have a desk and office chair in the office, and a bed in the bedroom. Where I splurged was turning one of the bedrooms into a home theater, where I have a couple of nice leather home theater chairs.

I have no need, nor desire, to fill a rental with furniture when a) it's just me living here, and b) it's not "home" to me. It's just a place to sleep and go to work from until I'm able to move on with life.

When I eventually do get my own home again, I'm sure I'll get some nice pieces to fill it with. But as long as I rent, I just don't have that desire. The first rental I had, the owner went into foreclosure and I had to move and find another rental. It sure was nice not having to deal with a house full of furniture when unexpected things like that happen with SFH rentals.
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Old 05-18-2013, 01:58 PM   #31
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I will definitely check our Smith Brothers in Berne, IN. I have read several good things about them elsewhere. Thanks!

Originally Posted by finnski1 View Post
Yes. Check out Smith Brothers of Indiana. Run and built by second or 3rd generation Swiss craftsman. They have great upholstered furniture at reasonable prices. The wife just bought a very nice sofa, tilt back wingback/armchair and matching ottoman. Very good quality. We did pay $2800 but that was for all three pieces. Believe me, being a frugal LBYM type it hurt to spend that because I was very happy with the 15 year old couch. In fact that 2$800 was about a full 8% of our typical yearly expenses. But you know what they say, happy wife, happy life.

My brother actually runs a furniture store in Massachusetts and this is one of his featured premier brands. He says it is very well made and it appears to be. He carries some of the other "big names" and says a lot of the quality has gone way down hill on the "high end" stuff.
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Old 05-18-2013, 03:30 PM   #32
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We've bought several pieces by south wood, 10 to 20 years ago. Reupholstered a couple of chairs and sofa, the other pieces are still in very good shape.. The are classic pieces and I find it hard to find those in the stores.
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Old 05-18-2013, 04:45 PM   #33
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We bought really nice stuff many years ago. Still is nice. DW is tired of it and wants to go forward with a minimalist approach. There are a few dings and nicks but the people buying our old stuff are getting great furniture at a fraction of the cost. In the future, we will be purchasing from Craiglist, estate sales, or second hand stores. After making all the decision about what to do with my parents furniture, some fairly nice mid-century stuff, I do not want my children to deal with it. Just back up the truck and feel no guilt.
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Old 05-18-2013, 05:34 PM   #34
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Consignment stores are great places to buy furniture. Wouldn't buy a mattress there but just about anything else works. Buying new furniture is kind of like buying a new car to me....just not worth the extra price.
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Old 05-18-2013, 05:44 PM   #35
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We bought a new house almost three years ago and needed new furniture. We went with a mixture of new and used and didn't pay a lot for any one thing.

My best find was when I went to Sears to buy a thermos for winter hiking and stumbled upon a 50% off Lazy-Boy sale. I had been wanting a Lazy-Boy so I tested them out and picked the one I wanted. That worked out well because two weeks after they delivered the chair I fractured my ankle. The Lazy-Boy with a pillow under my foot was a perfect place to perch.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:00 PM   #36
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We like to change things pretty often but we also like good quality. So except for a few key pieces of very expensive furniture in the formal areas we buy things like sofas, recliners, etc in the mid-price ranges and replace them every 3 or 4 years. Usually donate the used stuff since it's typically still in good shape.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:35 PM   #37
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I always have pets so I buy cheap. Also don't care about such things.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:55 PM   #38
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The only piece of furniture I see spending a significant amount of money for will probably be a fully adjustable leather desk chair, since I will be working from home soon and will need to have adjustable arm-rests in addition to the usual standard features. Normally my chairs cost $50, but I'm not sure if I will be able to find a new or almost new one for less than $300-$400 that has fully adjustable arm rests. I also get new mattresses, but those are inexpensive. Everything else is perfectly obtainable from CL at a very good price, the most expensive thing in my house always tends to be my computer equipment, by a long shot.
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:01 PM   #39
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We entertain folks several times a month so we did spend money for a nice dining room set and living room furniture several years ago. But other furniture (with the exception of mattresses) isn't a big deal to us. Our kitchen table is the same one I first bought when I got my first apartment 30+ years ago.

Also, when raising several rambunctious children one quickly learns that a lot of expensive furniture in the house is not a good idea. Function wins out over style.
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Old 05-19-2013, 01:27 PM   #40
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Our experience in buying furniture is similar to our experience in buying other items.

Once you get by the really cheaply made items, quality of construction does not necessarily vary directly with price. Discounts can be substantial....especially if you buy towards the end of January (common year end), have no issue with negotiating a price decrease, and are willing to walk out. Worked for us once. The owner ran out the door and offered us a great price if we did the deal. We were ready and saved us a good chunk of change.

Moreover, in the case of upholstered goods, some higher priced fabrics could very well be a mis match with your lifestyle and thus imply poor value for use.
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