I am a combination of my experience and timing. Educated by family, vocationally, professionally, and the way in which it falls in my specific, once in an infinitesimal timed-out life experience. I am unique. One of a kind. There will never be, or has ever been anyone like me. You are divinely given the same bragging rites. As inspirational Louise Hayes says, "You are a divine, magnificent, expression of life".
What you have to offer is stellar and important, the key is whether you choose to share your gift or not.
As esoteric as this seems to be headed, it's actually more pragmatic than you might think. I choose to share as I find that even if it mimics another's thought and experience, it helps validate their path.
I like furniture. I've studied it. I've made it. I've purchased and sold it. I love a beautiful home that represents how I think and feel. It's a representation of your brain. How it works. How one thinks. How it finds pleasure and peace visually and functionally. Your life is now. If you don't realize the dreams and aspirations of your mind through your physical experience you have negated your time here on earth.
As I am more than just physical, but mind, body and soul, I too understand all forms of religious belief, social mores, financial confines and practical application. The flowchart of experience, beliefs and ideals dictate our choices. They mold us all, yet "no harm, no foul", should be an anthem that perpetuates us all. If it hurts no one, and benefits unconditionally...….WHY NOT DO IT?
It's one of the few things that we can all agree on. It's OK to have a beautiful home and live well in it. You may be a conservative right winger that the shutters must match the front door and the second floor can be close to Jesus as long as your hooker heels aren't part of the equation, or every door painted a different color of the rainbow flag on your double wide trailer...............................,
but we all cook the same biscuits and gravy and love a good quality stove. Grannie's iron skillet sets well with a pieced out set of Calphalon from Goodwill at pennies on the dollar. Generally thrown away from a pretentious millennial not knowing how to hand wash a pan while their Starbuck's travel-all is filling the once a week trip around the "all about my Pay Pal " world Viking dishwasher that matches the never used post mates covered lonely 6 burner stove. A second time purchase can be pretty darn smart when the first owner isn't wise enough to know what they've got. If you never saw Grandma cook grits in an iron pot over a coal stove, you may not realize that 60 Quick Quaker seconds in the microwave isn't too much time out of your life.
I get it. There have been times that I have felt that 7 minutes for a Lean Quisine was just too much of a commitment, and went straight for the Jiffy and soup spoon. We spend more time thinking about being in a hurry than just "gettin' 'er done". We are inconvenienced by anything that isn't placed directly in our hands in the moment of thinking it. Where is Jeannie when you need her, and even Alexa isn't fast enough.
Function over form. Things are to be used and purposeful. If in the process you can make them aesthetically pleasing then you've got a win/win. I have a very expensive stove. It was a splurge. I cook. I like food. I try to be conscious of what I eat and get great pleasure from the process and also entertaining. My stove is a commercial quality piece of equipment that is not normal in a home of this size. It's not normal for less than a dormitory, but here are the reasons. As I like to say, it checked off seven of the 5 boxes I was looking for.
1. I prefer to cook on gas. I've worked in restaurants, and like a commercial grade product. Large capacity. Griddle ready, Control of heat. Gas is a must.
2. I like the look, cleanability, lifelong repair of high end commercial products. Very cost effective in the long run.
3. Commercial stainless is timeless. The stainless look mimics commercial quality. Just because it's stainless doesn't make it quality.
4. A true commercial stove gives a look and cache that elevates many of the other lesser expensive elements of the kitchen and no matter how many years pass, will be perfectly acceptable as a truly timeless piece of quality equipment.
5. I can heat the house and cook a 50lbs pig at the same time.
6. I found a commercial special order return still in the plastic at 75% off retail.
7. Oginally $6500, for $1600. It was half the price of Viking and 10x the product.
This is when you have a jumping off point for your kitchen design. Keep in mind that if the first 5 boxes weren't checked, 6 and 7 would be irrelevant, as it would be equivalent to trying to put a $545 pair of size 6 shoes on your 9 1/2 feet. Just because they are marked down to $34.99 does not necessarily make it a good or timely purchase. Even Cinderella's sisters cut their toes off at a chance at Prince Charming. No sense talkin' the talk if you can't walk at all.
I purchased a gently used GE profile side by side fridge as it fit the allotted space, I was familiar with the brand and model and was quite a bargain. I was lucky enough to find a return order Viking dishwasher, that through daily visits to Best Buy, they loaded in my truck for $350 at a savings of over $1500. Timing can be everything. This freed much of my budget to purchase a true commercial, free standing legged deep well double sink with stainless cutting/drip board and $800 lifetime, all brass fitting extension sprayer faucet. Our desire for the commercial look, is derived from the true commercial function. As I have said......function over form. If it doesn't work, it ain't pretty. And, I must say, if you haven't used true commercial products, you don't know what you are missing. They are bigger and better for a reason, and that's not just what she said:)
As this is not just about kitchens, it's about knowing and understanding quality. It's also an example of buying smart and not just fancy. Just because it's expensive, doesn't mean it's better. There are many so called desirable names and logos on the front pocket, or neck of a shirt that the commiserate price indicates quality. Not always. I like many grew up with Mothers, Grandmothers and even Dads that sewed, mended, repaired and upholstered. From them we learned the lesson of fabric, construction, repair, and sewing techniques that opened a window into how things were done and made.
No matter what the name on the label, to this day I first look as construction and the quality of fabric. If I can find a better quality garment for equal, or often much less price without a designer tag, I will buy it. Putting your own stamp on a quality definable look is far more sophisticated than just someone else's name on the pocket. If it is a designer garment of great quality at a discount,,,,,,,,,,,yes, of course. If I can find a designer shirt of exceptional quality, second hand unused, or very gently used at a mere fraction of retail, well I ain't too proud to snatch it up. Who will know the difference? It's just smart shopping. A good wash or trip to the dry cleaners and it's good as new. My Mother, like my Grandma made many of their clothes as to save budget to purchase better quality shoes and hand bags. That's just using your own time and talents as a commodity as to redirect your budget to the things that are not your forte'. Also, a quality pair of shoes and matching bag will always make a hand made set of slacks look even better. No one will ever know that your savings paid for the designer purse and deep discount shoes. We can't always have it all, but can work smarter for more.
We buy second hand cars and houses everyday, so furniture and home goods should be no different. As the monetary savings can be extraordinary, the ecological sense and minimalization to the planetary footprint is insurmountable and exponential. Don't preach saving the planet in the same over inflated and entitled breath that fingers you to door to door delivery of a plethora of disposable items. That includes furniture,
We have become a more disposable society for more reasons than just lazy convenience. As a consumerist capitalist society, the more often we purchase and repurchase, the faster the wheel of the GNP moves. The more we buy, the more we sell, the more we make, the more we build, the bigger the wheel and the faster it turns. It's a never ending cycle that forces us seemingly into a never ending perpetuated spiral of up and over the top. It's like a fragile glass ceiling that there is no other alternative than forward and we have no other choice and few alternatives. At this point, the best we can do is our own small choices in combination to make larger changes. All things being equal, choices that are financially, aesthetically and planetarily conscious for each of us personally are the wisest.
So here is the skinny......KNOW QUALITY AND BUY THE BEST YOU CAN WITH THE BUDGET THAT YOU HAVE. Before you look on Wayfair and have a sofa delivered for $549 because that sounds like a great deal, study the maker. Read the reviews.
Check the manufacturer and fabric. Study if the legs are plastic or wooden. Are the cushions two sided, so as to have double the wear, and are the materials cleanable with soap and water or professionally clean only? Are the cushions expensively down filled for comfort or foam that deteriorates and loses shape. Every decision has a longer term ramification. Trust me, there's a reason that sofa is marked down to $249, as it would have to have cost less than 1/4 to manufacture. Think about it.
Sometimes high end materials require maintenance, but are long-life and maintainable. Is it important to have a long last product or are you OK with replacing it every few years? And, you will need to replace it if you want it to look good and function. If the look of your home is not important, then you are missing a great portion of your life here on earth. The look does matter, if not to you, but to others and let's face it...………..the "other's" are the opinions that perpetuate the world's view of you and value of your possessions and bottom line salability of your investments. It's a chain of events and decisions that matters in the end culmination of your life's work. Why not, with all things being equal, also enjoy a beautiful home and its functions along the way while protecting and promoting your largest investment?
I have in my life looked like I had more simply by knowing how to make more from less. I come from good farm stock and know "how to do". Knowing how to do things, be willing to do it, see the value in everything, and not being too proud to admit it can often save more money than the alternative of making it and wasting it. I'm a afraid to say that "a penny saved is a penny earned", if not two or three. Not to mention that the price of something and the quality and value of it are quite often mutually exclusive. Price is not always an indication of quality, and cheap is not necessarily a good value.
I've learned from the best, or if not the best, the best I've had access to. Everyone in my family and those we associated with owned businesses and were self made to the best of their ability and resources. Money makes money, and if you aren't lucky enough to come from a "lift off" background, then hopefully you were privileged enough to learn how to "make it work". If you lose the hunger to make it with nothing before you have the cash on hand to dine at the big table, then you may lose your drive, but persistence will take you to the finish line, and crossing the line every time can be more sustaining than winning big once.
Persistence is taking the time to show up. You have to keep looking. Timing is everything. One man's trash is another man's treasure. There are so many options, but the fact is everyone considers themselves the next Joanna Gaines and second hand thrift shop diva, weekend booth rented king or master dumpster diver. Then there's Ebay, Goodwill, Etsy, Marketplace, Craig's List, Thrifty Nickel, Next door Neighbor, Salvation Army, Habitat, estate sales, auctions and every second hand shop, antique mall, thrift store and not for profit organization in a solid zip code. Everybody is in the game, but that doesn't mean that they are all savvy players. Just like football, if there are too many on the field, it can muddle the results. The good can't do their job and the rest just get in the way. Every parent is proud, but only a few have the reason the be.
So what do we do? Well, you need to have a plan which first and foremost includes the function of the item. We want it for what reason? To wear. To drive. To sleep on. To cook with....? Then you need to be informed, and yes that requires shopping. Fortunately in today's world we have the ability to couch surf from home, and here is where you can best utilize your time by studying the options and the best semblance of comparable pricing. For most people currently this is where it stops, push a button and BAM......it arrives. I however still believe in a trip to the good ole brick and mortar. I like to see, feel and get more than just a conceptual idea of an item, and physically judge with all of the options that I may not have previously been aware of in my one picture at a time limited descriptions. I didn't say to not shop on line, but to only do so is the same as self diagnosing on Web MD. A Professional can tell you more than you are seeing and may inform you with many things that you didn't even know you didn't know. Be prepared to study and ask, and equally prepared for the answers. Your phone is not God and knowledge is still king.
I speak from experience. I've owned a store and sold on line. Therefore I shop a lot. I've bought and sold new and special order, but my preference is second hand. Not only do I love a great find and appreciate the savings, but also believe it is one of the strongest forms of environmental consciousness. Do you ever just look at your weekly trash and think, "where in the world does all of this go, and how long before it swallows us up?"
At this point I'm sure that most of this is common knowledge for you and seemingly redundant, so here is what I have to add to the conversation...……...
Don't purchase just because it's a great deal. If you don't need it, it's still money that could be spent elsewhere. None of us have unlimited funds. When I moved home, Mom had an entire linen closet full of repeated "sale of the century" items. She had 60 bottles of Calgon marked down to 49 cents. I'm still trying to get to the back of the closet for better use and believe me, that suds ain't "taking me nowhere". Everyday there is an unbelievable sale somewhere and there will always be more and another opportunity. There is something called "hoarding". If you are drowning in stuff, you can't breathe in the moments.
Don't be afraid of someone else's use. Also, don't confuse use with abuse and filth. If it's broken down and dirty, there's just no need at all. Also, a dirty case good (solid wooden furniture like a table or dresser) is quite different than a soft good like a fabric covered chair or sofa. A case good with a good solid construction can often be simply cleaned up with a little elbow grease whereas a soft good may be too far gone. Fabrics can also retain smells and show wear that is just a "throw away". I'm confused by those considering reupholstering anything other than an heirloom. The cost is prohibitive and probably will even be more than the purchase of new. If you can't do the work yourself and understand the process and cost...…...don't. On the other hand, don't expect to not pay a premium for someone that has the skills and makes their living at it. Equally, if you are so inclined to buy for resale, if a chair needs to be recovered, don't expect to sell at a premium no matter what the construction, name brand or style of the item. Sell what you would buy at a price you would spend. Your trash looks cleaner to you than to someone else. A broken down, dirty chair, with interesting carving unless it belonged to King George is probably just fire wood no matter how little you paid for it. Good fabric also needs to be cleaned occasionally. Don't be afraid of a little surface dirt. A hand held rolling brush attachment on a good vacuum will do wonders. A light spray with some Woolite and minor effort will often bring most fabrics back to a level that will surprise you. Also, hiring a good professional steam clean is money will spent. If they are already coming to clean the carpets, ask what they would charge to do a chair, or the area rugs while they are there. Make your money and their trip count for both of you.
Don't pay the same price for items to be painted as you would for those with a perfectly workable finish. A seller should expect a higher price for a table with a nice finish than one with a large scratch right across the center. On the contrary, a solid table with many scratches should be purchased at a commiserate price, and after painting, all damage is hidden and the construction and use remains. Don't pay the price for a perfect finish and paint it, but look for the shape, form and construction on an item that is cosmetically damaged at a lower price. That being said, don't expect a seller to drop their price to your budget on a pristine item just because you want to change the finish. That's not their problem and their investment included the true value of that item. Also don't be afraid to pay a higher price for a "ready to go" item. Your time is valuable and the product and tools to repair or refinish something adds to the bottom line. Everyone's time has a price and keep in mind the bottom line investment of the seller and don't insult them. Don't assume that there is always a hidden agenda. Don't make ridiculous offers or assume them to accept it. If they are offering a table for $40, how much do you think they paid for it? I have found that most people try to at least double their investment not including time, gas and trouble. If you offer $30, they are just finding it and giving it to you. There ain't nothing right about that. If you offer half of the marked price, have the decency to throw in a can of beans. They are probably starving. I have found that there are far too many people that aren't happy until they have it in writing that you are losing money on the deal, and even then they want it delivered and expect you to purchase their trash for twice what it would cost them to throw it away. I guess they think that's funny, and I think it's funny they think so.
If your budget is $50, don't be lookin' in the designer section. Just because you like the most expensive couch in the building, doesn't mean you make a stupid offer. Look at the $100 sofas and see what you like about them and then see what you can find like it for half. If you can't, then you need to up your budget. It's not all about you and just because you found an unbelievable deal on a pair of roller blades 20 years ago, doesn't mean you can wheel and deal your way back a couple of decades. Prices have gone up and continue to rise, and the bottom line expense to find, purchase and deliver is ever climbing. Support local businesses and expect them to make a reasonable profit. They are not less than you and living expense is not either. Be cognizant of the services and products that they are offering, especially when they are saving you more than you would in alternative situations. You've saved your money, don't deny them their do.
True vintage in lieu of brand new reproduction is most always the way to go. As the traditional antique is experiencing a wain in popularity, it still has a place in our current world. They are traditionally made in a superior fashion and give a sophistication of look that is unmatched. You can purchase them at a fraction of the cost of new and give a look clout that Wayfair can't match at any price. It's not that many new pieces of furniture may not be your first choice, but I find most people have no concept of the current prices of great quality, name brand furniture. We are a Value City, Rooms Place, Ashley furniture society. I'm not opposed to shopping there, but more than likely be drawn for many reasons to the designer section at Kittles. Why? The quality is superior. The look is better and will last a lifetime. So how do we make our budget match our tastes?
Thanks to HGTV and the Gaine's compound, Farmhouse Chic is currently a popular trend. There are reproductions of simple antique and industrial pieces everywhere. Part of the reason that traditional antiques are on the out, is the ornate lines of many older styles. It fights with the clean lined aesthetic that we now gravitate towards.
There are simply well constructed, handmade farm pieces everywhere. There is nothing that looks more chic than a sturdy primitive work table in an entry with a large piece of modern art above it. The lines are simple and the juxtaposition of the two separate yet complimentary styles is perfect. I am often stunned when I see someone pay thousands for a distressed reproduction that mimics the real thing that can be found for a fraction. I don't recommend filling your home with all of one thing, including bargain finds as it can begin to look kitchy or on the converse like a museum, but a proper selection of the "real thing" is cost effective and elevates a look to a whole new level. The proper piece, in its proper place still deems a proper price, and doesn't mean that an "old" piece is cheap. But, keep in mind that the "real thing" for $400 is a hands down bargain compared to a designer reproduction for 10x the cost and more than a "return on investment" alternative to a poorly made to self assemble contact paper, press board wanna be delivered by Amazon. All things being equal, the vintage piece will also retain it's purchase price and most likely increase whereas the low end reproduction will fall apart and become trash in as much time. If you are lucky enough to procure a pricey reproduction of exceptional quality, don't be afraid of a reasonable gently used price. A $5000 cabinet is still a steal at $1000. That's 80% off. If you found a bar of soap at that level of discount, how many would you pass it up?
An equally popular style at the moment is Mid-century and Post modern design and furnishings. I think each consumer generation gravitates to a level of memory and comfortability. If it's what we remember and grew up with, we want levels of updated versions
As our parents grew up with farm parents from the pre WWII era and filled their homes with carved oak, Hoosier cabinets and trundle beds, highlighted with layers of Laura Ashley lace and pattern, we now remember Grandma and Grandpa's last contemporary purchases of Danish Modern for their downsized retirement home built on the back 10 acres of the family farm. This then morphed into the Post modern Brady Bunch version that we cut our teeth on, before the Big 80's took over with oversized, over designed lacquered junk that probably no one will ever want again. The 80's and 90's were a glitch in design much like the Edsel, that eventually drove us nowhere.
You see the Mid-century look everywhere. It's clean. It's functional, and replicated in every and all levels of quality and price range. Most people think they can fill their homes with piece after piece of deliver to your door replicas that are poorly made to the point that they are not even functional. Most likely if you can buy a knock off chair for the price of a decent vase, that's what it is, something to be looked at for awhile, but certainly not sat on. Many of these pieces are a product of another current trend of staging a home for a better and quicker sale .Look but don't sit. Remember...….function over form. If it's too cheap...….IT'S CHEAP. Like many looks, you can carry it too far and begin to look uncomfortable. Many times when one likes a contemporary look, it's all about the clean lines and uncluttered function. With the proper vision, clean lined furnishings of all era's can be mixed and matched for the right look, and a layered over time, traveled, and usage makes for a lovely bohemian existence that can be cost effective to procure and maintain as simplistic pieces can be moved from room to room, replaced, updated and reused over and over again, which is evidently cost efficient and allows you to spend more on each individual piece as part of your ongoing story. In as much true mid-century design included the best pieces from a by gone era, but focused on the modern lines of the piece combined with an eclectic mix of more "space age" ideals. There's rarely a vintage photo of true mid-century that didn't incorporate a round Duncan Phyfe statement table somewhere in the room.
Don't be afraid to settle. You may not love it, but you need to like it a lot. If your ideal piece is $2500, but you found one of equal function and quality that works in a way that you are happy to live with for $650, don't walk but run to the bank machine. That's a no brainer and the savings will help morph your direction and free your budget in new and exciting directions. Believe me, by the time you get it home, you won't even remember the "dream" piece, but will have extra scratch in your pocket. Don't be too rigid. Doing so has led to $699 full room purchases of poor quality sofa, love seat, chair, ottoman, coffee table, end tables and lamps thrown in for good measure. It looks like it sounds...…..matchy-matchy and cheap.
Pull the trigger. You can exist in your head for years envisioning your desired environment and never spend a minute living in it. Start somewhere and go with it. If you buy items of superior design that speak for themselves yet don't compete, they can be moved from room to room year after year and the thoughtful occasional post purchase can change not just one room but many. The right occasional table can be an end table in the living/family room, night stand in the bedroom, plant stand in the office and two placed together a coffee table. If you purchase a couple of new end tables for your great room, take your two old favorites to the bedroom and replace the dated headboard with a newer of the moment upholstered version. Your result is also an updated personal space. Two birds with one stone for half the price that leaves you budget for new linens and lamps.
Too many folks think that used must be cheap. Exceptional quality gently used furnishings are less expensive, but certainly not without residual value. For years and to this day I would much prefer a well maintained luxury car, than a brand new entry level Yugo. Furniture is no exception. I paid $900 for my Henredon sectional at an auction, which means in a resale shop could easily top $2500, while new peaking out at $9000. I could have conversely purchased a $750 sofa at a mass travelled furniture store, but I'd have a temporary seating fix to an ongoing problem. I want a certain look. I expect a level of quality and yes, I too believe that 10K is too much for my budget, but 90% savings on a "good as new" alternative, in my opinion is the best option. Not to mention that a great quality pricey piece adds a level of sophistication to many lesser quality pieces. A great sofa, real piece of original artwork and live plant can make that $20 bargain find vintage lamp look like a million bucks. I knew the value and was more than happy to pay a grand for a used sofa.
So, know your needs and wants. Be realistic with your options and not ridiculous with your expectations. Don't expect to sell your $500 chair five years later for $600, yet offer you neighbor $150 for their $3500 bedroom suite in the same time frame. If you find a $1000 set at a warehouse discount store, but for the same price a better quality by far, with little or no wear and tear...…...consider yourself at the right place and right time and graciously part with the dough. Every once in a while I come across a crazy deal, but they are few and far between and certainly meet a greater number of crazy people with even crazier offers. If they want it for that price, then they can spend their time and money scouring the haunts and walking the walk. Your time is important and you are paying someone else for their worth and the time they have saved you looking for a bottom line savings for all.
Nothing good is cheap. Great things can be affordable, but within reasonable constraints. Enjoy the hunt and the find, but don't lose a great opportunity just because you don't get the last word. If your offer isn't accepted, there is probably a reason. A profit must be made, and if you are still saving much more than you would have been spending, there's your sign. Don't punish someone else for your ego. Know your game, but be a fair player in it. Don't lose an item over a few bucks. Don't offer half...……..that's insulting and ridiculous. Don't assume it's a hobby for the seller. If you aren't a middle man and reselling, than consider it no different than a trip to the fabric store for your quilting passion. You are going to purchase items within the limits of what they offer and your budget. Just because you prefer the $40/yd fabric doesn't mean they have the ability to drop it to $15/yd because you want it. Their cost may be even more than that. We are always looking for a good sale, but re-sell is already a sale. Your savings is already realized in the nature of the business itself.
Know what you want. Study true construction, quality and what that reasonably costs. Look for great quality first, then check the price. That's a good indication if you are in over your head. If you've got $200 to spend, then look in $199 or less bin and see what you can expect. Don't think someone is to demean themselves or prostitute their business or knowledge due to your ignorance. Be smart, but not so much as to assume you know more than those you are dealing with. That's a mistake. If you found the same item for much less somewhere else, don't use it as a bargaining tool, as you just missed the opportunity elsewhere and you are the one that lost.
Enjoy the process and the great finds that await you. But, remember, even Goodwill now has baited the line with a boutique section and someone is going to get hooked. Make sure that the worm you dangle is worthy of your catch. No one wants to be "catfished", but we can all be and live like big fish in our own ponds.