November 2, 2011

Furniture: Cheap vs. Expensive

Is there really a difference between cheap furniture and expensive furniture? Aren't I just paying for the name?

This question seems to come up a lot and it always puzzles me. I don't know why, but it still catches me off guard when someone asks me if a sofa that costs $400 is going to have longevity. I guess I just expect people to know the differences of buying quality items versus cheap items. No, a $400 mass produced, non-warranty sofa will not last as long as a made to order, quality wood frame, lifetime warranty sofa. Up to a certain price point, you are paying for better quality and craftsmanship. Not that opting for the less costly version is wrong. You just need to think about some key points before making your decision.

1. How long are you expecting this piece to last? 
There is a reason more younger people go for Ikea and discount shops. They are looking for items that will work for the time being until they have the cash to invest on something that will be with them for years. First apartment  and newly married furniture isn't the same quality as higher end pieces. Now, if you're one of those people who bores easily and seems to constantly be changing your home design, you wouldn't want to be blowing a bunch of cash on new furniture once every couple of years.

2. Do you have pets and/or kids?
Obviously, kids and pets mean more spills, dirt, destruction, etc. Be aware of the type and quality of materials that are used. In general, cheaper furniture will be made with cheaper materials. There are pros for both sides of this one. Cheaper furniture won't last as long but you also won't be out a ton of money something does get ruined.

3. Are being "Green" or purchasing products made in the USA important to you?
There are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, the really low priced items are manufactured outside of the US and aren't produced with sustainable materials. If you would like to find out more about sustainable options, Sustainable Furnishings Council is a great resource.

My philosophy is... If the price seems to good to be true, don't buy it. If you don't love the piece, don't buy it. If you feel like you're settling, don't buy it.