What makes furniture an investment?

Investment furnishings used to be considered the sole realm of antiques or iconic designer pieces. Fortunately, this perception has changed over the years and today, investing in furniture no longer means that you need to restrict your décor to a particular style to suit the piece. To close this year, we take a look at what makes a good furniture investment and why it is a sensible long-term strategy.

(Classic, clean lines and simple detail used perfectly - Image: Stephen Kent Johnson - Elle)

 

The last decade, and especially the last year, has seen an increase in the number of work-from-home households and this trend is set to increase. As such, our home surroundings are becoming more important to our well-being. It makes sense that the need for furniture that fills dual purposes has become increasingly popular.

 With this comes the unavoidable truth that the more wear and tear a furniture piece is subjected to, the more it will need regular maintaining or replacing along the way. Herein lies the argument for good quality investment furniture that is well manufactured and timeless in design.

 The size of the urban home now dictates our furniture choices as never before, and dual-purpose furnishings are the driving the furniture industry. Both the on-line shopping and flatpack (RTA – ready-to-assemble) market has grown in leaps and bounds and offer hundreds of the latest trends and fads, however, the quality is often disappointing and seldom stand the test of time in style or durability.

 Although one can completely furnish a house on a reasonably small budget going the RTA route, mass-produced furniture loses an average 70% of its value over 3 years. Considering this, it makes sense to invest in a good quality furniture item that retains its value when you can afford to. It will save you money in the long term.

 

(Image: the Eames Lounge Chair -1956)

 

Quality is obviously an issue. High-quality furniture is made from high-quality materials. A cheap ‘knock-off’ of a high-end classic won’t look as good as the real thing and definitely won’t stand the test of time.

Remember that trends change. That’s why they are trends; and who wants to end up with a house full of dated furniture in a few years time? If a new design of style of furniture endures over the seasons, it stops being a trend and starts on the road to becoming a future classic. This is why it is best to stick to classic, clean design when considering a furniture investment.

An online pitfall is thinking that one particular item of furniture is going to give you your desired effect. Remember that most images you see are styled by professionals to sell a product and it is often the rooms’ ambience that grabs your attention. Take a moment to filter out all of the accessorising and imagine the furniture piece in your existing room before pressing the Add to Cart button.

Although online shopping has now become the norm and is set to increase, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a personal relationship with your supplier. The sign of a good furniture dealer is their willingness to discuss your purchase with you and answer any questions you may have. This applies to both traditional and online shopping. Personally, I prefer to see an item in the flesh than a skilled stylist and photographer’s work.

I have spoken a lot about what not to do, but how do you actually start to develop a personal style. How do you want your living space to feel to visitors, and more importantly, yourself? Whether your personal preference in Deco or Boho Chic, decide what the centrepiece of the room will be and make that your first investment piece. This is the furniture piece you can anchor your décor on and build your room around over time.

(The La Corbusier Couch - 1928:  Image Magazine Luiza)

 

A good place to start when considering any furniture purchase is the dimensions of your room. Having a good idea of what your size parameters are when considering a room layout and furniture purchase is crucial. Don’t fall into the trap of ordering a piece have seen online that you think will look perfect in your home without looking at the dimensions and options available.

How do you identify a good furniture investment piece? Looking beyond the obvious collector's items, what constitutes a good investment mainly depends on you. A Corbusier chair or Bauhaus table may be a good investment, but is tubular steel and leather your style and will the rest of your furnishings fit in around it?

Don’t fall into the trap of buying something that will ‘make-do’. Making a couch you don’t like look a bit better by buying an ‘OK’ coffee table is defeating the purpose of this exercise. If you don’t love a piece, don’t buy it. This is an investment that you will be living with throughout your life. Don’t ‘make-do’.

(A calming mid-century modern collection personalised with softly toned artefacts  - Image Rafael Soldi)

 

There are numerous elements that make a piece of furniture a good investment; design, durability, practicality, aesthetics... the list goes on, but it ultimately comes down to the pieces that give you top value for your money.

Although you should be prepared to spend more on an investment item, don’t get ripped off by some unscrupulous self-professed expert:

  • Unless you know exactly what you are looking for do some research into furniture in the style you’ve chosen.
  • Clue up on some furniture history (it’s a fascinating subject) and become familiar with some of the designers of the period. This helps in identifying the particular design details that make a furniture item an investment. Knowing the background will also make the piece feel a lot more personal to you.
  • Spend time online checking the average prices of the item you’re looking for. It will give you an idea of what you will need to budget. You will also know if someone is asking over the ball-park average.

The three items that are generally considered the most important when investing in furniture is the couch, the bed, and the dining table. Formal dining rooms are becoming a thing of the past, and as the dining area has been increasingly incorporated into the main living space, so the role of the dining table has changed and is possibly the most multi-used item of furniture in your home.

The dining table is often used as a home office, kid’s homework area, craft or project table, and sometimes even to have a meal off of! Investing in a good quality table manufactured from materials that are both practical and stylish will provide your family with years of service while retaining its looks. Remember, quality is visible, and lasting quality is an investment.

(Classic Design in this dining table from Leonardo - Tables by Design)

 

Don’t just depend on shops or online stores in your hunt for the right investment. Smaller furniture manufacturers can often offer you options that retail outlets can’t. Having a quality piece customised to your perfect dimensions and finish is always a good investment and can’t but help to express your personal style by bringing your story to a room.

The second-hand market can be the ideal place to unearth a treasure Restoring special furniture finds or a much-loved family heirloom is highly recommended if the piece warrants it, but be sure to find the right craftsperson for the job. Unless they come highly recommended from a trusted source, don’t take anyone’s word as to the quality of their work unless they can show you examples and provide some references from past clients.

We will leave this article with something I wish I had learned far earlier in my life, patience. As hard as it might be, living without something until you are certain that you have found the perfect piece isn’t just sensible, it’s grown up! You are investing in your quality of life, and as with most aesthetics, spending time sourcing the right item while spending more money on fewer items will benefit you in the long term.

When you are ready to make a lasting furniture investment, the Leonardo – Tables by Design team are ready to assist in you choosing the ideal piece to bring lasting quality to your home and your life.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season,

Yours in Style - Frank

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