Thanks so much for all of your prayers and well-wishes as I heal from having my wisdom teeth removed. I am just now starting to feel a bit more like myself. The surgery went well, but my two bottom teeth were impacted and, apparently, a little difficult to remove. I was on a bunch of medication for pain, swelling and to prevent infection, so I spent several days teetering between sleeping and binge-watching shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’m still having trouble with chewing, speaking and smiling and I’m pretty sore as well, but I’m making slow improvements.
I can type, though!
A few days ago, I received an e-mail from one my readers and I decided I would answer the question in a post. Debbie asked, “How do you decide what to spend $$ on and pieces to invest in if there is the possibility your beloved hunting scene chair 10 years later you hate? I have a hard time letting go if I put a lot of loot into a piece hence the giant dresser hiding out in the closet that goes with nothing. Love your decorating, your rooms look wonderful.”
I love the comment about the dresser in the closet. How many of us have shoved an unwanted dresser in a closet, so it can remain functional, but we don’t have to look at it!
So, I’m not going to claim to be the authority on investment pieces for the home, but I understand Debbie’s hesitation to spend good money on something she might dislike in a few years. I am notoriously fickle when it comes to the choices for my home, so I thought I would share how I approach purchasing large-ticket items. And, on the flip side, how I deal with nice pieces that are no longer my taste.
I think, as a general rule, investment pieces should be those that anchor a room…staples that the accessories and small furnishings work around and play a supporting role to. Those would be sofas, bed frames, rugs, nice curtains, maybe a pair of upholstered chairs, a dining set, a piece of original art, a fine antique buffet or cabinet, etc. Those don’t have to be investment pieces, but they often are.
So, what should you look for in an investment piece?
First of all, you have to love it. Not just like it or think your affection will grow for it or that you can maybe make it work. You have to over-the-moon love it. It should make you giddy and quicken the pace of your heart. If it doesn’t do those things, put the checkbook away and wait for something that does.
It shouldn’t be a passing fancy. If you have recently found that you’re all about shabby, romantic French decor right on the heels of your mid-century mod love affair that happened a year after everything hunter green with cabriole legs floated your boat, you might want to take a deep breath and not invest in a piece until you settle on the style you love. Look at the things you have loved for years and years and follow that style.
It should be classic. That doesn’t mean it has to be traditional or classic in style, but something that has stood and can stand the test of time. Think of this piece as the white button-up shirt and blue blazer in your closet. I like to look at dated decorating books on occasion to see what would still look nice today. That’s a good cue for what pieces are timeless.
It should be quality. My in-laws have a sampler on their wall that reads, “Things of quality have no fear of time.” That’s so true when it comes to furnishings. Think wool rugs, solid wood furniture with dovetail joints, solid brass fixtures, sterling silver, woven linens. You want to buy quality, not only so it lasts, but so it will hold it’s value.
And that last point brings us to what to do when you have fallen out of love with an investment piece or maybe you just don’t have the perfect space for it. All may not be lost. Can you reinvent the piece? Maybe the chairs can be slipcovered or reupholstered or the piece can be refinished or painted. Find a new use for a piece that isn’t functional for its intended purpose, but could be very functional for another purpose. (Like turning a vanity into a desk or a dowry chest into a coffee table.)
If it’s just not going to work, you should never feel obligated to keep something in your home that you don’t use and/or love. It doesn’t matter who gave it to you or how much money you spent on it or how “good” it still is. Your home shouldn’t be a storage unit or museum. I think there can be a few exceptions here, but if there’s something that isn’t functional and/or you don’t love it, why keep it? Why not sell it and replace it with something you do love that will be functional? If the thing you want to replace is something of quality, you should be able to sell it on consignment, at auction, on Craig’s List or eBay, etc. and recoup most of your investment. You may even make a profit!
I think you’ll find there is a real freedom in letting go of things you felt obligated to keep just because of their initial cost.
I hope my thoughts were helpful to you, Debbie!