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  • Writer's pictureBre Oriolo

Buying Cheap: A Cautionary Tale

dining room
how it started

Recently I've been redesigning our dining room. But Bre, didn't you JUST buy all new dining room furniture three years ago? Why yes, dear reader, I did. And it's falling apart. Our dining table has a white lacquer table top. It's dinged, dented, and the lacquer is chipping off everywhere. The retailer offered us a lacquer repair kit that somehow actually made it look worse! Our faux leather chairs? They're ripping apart at the seems. But guess what? I got them at Target, and only paid $80 a piece for them. I'm not knocking Target, I LOVE Target for so many things. Quality, lasting furniture is not one of those things.

So Why Did We "Buy Cheap"?

how it's going...ripped seems

I have a few different responses to this. One, when we moved to this house, we were buying almost all new furniture. Add that up, and it was a lot of money. Two, Target chairs aside, for some pieces we did invest a good bit of money. Because we were purchasing from certain retailers, we thought we were getting quality pieces. Three, at that time I was just starting this interior decorating business and didn't know what I now know about the furniture industry. I didn't have the access I now have to quality furniture vendors.

Did Anything Last?

Yes! The rug, which was my inspiration for the space and pulled the room together, is holding up so well. You probably won't be surprised to know I invested the most money on the rug. Also, as a side note, don't let anyone tell you a rug is a bad idea for a dining room. I love rugs for dining rooms. We have three boys aged 15, 12, and 2; we also have a dog and at one time, a cat (RIP Whodey). Let this be an encouragement to you to get a rug for your dining space if you don't already have one! I digress. The other piece that has held up is our sideboard/buffet piece. It's from the 1950's. My mother in law got it for Patrick + me at a yard sale along with a dining table + chair set. Cool story on that- we got it from one of my former kindergarten families. The furniture has been in their family for years. I passed along the table + chairs to a friend when we bought our current house because we wanted an expandable dining table. Definitely kicking myself for getting rid of it! I'm never getting rid of the buffet piece, though. It's sturdy, holds memories of my first house, and I love the MCM style!

Lessons Learned

"Buy the best and you'll only cry once." - Miles Redd

If you want lasting, quality furniture, know that you will have to invest more money for that. If you buy cheap, expect to keep replacing that furniture every few years. For full service decorating clients, one of the very first things I do is draw up a furniture proposal. After seeing the space(s), I create a list of proposed furniture needed. I also give an estimate for what my client can expect to invest for those pieces. We have all the money discussions up front, so clients know what to expect. And just because you CAN pay $80 for a dining room chair, doesn't mean that you should. I always do my best to stay within clients' investment ranges (after discussing realistic numbers), AND my goal is never to find the cheapest furniture. My goal is quality, lasting furniture + decor that achieves a certain look and function.

Not ready to invest at that level? I get it. Full service decorating truly is a luxury service. That's why I offer services at three different levels, no matter what your investment level is. Check all services out here.

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