He Says She Says 21/10/10
This week: Buy cheap, buy twice?
It’s time for a pre-Christmas makeover at Day Mansions. The transformation is now underway - I say transformation, but my wife Debbie is insistent that the curtains must stay. Some years ago, these curtains cost a small fortune because they were handmade – justifying, says my wife, the £1,500 they cost. It still makes me giddy to think about it, but they are of exceptional quality and so they must stay. We will be buying new furniture and I believe you buy the best you can afford as opposed to my co-host Su’s belief that you should buy cheap tat and replace it regularly as it will always go out of fashion.
Last weekend, the Day family went on a trip to Audley End House up near Saffron Walden. I was mesmerised by the beautiful pieces of furniture that were hundreds of years old yet truly timeless. They were made to a level of quality that would have you turning off the TV just to stare at the furniture. Of course, such antiquities are just a little out of my price range – but I do question why you would surround yourself with rubbish just to keep up with the flatpack brigade. Inevitably, you’ll end up spending more in the long run when your sofa goes saggy or the bottoms pop out of the dresser. Buying cheap is a fool’s economy. The old phrase “you get what you pay for” springs to mind.
If you must, be a slave to fashion but be prepared to be disappointed when that fashionable mass-produced junk fails to make it onto future episodes of Antiques Roadshow.
I remember the old black lacquer and smoke glass of the 80s - all of which has ended up in landfills - and yet a good quality table decades earlier will still be giving years of service and is a thing of beauty. Don’t throw yourself into debt buying stuff you can’t afford just buy the best you can and get more satisfaction long term.
In the last ten years I have moved house four times and in the process have had to buy furniture and furnishings for each property. Each time, I have also had to get rid of some large items too due to the move, so I believe that there is absolutely no point in buying things for the house that are so expensive that you can’t bear to part with them.
I still have vivid memories of my mum being in tears over a dining room table. Her distress was because it had cost her and my dad a lot of money and when we had to downsize, it was too big for the new house. My mum was loath to part with it and forced my poor sister to have it because her house was just big enough. I don’t think she actually wanted it but has been stuck with it now for the last 25 years.
My point is if my mum and dad had bought a cheap yet functional table, she wouldn’t have had this dilemma when we moved.
Surely it's better to buy furniture that serves a purpose as well as looking nice rather than something so expensive that you have to keep it when you decorate even if you don’t want to.
When I moved from my flat to the house I am in now, I had to get rid of the sofa that had been in the flat since it wouldn’t fit into the new lounge; I wasn’t upset about passing it onto a friend who needed a sofa at the time because I had brought it in the sale and had it for about 3 years, it went and I brought a new, reasonably priced sofa for this house.
I’m not advocating a throwaway society, but furniture is furniture, there are lots of good places to buy it from without breaking the bank and when I’ve finished with it I don’t just bin it, I find a new home for it or pass it onto the charity shops, so everyone is happy.