Open Thread: When Did You Set Up House?

When Did You Set Up House for Yourself? | CorporetteWhen did you first really set up house for yourself — buy dishes and nice furniture? Did you wait until you were married, or when you bought a house or apartment for yourself? When you turned 30? Are you still waiting? I don’t know why this has been on my mind lately, but I just thought it might be an interesting topic.

For my $.02, I had some basic (cheap) stuff — kitchen basics and furniture — from college onward, but it wasn’t until I was 29 or so that I started buying nice dishes and furniture for myself.  This was due to a lot of factors, I suppose:  when I was in my early 20s I was on a tight budget; I spent my middle 20s in law school; and I spent my late 20s working extremely long hours so I was never really home that much.  (I am also about as far as you can get from a domestic goddess like Martha Stewart.)  I do think another big reason is that I spent my 20s, for the most part, single, and didn’t want to “jinx” future happiness/”give up hope” by setting up house by myself. A few random memories around this topic:

a) I remember being around 22 and seeing a silly pizza-shaped plate (pictured above). I was living with a roommate but we didn’t hang out together, and my friends and I all met out and about, so buying plates for myself felt domestic, like something I should only be doing if I had a significant other. I remember feeling… dishonest? hopeful? when I bought two of the plates, because I couldn’t imagine ever using two at the same time.  (Of course we still use them now and we all wish I’d bought more.)

b) I remember a good friend, age 26 or so — possibly going through a fairly big breakup, if memory serves — going to Crate and Barrel and picking out a ton of plates for herself. It seemed very grown up to me at the time, and rebellious in an odd way.  (I was about to go to law school and dorm life again so nice plates were definitely not on the schedule for me.)

c) When I was 29 or so, I remember shopping in Macy’s and for some reason being on the home goods floor — maybe buying a wedding present for a friend? — and seeing a teacup that I absolutely loved (pictured above with the pizza plate). I’m not a big tea drinker, but I’d never really felt that way about a dish — and so I paused. I’d bought jewelry for myself before, and had even considered buying myself an apartment by that point — but to buy dishes for myself just felt weird. I decided to buy four of the tea cups anyway because hey, who knew when I’d love a set of tea cups again so much? (My mother, upon hearing this, went a bit nuts and bought the entire set of dishes for me — and kept seeing them on sale so she’d buy more…)

Of course, I look back now and think, I was a strong, independent woman with savings — why was it so weird to me to buy anything for my home beyond the mere functional?  So I’m curious, readers — when did you upgrade from your college dishes, furniture, and so forth?  When did you set up house for yourself?

Comments

  1. Anne Shirley :

    I’ve been buying little things for the home since college, scaling up to big girl Crate and Barrel furniture in my first post law school apartment. I have lovely linens, oodles of kitchen stuff, but I’m not buying myself a Kitchenaid, fine china, formal flatware or crystal because gosh darn it I wanna register for that someday!

    • A fancy hand mixer is on my future list.

      • I just got married in April and registered for a Kitchenaid. No one bought it for me :( I say just buy what you want now. Don’t count on getting married or some other milestone.

        • No one bought mine either, so the Hubster and I used some of our wedding money to get the one I really wanted. So I consider it a wedding gift — and told the person who gave us the $ what we bought with it.

        • New Bride :

          Kitchenaids are like $800. There wasn’t really anyone in our lives that could contribute that (and wasn’t already contributing heavily to the wedding budget itself, like my father).

          • Anne Shirley :

            Only if you want the ultra top of the line professional model. I see them on registries for under 400 all the time. And they’re always marked fulfilled.

          • I’ve had my 5-quart kitchenaid since 1988. Cost was about $300, probably less since my mother bought it with all the Macy’s coupons and discounts she could get her hands on. I use it weekly and it works perfectly, has never needed a repair, etc. I can’t imagine why I would need a pro model.

          • Anonymous :

            I bought my 5-qt Artisan for like $240 after Kohl’s coupons and ebates. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that’s the model–the one that comes in all the colors–that people are referring to when they say “a KitchenAid.”

          • The artisan model that most people get is more in the $300-400 range.

          • Anonymous :

            I think my first post got eaten, but I was going to also add that the 5-qt Artisan that comes in all the different colors is nowhere near $800. I paid around $250 at Kohl’s during a 20 or 25% off period and using eBates. I think that’s the model most people get and think of when they say “a KitchenAid.”

    • Originally, I thought I would wait to get married and ask for a KitchenAid then. I love baking and cooking, and realized that I would get years of use out of it before I was even engaged. I use it several times a week now. Sure, it’s an extra appliance to move/keep on the counter, but I think every person has their item that makes an apartment/house their home, and for me, my mixer is it.

      That said, cooking gadgets are my weakness. I only have four plates and six glasses, but I have a whole drawer full of non-essential stuff (microplane zester, cookie scoop, pastry brush, etc.). Fortunately these don’t take up too much space :)

      • anon in tejas :

        i use my microplane all the time. i shred hard cheeses, grate ginger, grate garlic. it’s one of my most favorite kitchen tools.

      • Gail the Goldfish :

        My mother bought me a Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday this year because “at this rate, you’re never getting married, so I thought I should go ahead and buy it for you.” and it’s awesome. (This is the same mother who told me to pick out a china pattern for myself and she’d buy me a piece a year. I’m 28. I live in a tiny NYC apartment. What am I going to do with nice china?)(also, Mom, BF and I will get around to getting married when we get around to it and have the money…)

        • Gail the Goldfish :

          I have no other adult furniture or appliances, though, except for one AllClad saute pan, also a present from my mother. Everything else is Ikea or various other randomly acquired pieces. I figure one day I’ll have matching furniture made of real wood, but not until after the law school loans are paid back.

        • What are you going to do with nice China? Throw a dinner party and use your fancy China and stop waiting for your next life to begin. ;)

          • I love variety – so I made a point of getting white Lillian Vernon, and use it daily. The variation comes with the placemats, tablecloths and napkins – for formal, holiday and casual. The only exception is the cups and saucers – we have plenty of mugs, so they get used for desserts (mousse & puddings with fruit) mini-desserts get put in shot glasses, with a few reserved for coffee.

            Soup plates get the most action after plates.

            I don’t have space/time for a formal set, as well as dealing with breakage & replacement.

    • A KitchenAid was one of the first nice household things I bought myself after college/ starting my first job. Sure, it’s a four quart, but it cost me $100 on Craigslist and I used it tons before I got married, and use it to this day. I might upgrade at some point, but even with lots of bread making, etc. it does the job pretty darn well.

      It kind of drives me nuts that people wait for marriage to get good kitchen stuff. I cooked (still do) all the time- you can bet I wasn’t waiting to ask for a good saucepan until I got married, not with generous parents and Christmas just around the corner…

      And even without generous parents, Craigslist is a cornucopia of other people’s unused wedding registry items.

  2. I started buying household things (pretty mismatched plates, some art for the wall) when I was living / working in SF. And then I promptly moved to Europe. I’m starting to feel a bit more settled and looking forward to hanging things on the walls / investing in nice things.

  3. I guess I see it the opposite way. I live alone in my house, but rather than feeling like I can’t start living until I have a SO to share it with, I’m using this time to set everything up exactly how I want it while no one can possibly disagree. It’s so much fun to decorate it and I don’t have to deal with anyone complaining about pink walls.

    • I agree with Pippi. I would LIKE to be MARRIED and have a husband to do the dishes and stuff in the celler, but now, I onley have an apartement in the city b/c I have a JOB in the city where I am earning money, and hopefully lookeing to find the RIGHT guy who will buy me a house in a place near ROSA like Chapaqua, and then we can have children and HE can work and I can raise the children in the suburb’s.

      So I realy can NOT buy furniture or even alot of kitchen stuff, b/c there is NOT alot of room in the kitchen, even tho MOM send’s alot of food home with me when I go out to LI. I have a few recipees that I willtry on the RIGHT guy, but do NOT want the wrong guy that I will have to get divorced from. FOOEY on that. I need a guy with alot of money, a great job, and a great personalty who will be abel to complement everything that I bring to the table.

      The manageing partner keep’s mentioning his nephew, but he is balding at age 23, so what will he be when he is 30? OMG, no way will my children be bald. DOUBEL FOOEY ON THAT!

      Sam is OK, but his British accent is not sootheing to me, and I do NOT want to have to see his winkie all the time. Rosa says alot of women are after him b/c of his accent, but I am not seduced by that, nor his winkie. She said I would have to act fast, but I say I have to think that one out first. We will see. He does have a nice car tho.

    • LOL, I love that mindset. Sometimes I wish I had had time to have a “real” apartment to myself post-college to do however I wish. Graduate school kind of ate that.

    • I did the same thing – I started buying art in college (not super expensive, just nice stuff from art fairs), and started buying good furniture after college. Lots of friends and family members disprove (and it has made apartment hunting more difficult since I own things like a queen sized bed and a sectional couch), but it makes me so happy every day to come home and be surrounded by comfortable, beautiful things.

  4. Anonymous Biglaw Associate :

    I decided to do this right after law school, and for me that was at 29. I am very much into cooking and like housegoods and furniture. I really enjoyed putting my apartment together. I was renting at the time (still am, as I live in an expensive housing market). I got things on the nicer end, but not excessively lavish. I opted for Fiestaware for my dishes, mid-range Riedel wine/drinking glasses, Global knives, an All Clad set on sale, and Calphalon baking pans. For furniture, I got a lot of things at Scandanavian designs (including a lovely light cherry bedroom set, leather sofa and arm chair, and a walnut writing desk). I discovered the Greenington line of bamboo furniture and went with that for a cafe table, stools, and wine cabinet. For linens, I went with Natori and Vera Wang things from Macy’s (on sale and with a discount code). It was a series of somewhat major expenditures to get it set up, and I don’t regret it at all. And I think my other half will like already having all this stuff when we move in together soon. :)

  5. DINCs for now :

    Sorry for the early TJ, and going anon for this. My spouse and I recently interviewed with a co-op board and were approved. Hooray! During our interview, we inquired about the two-person per unit occupancy limit and our plans to start a family in 3-5 years. One member of the board stressed that the policy is two people–ironically enough, this board member is our future neighbor. The board president, however, acknowledged that the board is limited under the law from, well, I can’t exactly remember what he said. He also noted that the building does not currently have any shareholders with children. I don’ t know much about housing law, but I do understand that it is illegal to discriminate against owner/tenants on the basis of familial status. The unit we’re in the process of buying has 2 bedrooms and is relatively large. Does the law protect us from the co-op board refusing to increase our unit’s occupancy limit to three people, should I get pregnant?

    • They sound pretty baby-unfriendly, whether they can legally enforce that attitude or not. I think you need to consider not just whether you’re protected under the law, but whether you want to buy in a building/with neighbours that will cause problems and complain every time your baby cries. Grumpy neighbours can be miserable as is – grumpy neighbours plus new baby does not sound like a happy way to live. I would look for a more family-friendly building with other young families just to preserve your own sanity in the future.

      • DINCs for now :

        @Marilla, I agree with you in theory. But the housing market where we are buying is so tight right now, that just wasn’t something we could seriously consider. Since we aren’t sure when we plan on starting a family, it also made sense for us to subordinate this concern to other priorities, such as size, location, price, resell ability, etc.

        • It sounds like you may be in NYC. If that’s the case, consider that leaving the building on bad terms with the board could also impact your resell ability as the board will need to approve your future tenants. Not to mention that the market will not always be like this and not being able to sell a two bedroom to anyone other than a childless couple (I’m assuming they don’t allow co-purchasing either if they have a strict policy like this re: occupancy) will also be a potential issue.

    • I seem to recall that limiting the number is allowed by federal law, while limiting the “type” of person is not. They can’t say “no kids” but they can say 2 people. But some states and cities might have different rules.

      I also think that there are upper limits set by other regulations, such as 200 square feet of living space per person.

    • Housing attorney weighing in here: occupancy policies that arbitrarily restrict housing choice for families with children are illegal. HUD uses an occupancy standard of 2 people per bedroom (so 4 people in a two-bedroom apartment); standards that are more restrictive are generally presumed to be discriminatory against families with children. Look up the federal Fair Housing Act for more information.

      • DINCs for now :

        Thanks @J. This is basically what I understood after researching this area of the law, but I feel much better with your verification in mind.

  6. I didn’t set up a house until I got married (more accurately, the year we lived together before the wedding). Partly out of laziness because who knows when my roommate and I were going to move and if one of my hand-me down plates got broke or we lost some IKEA forms, no one would cry about it.

    Kat, how often do you use the china/teacup set you bought? Our “nice” wedding dishes are pretty much unused, unless we have family in town. I also bought a teacup set from an estate sale…but I don’t drink tea often.

    • We use the Mikasa dishes all the time — they’re our every day ones — and they’ve held up so poorly that if and when we move out of this apartment we may just chuck them rather than bother moving them. (Massive cracks and chips.) The whole collection was eventually so far discounted that I wonder if the manufacturer didn’t know it. We have another set of fine china — Lennox? I forget — that we only use for the occasional dinner party.

    • Merabella :

      We have Lennox china that we use daily – the chirp pattern. It is a sturdier china, not bone china. They have held up great, and I put them to the test on the regular. I have dropped several bowls and plates and haven’t had any issues with breaking. I highly suggest them.

      We didn’t bother to get “fancy” china – we figured we would never use it and would rather get stuff that we would use often.

  7. I didn’t start buying really nice stuff until I got married three years ago. I like to bake and always wanted a KitchenAid stand mixer, but waited until the wedding until I got one (it was not worth it to me to take up valuable counter space, plus face moving it every 1-3 years). During my early 20s, I used to buy a few plates here and there in patterns I liked, but never a full set of dishes — it just felt too “settled” for single me in tiny apartments. Why did I need a set of 8 matching plates when it was never more than me — and maybe someone else?

    That said, there are still “nice” things I wish I had that I don’t: a set of everyday dinnerware that I like (currently using my grandma’s hand-me-downs), a place to display my fancy china that I love (it’s still in the box *sigh*), and getting rid of / upgrading all of the stuff that I feel says “college / singleton” — but we’re actively getting out of debt / save up for a down payment so I’m trying to keep my eye on that prize. And making a mental list of all of the nice things I’d like to purchase with cash in our new house ;)

  8. Calibrachoa :

    I first set up my own household when I was 18; A ton of things came form my mother’s house or were donated from other relatives, but I was also able to get a few decent pieces of furniture (which have since then been adopted by my mother)

    However, when I was 21 I moved to a different country and here, most rental apartments come furnished which was extremely handy for me as you can imagine. I thus have no furniture of my own but I have invested in good linens, good kitchenware, etc. Although I admit I still have this habit of going for the cheapest option possible and hitting all the thrift shops for mismatched pieces because that’s how I like it. I am planning on buying some more storage that will be easily taken with me if I move again because of my, ah, wardrobe habit, but I won’t be committing to any large pieces soon. The current market for housing here is in such shambles, I have no desire to stop renting any time soon, a decision that admittedly has been influenced by the fact that my ex had a mortgage on his place and so did the other bloke I have been that serious about in the past few years.

    I admit, I miss having a house where I hand-picked everything, as jumbled up as it was. And I really look forward to eventually getting a “proper” house but as it is, being 28, still very junior in my career, and not 100% certain I will stay in this country, I will just have to satisfy my nesting urges while dealing with renting.

  9. I started buying/inheriting good quality furniture right after law school when I was living in a nice apartment by myself. I also bought good quality linens and a huge TV (you call tell where my priorities are). Then I changed careers, moved in with my parents for 2 months (and stuck my stuff in storage), then lucked into a great, but mostly furnished, house rental in my dream neighborhood, with a roommate. Now I’m 27, three years out of law school, paying to store a 2-bedroom house worth of furniture and accumulated stuff, and only have my clothing, a few pieces of bedroom furniture, linens, and aforementioned huge TV with me in my current place. At this point I’m glad I splurged on the TV and linens, as they’re the only things of mine I’m currently living with, and I’m very glad I didn’t start collecting dishes and kitchen appliances. I plan on buying a house in the next couple years, and will start slowly collecting things like dishes and art as I need/find them.

  10. Anonymous :

    Not until I got married, which was a few months after graduating law school. Before that nearly everything my husband and I had was a hand-me-down or from Target/Ikea/etc. Not to say I still don’t buy from Target and Ikea but now we have nice things from the wedding and have made more substantial purchases from stores that are a little higher end– i.e. west elm, crate and barrel, pottery barn.

  11. TO Lawyer :

    I’ve been living in my condo for two years and should start actually settling in but I still have all my Ikea furniture from law school. I’ve found new “grownup” furniture I actually like but I’m having trouble pulling the trigger. I think now I’m going to start really settling in and stop waiting for something to happen or the next step to invest in my home.

  12. Interesting question. My experience is probably pretty atypical, but it was a very gradual process. My mom took me out to buy pre-college stuff when I was 18 – my school had apartment-style housing, so that involved some dish-buying. I got married at 21, and about 6 months before then, my (now) husband’s parents moved out-of-state, but thought it would be fairly short term, so they kept the house and we stayed there. They left a lot of their stuff, so we used that and my college stash for a while. When we moved out of their house, we took what we needed (with their blessing! Some other family members moved in after that, and the in-laws eventually sold it). Also, we got some nice stuff for wedding gifts. Over time since then (more than 10 years), we’ve just gradually gotten more and better stuff as gifts and when we’ve caught it on sale or actually needed or really wanted it. I

    ‘m the sort who will “make-do” for ages before I actually go out and buy something, so it’s just been piecemeal, but we have a very nice collection now. And a soon-to-be-toddler, who will surely destroy it all in due time. :)

  13. For the record: I’m 29, single, graduated law school 4 years ago, and have absolutely no idea if I qualify as having “set up house” yet. I guess I’ve never worried about it.

    I’ve lived in four different apartments since college and have gradually accumulated things as I moved around and combined stuff with various roommates. I have a lot of inherited furniture, some nice and some slightly ratty, but I also have things I bought myself. My dishes are from Target, but I store them in a beautiful china cabinet. My couch is the same beast my brother and I used to build cushion forts out of as kids, but most of my serving dishes are handmade works of art by a potter I know. Etc, etc. Does any of that qualify me as a grown-up?

    As each year goes by, my “house” gets tougher and tougher to move– more heavy furniture, framed pictures, lamps– so in that sense, my life is getting more permanent. It’s a little frustrating, since I’m nowhere near ready to settle down in one of those mythical “forever homes,” but what else can I do? I can’t put my life on hold until I find the location and job where I want to stay forever.

    I know what you mean, though; my mother engaged in some extensive hand-wringing when I bought matching silverware in 2010. We had a very entertaining discussion/fight about whether a woman should wait to be given all her household items as wedding gifts. She eventually conceded that getting married was not something you did just because you needed matching towels, and if I wanted silverware, I should just buy some damn silverware.

    Oh– and it’s nice silverware. I’m glad I bought it. :)

    • I love this about the conversation with mom. I grew up in a very traditional, God-fearing family. I didn’t marry until I was thirty (an old age compared to my sisters). Eventually my mom agreed that I shouldn’t have to get married to have nice housewares or have sex (threadjack?). Thanks, mom!

    • I agree. I am married, graduated 6 years ago, and most of my furniture is from Goodwill and other consignment stores or even picked up from the sidewalk in NYC (everything other than the bed and a coach). But it is all pretty and everyone thinks my “house” is fully furnished and grown-up. I have a nice china set and nice silverwear we got for our wedding, but we use them every day, because life is too short to only enjoy nice things when you have fancy guests. We also bought very nice red-wine glasses, but we did not bother to buy the kinds of glasses for drinks we don’t drink (white wine, champagne…). Like you with your art serving dishes, we have collected crafts (including paintings, sculptures and dishes) from our travels so our home is fully decorated.

  14. My aunt (who is also my godmother) started buying me dishes for birthdays and Christmas when I was about 12 or 13. She picked a pretty pattern from Pier 1, and I slowly began amassing this collection. Sortof like you would put in a hope chest, I guess. I don’t know if she discussed it with my mom, but she definitely didn’t clear it with me first.

    When I was 12 I thought it was a little weird, but I would dutifully add each new piece to the collection. I lived with roommates in college and worried about the nice dishes breaking, but I started to use them in law school and I love them.

    All my other furniture/household goods are pretty cheap still. I’m currently staying with family, but planning on relocating soon and I think I’ll start buying “nice” stuff then as I can afford it. I have to say I relish the idea of decorating exactly as I like: in college I had roommates, in law school I had no money. And immediately after law school I STILL had no money and lived with a boyfriend who was very boring and very opinionated re: home decor. After we broke up, I immediately bought a very colorful, gorgeous comforter that he would have hated. I’m really excited to set up house exactly as I want!

  15. Don’t wait!

    The BEST thing I’ve ever done, that I will always remember fondly was when I bought my own condo and lived alone right after college. I had some great things from college (thanks to mom – she always pushed me to get the right thing the first time, rather than the cheap thing) like a full set of corelle dishware (that I still use now, 10 years later!) but I spent the first couple months setting everything up for myself. And I loved it. But after a while of living there I realized I’d made some poor choices…but I talked myself into waiting, thinking my boyfriend at the time and I would eventually move in/get married and everything would change anyways.

    We broke up and I used that time to be completely independent for a while. I sold everything I didn’t like, redecorated my whole place with things I loved. Almost all of those things came with me when I moved to San Francisco and now that my current boyfriend and I live together – those things simply became ours.

    This fallacy that women share – that we don’t fully exist or aren’t fully actualized until marriage or an SO – is just that, a complete fallacy. Set up YOUR life, YOUR way – a husband is someone to share that with, not someone to define that for you. I’ll always remember that little condo and my bachelorette appt in SF, with a smile, that will always be a part of me even as I start to build a shared life with someone else. No man is going to come in and say “well – I wasn’t there when you bought those dishes so they’ve got to go!” haha. and if he does I’d say that’s a red flag…

  16. Equity's Darling :

    I’m 26, but I’ve been out of law school for a couple years- I feel like I should “set-up house” but I really have no desire to put in the required work to find things I like, etc. I don’t even know what style I like, it varies from day to day, so I’m really hesitant to commit to anything.

    I’m going to bet I don’t do it until I get married or buy my own place. I’m hoping to buy sometime in the next couple years or so, so I should probably put more thought into what things I like for setting up house.

  17. I’ll let you know when it happens! 25, still living with roommates. I bought myself a nice set of bedroom furniture on pretty deep discount when I graduated from college but other than that I’ve been moving roughly once per year so it hasn’t seemed worth it to buy nice stuff that may become lost/broken. Most of what we have now are hand me downs or IKEA/Target purchases. New silverware and a nice set of knives are at the top of my list for whenever I move to a place that’s more permanent.

    • Even one or two knives makes a huge difference. You’re so much more efficient with good knives.

    • Same here! My mom bought me a couple of good knives, a copper-bottomed pot, two pyrex bowls, and 3 corningware containers from Ebay; I bought myself some pretty artisan ceramic bowls/teacups earlier this year, and everything else I have comes from Ikea, Target, Costco, and discount/dollar stores. Honestly, at the rate that my spoons keep on mysteriously disappearing, it doesn’t make sense to invest in high quality silverware.

      That being said, I wish I had a little more income so I could afford a nice bedframe and a real wooden dresser. At least I don’t have to worry about finding nice art for my walls, that’s the advantage of being a hobbyist nature photographer.

  18. I got married and moved in with my husband when I was 26. We got a lot of items for the kitchen as wedding gifts, but our furniture was mostly just leftovers from college and we didn’t buy many new things ourselves. We bought a house 2 years later and at that point we hired a decorator and bought nice furniture. Just recently I’ve been thinking of doing a second round to finish up the house, get a new blender/food processor as the wedding gifts are showing some wear, and get new everyday dishwear – we have nice china from the wedding but still using the old college plates and bowls for everyday!

  19. I bought nice dishes when I still lived with my parents so that when I moved out I wouldn’t have to buy them. I think I always knew that I wanted to elope and wouldn’t have a gift registry (and that’s what I ended up doing). I used the dishes for a couple of years when I lived with roommates and on my own. I relocated across the country in my mid 20’s and ended up leaving the dishes behind. I don’t know if my parents gave the dishes away or what. After relocating, I bought a condo right away and got nice furniture, lived by myself for five years and then got married. Nearly 20 years later, my husband and I still have the bedroom furniture. In retrospect, it was nice not having those extra expenses on top of a new mortgage and all the other things you need when moving to a different home.

  20. Guess I’m still waiting despite being married for five years and living by myself for five years before that. I have nice kitchen/dining stuff, but my furniture is a combination of hand me downs and craigslist. DH is annoyingly against replacing things for purely aesthetic reasons. I have a reoccurring daydream where I pretend I lost all my worldly possessions in a fire and get to start over.

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