2021 Update: We still think this was a really fun discussion on when to buy grown-up furniture — but you may want to check out our more recent discussion of the best places to buy furniture (with TONS of reader comments and reviews).
There was a fun discussion a while ago in the comments section — where do you go for furniture when you’re upgrading from Ikea (or otherwise buying “grown up furniture“)? I thought it might be fun to round up the answers, and perhaps to start a series on “the next step.” (We’ll obviously do fashion as the next one in the series — are there any other categories you would be interested in, ladies?)
Furniture is a really funny thing — it tends to stay with you for years, so hopefully you like the purchases you make. Post-school budgets don’t always allow you to buy the good stuff, though, so for me (and most of my friends) we “leveled” up after our first few years in the work place — but only if we could find something we loved.
For example: When I was setting up my first post-grad school apartment, I compromised on a blue leather sleeper couch from Ikea, thinking, hey, I need a place to sit, and I can always buy a new one in a few years. After my husband and I got married we visited a TON of shops for new couches, prepared to spend money (he haaates the couch), but we didn’t quite find anything we loved, so we tabled the discussion… and then got pregnant. The Ikea couch is still a big “meh” in our house, but we are thrilled that we didn’t buy a new, non-leather couch whenever my son decides to do something silly, like eat yogurt with his hands. (Why, Jack… why?)
We did “level up” with our bedroom furniture and dining room furniture, though, after trying to read a bit about furniture shopping…. In the bedroom, my parents generously gave us a housewarming gift of a bedroom set from Homestead Furniture in Amish Country (in Ohio, my home state), and my parents-in-law graciously got us a rug when they went on vacation to Turkey. That’s my husband pictured, clowning around with our massive mule chest).
Some purchases have been lucky — we’ve bought a number of rugs from online flash sale sites like Hautelook, Rue La La, and One Kings’ Lane, which have all turned out fine for the quality we need right now (see above re: Mr. Yogurt Hands).
We have unfortunately made a few purchases I regret, including a china hutch and credenza from a mass market store — they were floor models so were already dinged when we got them, and the little details bug me, like drawers that don’t extend all the way (and break easily).
Otherwise… my son is still using my old Ikea bedroom furniture (that stuff holds up, I will say that!), most of our lamps are still from JC Penney (I forget how I found their lighting department, but I generally like the stuff we’ve gotten, including the huge hanging lamp we have over the dining table), and, well, the couch is still the couch.
Readers, when did you buy nice furniture? What stores did you go to when you decided to “level up”? Has anyone made special trips, such as to North Carolina, for furniture?
The commenters tossed out a ton of ideas for furniture stores they consider for “grown up” furniture, including:
- Ashley Furniture
- Dania Furniture
- Ethan Allen
- Home Decorators Collection
- Jonathan Louis
- Lancaster Handcraft
- Macy’s (the furniture and mattress sale starts 10/8, actually!)
- Pier One
- Pottery Barn
- Room & Board
- West Elm (offering free shipping, today only)
- Wolf’s Furniture
- World Market
- Craigslist, resale shops, and boutique sites like forgottenfurniture.com.
For my own $.02, I would also include:
- Design Within Reach
- Restoration Hardware
- Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams
- The Conran Shop
- Special furniture trips to places like North Carolina and (if you happen to be in Ohio, my home state), Amish Country — it’s where we got our bedroom furniture (a very generous housewarming present from my parents)
- Warehouses and outlets — for example, we haven’t found anything we’ve loved, but we always visit the clearance section of ABC Carpet & Home when we’re near there, and would probably make a trip to the warehouse outlet the next time we’re looking for something specific…
- Ask about floor models when you visit stores — and don’t be afraid to try to negotiate with the sales person, particularly if you’re ready to make a purchase that day.
- You may also want to sign up for a store’s mailing list (Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, etc.) to try to get a sense of the sales flow — for example, if Crate & Barrel is having a huge sale on outdoor furniture in August, it would stink to buy it at full price in July.
- Finally — if you’re visiting a big store like Macy’s, ask what kind of discount you’ll get if you open up a credit card that day… it may be worth it.
Readers, where have you bought grown-up furniture? Did you luck out with some inexpensive purchases? Do you regret any purchases you made while leveling up? Do you have any pieces you love, or pieces you hunted forever on Craigslist?