The Next Step: Furniture

Where to Buy Grown Up Furniture | CorporetteThere 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).  We also eventually bought a dining room table from Jensen Lewis, as well as a rocking recliner from Best Chairs‘ Storytime Series.  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:

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?


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  1. oil in houston :

    This is a very good timing as we’re looking at buying a nursery. But when we upgraded our furniture 3 years ago following a move, we bought from:
    – Restoration Hardware, was a bit pricey, but couldn’t find anything else we liked
    – Pottery Barn, although I’m disappointed by the wear and tear our coffee table is already showing
    – Star furniture, and we might buy a bigger bed from them too, really good quality stuff
    – Crate & Barrel
    – Gallery Furniture, we bought a desk and again shows wear and tear quite a bit
    Overall, I wouldn’t diss Ikea completely though, some of their stuff (sofas in particular) are really good quality

  2. Senior Attorney :

    My first husband and I bought Thomasville a dining room set for our first house, way back when I first graduated from law school. I still love it but it’s showing its age so I just painted the chairs silver and they look great. I had to laugh, though, because my designer kept going on and on about my awesome “vintage” dining room furniture, and I kept saying “uh, it was new when I bought it. In, uh, 1988…”

    Next up: Painting the Ethan Allen bedroom set from 1994.

    More recently, I’ve bought a couple of very nice leather armchairs from Home Decorators Collection, and a nice desk/vanity from Pottery Barn Kids, of all places.

    • I hope this isn’t off topic . . . did you do anything to prep the chairs for painting? Did you use regular spray paint? I am a DIY idiot, but have a few small things that need a coat of paint and am wondering what I need to do to prep them. I have been too lazy to Google (also, I keep getting distracted). You can see why I $uck at DIY.

      • Anon in NYC :

        Check out Young House Love. They’ve spray painted a bunch of stuff and I’d bet you’d find some answers in their archives.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Roughed them a little with fine-gauge sandpaper, sprayed ’em with primer, then painted on Ralph Lauren silver paint with a brush.

        I understand Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is pretty expensive but can be used on almost any surface with no prep whatsoever. A friend of mine swears by it!

  3. I’m surprised no mention of Crate & Barrel and cb2! I do a lot of research and measuring and thinking before all of my furniture purchases, only buying pieces I have thought about for a while and loved and also researched the best time to buy. I don’t think I purchased a single piece of furniture or item for the home – either functional or decorative- in my place for full price. I also like the webs!te AllModern, but modern is not everyone’s taste.

  4. Two Cents :

    Absolutely love Room and Board. Not cheap, but fantastic quality and all made in the USA. Super sleek and contemporary.

    • +1

    • This. I am “leveling up” from the IKEA+1 furniture I bought post grad school it has been through 4 moves and 8 years and is now super uncomfortable. Plus, I just finished getting new paint and carpets in the house (finally! It “only” took 4 years…) so the time is right.

      The bf and I went to Room and Board on Sunday to look for my new couch. I did a bunch of online research, and for the quality, you can not get a better price.

      I have actually found some great accents at the Bed Bath and Beyond site too. I am on the lookout for those 20% off coupons! I am also planning to staulk the home goods store near me for throw pillows and accessories.

      I am looking for a floor arc lamp. I only see super cheap (Target) and super expensive (Room and Board) options. Does anyone know where I can get one of decent quality for $300-$600?

      • I think Bed Bath and Beyond will honor expired coupons. So, if you are collecting them, be sure to ask friends if they have any old ones.

      • Hi k-padi:

        I have this arc floor lamp from west elm||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_–_-

        Not sure if this is what you are looking for/fits your style, but I use if over the corner of my couch and I love it!

      • Rene Shonerd :

        Last year, I found some “upgrade” lamps that I liked from LampsPlus. Huge selection in a variety of styles to suit different styles. I’ll go back to them when I get around to renovating my kitchen.

      • k-padi,
        Hope you get this considering how late in the game, but I just brough some nice stuff from Scandinavian Design which has centers through the Bay Area.

        Good luck!

  5. This is so topical! Thank’s Kat! I had my entire apartement furnished by Restoration Hardware. Dad paid for it b/c he did NOT want me bringeing anything into my new place from the rodent infested apartement I lived in when I first moved to NYC.

    Now I must furnish our new WORK place we are moving into in 2015. All of the places listed are for residential. Is there a GOOD place we can get quality furniture for the workplace? The manageing partner said I should find a cheep place, but I do NOT want junky furniture like we have now, with petrified bubbel gum under each seat and moldy chair’s that the peeople used from the 1960’s farting into that still stink when they get wet! FOOEY!

    A p’ost on commercial furniture places would be great, Kat (or Kate). Thanks in advance. PS: If the HIVE knows of places for law firm office furniture, I am all ear’s.

  6. My parents just purchased a cherry sleigh bed from Gish’s Amish Furniture (I grew up in PA– so also, Amish country). My fiance and I are committed to buying vintage/antique wood furniture as we upgrade because 1) it’s often less expensive unless it’s a rare antique and 2) it’s better quality. I do like a lot of furniture at Macy’s though.

    • I have chosen the same. Also, as a person who grew up in an area with an out-of favor design style, my art deco furniture is a slice of home away from my hometown.

  7. recent college gad :

    I just graduated in May, and only owned a bed and a desk. I bought a nice table (solid wood off craigslist) for practically nothing the day I moved in.

    One of the first things I did was go and buy a solid wood furniture set for my bedroom and a decent couch. I got it from Ashley Home Furniture. I will say that most of their furniture is terrible quality, but I bought from one of their higher end lines. For me it was something I needed to feel like an adult. I never had a set growing up, and I couldn’t handle living out of plastic bins for clothes storage any more. Was it expensive? Yes, and it definitely makes things tighter, but I also walk into my bedroom every day and feel accomplished. I don’t think I would have gotten the same boost from Ikea furniture.

  8. So, a question related to this thread: My husband and I are buying new furniture for several rooms and we were thinking about hiring an interior decorator – but we have absolutely no idea what it costs to work with a decorator, so we’re sort of terrified to even contact them. It sounds like people have used interior decorators. I realize it’s going to vary by city/region, but would people be willing to share how much they spent when working with a decorator and the scope of their projects?

    • We bid on a interior design package at a silent auction, don’t recall how much we paid but I think her fee would have been $500. She helped us select paint colors for all the interior and furniture for the dining and living rooms (which we ordered from her, and she was there for the delivery and set up).

    • Mrs. Jones :

      We have used a decorator twice. She is a young solo. We live in a large southern city. I honestly can’t remember, but I think we paid around $650 each time, based on an hourly rate. The first time, I needed ideas how to furnish/arrange a large, weird-shaped room. She brought a book of ideas with several furniture/rug/décor suggestions. We bought a custom rug at cost through her. The second time, I needed help picking out paint colors and light fixtures for several rooms in our new house and also needed to redecorate our young son’s room. She gave me a few choices for paint colors, light fixtures, etc., and she oversaw the installation of the lights and paint.

    • Not sure if you’re into the aesthetic, but West Elm is always sending out emails about their free in house designers. Apparently, they’ll come to your house and help you figure out what you need. I am assuming you will be encouraged to buy West Elm things, but I’d also imagine that they won’t push for everything to be WE and you may get some good ideas (even if it’s more about furniture placement, wall colors, etc.).

      You could probably also contact some interior design schools if you’re looking to save money to see if you can work with a student looking to build his/her portfolio.

    • I have been working for an interior decorator for a string of very small jobs for a number of years. I highly, highly recommend it.

      Due to budget, we are working on one room at a time. She is SO much better than I am at, say, finding fabrics to have two chairs and a sofa reupholstered and pillows so it all matches, rather than looking like they were all bought at different times. I love patterns but I could never put two patterns together and make them look good, as she does. I’ve also used her to pick paint colors. And she knows the curtainmakers, upholsterer, pillowmakers — so I don’t have to research/choose. She takes care of all that.

      She charges us a flat hourly rate of $125. Everything we buy includes her markup, but honestly, I think the pricing is still very fair.

      I know there are also mid-range and nicer furniture shops in our city who have designers on staff as well, who are probably more economical or maybe free with a purchase?

      I found her by asking a bunch of friends for recommendations, then narrowed it down through their web sites. I would suggest trying to find someone who will work on an hourly basis and then being very clear about your budget. Costs can quickly mount up, and there’s no point looking at $400 / yard fabric when your budget is $75 / yard.

      • Senior Attorney :

        I just want to echo that it’s so worth it to have a designer because the designer does this stuff all day long and knows way more about it than I will ever know. I was sold from the first week when, having decided we wanted to do gray walls in the living room, she showed up with three colors to paint on the walls and have me choose from, rather than leaving me staring helplessly at the 20,000 grays at the paint store and somehow trying to choose on on my own.

      • What city are you in? I’d love a referral for that designer’s info if we are close (I’m in NYC).

    • In a medium sized Southern city,I used a decorator to furnish most of my house. (This is a second home, not in vacation territory.) I purchased a few items and then gave the designer a budget for the rest of the house. It worked fabulously well. She had connections to get everything at much less than retail and the budget included her and her partner’s fees. I am convinced I would have spent much more trying to bargain shop myself and would have been much less satisfied. One example, I got a table whose wood top had been damaged at her shop but no damage to wrought iron legs and had a custom granite top made for it for the dining room. It looks fabulous and was very inexpensive.
      And I am someone who does not like to shop OR to spend money on frivolities.

      • Thanks all – I’m feeling much more comfortable/confident about hiring a decorator!

    • Some furniture stores have in house decorators and their services are generally free.

  9. Another tip is that most furniture do clearance once or twice a year – usually in August, and then sometimes again in January/February. If you go into a furniture store like Crate & Barrel in August, often many of the floor samples will be tagged for clearance.

  10. this worked well for me :

    I looked in various furniture stores in the NYC area until I found what I liked. Then I ordered 2 bedroom sets from this site. I saved over a $1000 on the two sets—don’t recall how much exactly. They delivered when they said they would and set up the furniture.

  11. Meg Murry :

    And now I want the Lexington “Man’s Chest” – I think it would be a great upgrade to my husband’s cheapy cheapo dresser + milk crates current clothing storage. The rest of our house has decent furniture, through hand-me-downs and my father’s refinishing hobby, but the one thing we’ve never upgraded is our bed (just mattresses on a metal frame) and my husband’s dresser, which is a cheap one we got when first married. Amish country furniture is also a “thing” in our family, so we have a few pieces we were given as wedding gifts from our extended family – they are beautiful, high quality furniture, but a little more “country” style than my husband and I prefer. That Lexington style, however, is right up our alley. Hmmm – time to add to the dream list.

  12. Sydney Bristow :

    I was still at the Ikea level when I moved in with my fiancé who already owned Gothic Cabinet furniture. It’s great. Feels very solid and looks nice.

    We are looking for a new mattress right now, which is proving to be difficult and intimidating. Laying on something for awhile in the store just doesn’t compare to sleeping on it night after night.

    FWIW I had a horrible experience trying to return pillow cases to Restoration Hardware and will not ever shop there again. If you do shop there online then make sure to read the descriptions carefully. I thought I was ordering pillows but they turned out to be the cases only, which you could only discover by clicking a link for more information, which I didn’t think I needed since the measurements were on the main page. When I returned them it took over 2 months and 4 contacts with customer service to get my money back after they had received them to their returns address. Thank goodness I had my tracking info or I might still be fighting for my refund.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Oh, and be careful with Pottery Barn, too! I ordered some patio furniture from them and even though I canceled the order very shortly thereafter, it took weeks and weeks and filing a dispute with American Express before I got my refund, and they still charged me for shipping even though I canceled before it was shipped.

    • (former) preg 3L :

      FWIW, my DH bought a mattress from the Westin Heavenly Bed line because he said he always loved sleeping in their hotels.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        That’s a good point and definitely an option. I have liked sleeping on those and I think they tend to go in sale in December. Plus I think I’d get extra Starpoints if I use my Starwood card. Thanks for the suggestion!

        • Hit report by accident again! Any chance we could get a “confirm” button to prevent such mishaps?

      • Does he think it is as good as the hotel beds? I really want to buy a Westin mattress too – love love love their beds.

    • We got our mattress at Sleepy’s and I am happy enough with it, but one of my coworkers got hers at Macy’s and the nice thing with hers is that she can exchange it if she sleeps on it for a while and doesn’t love it. She’s a bit of a Princess and the Pea type so she’s done this twice (!!), but Macy’s gave her no grief about it and I wouldn’t be surprised if she does it again. Just FYI if you’re feeling uncertain about what to pick.

    • mattresses are toxic! :

      Do some research about the chemicals in most commercial mattresses. The state of CA just banned some of these so future furniture sold in this state will be safer. I purchased a latex, wool, and organic cotton mattress from Room & Board. As a bonus, no haggling with dirty mattress salesmen and latex mattresses last longer than the spring kind. (Ours is 8 years old and shows no signs of wearing out.)

  13. Diana Barry :

    We are pretty cheap on furniture. Our bedroom set we inherited from a friend who died suddenly, our couch we bought 12 years ago from Crate & Barrel, another LR chair is inherited, the kids’ beds are from Ikea, our coffee table is from K-Mart (I like it better than the Pottery Barn one we got to replace it, oddly enough). Our DR table is Pottery Barn, but hasn’t held up any better – the vacuum cleaner dings it and the kids bang on it all the time, so it is covered with dings.

    We will need to replace the couch soon – our nanny is not a small person and has made one side of it totally break. Any super-strong couch favorites?

  14. I am a huge fan of Arhaus–a lot of my furniture is from there and it’s solid, well-build and has a _lifetime_ warranty.

    When I was upgrading, I thought about what kind of environments seem like home to me–it turns out I like _not_ contemporary furniture. I like storage. I like medium toned wood, but hate “espresso”, “cherry” or “mahogany.” I like real wood, not composite.

    I also bought pieces that I felt like could fit in multiple rooms–that is to say, if I moved, would a piece be able to “fit” in a new home both style-wise and fit-wise.

    I like to have classic wood pieces and make my house more contemporary with soft furnishings like rugs, curtains, throw pillows.

    • Anonymous :

      Another fan of Arhaus here, though I always wait for their sales. Just bought the Landsbury sectional and Margot Weathered Dining Chairs. Love them. The delivery process was very easy and reliable.

    • I had a terrible experience with Arhaus, unfortunately – they confirmed that they had both a bed and a mattress in stock, confirmed a delivery date, and then, the day before confirmed my delivery…only because I actually went into their website did I realize they were confirming the bed only. I called the company, who basically said, “oh, yeah, the mattress [that they assured me was in stock and that I ordered because it was in stock] is out of stock.” No apology, no acknowledgement that this might be an inconvenience for me, no suggestion of when the mattress might be back in stock or any way they might make it right. They cancelled the order…only they didn’t, I realized, when I saw I didn’t have the refund. I had to call the store to get it refunded. It took WAY more of my time than was okay at that price point, and there was absolutely no recognition that they’d screwed up.

  15. people think of lazboy as a place for ugly chairs, but you would be really surprised. My husband got a beautiful leather chair there (and believe me there were things I would not even let him think about looking at) and we are waiting delivery on an etagere from them as well. They had some really nice accessories too. The quality is very good, as are the prices. Their website is not great and I would recommend a trip to a physical store.

    • Seconded. I love my couch from LaZBoy. There will always be more attractive couches, but I’d rather have something super comfortable and well-crafted that will last forever.

    • I actually just ordered a couch and coordinating chair from La-z-Boy, and I am certain no one will ever be able to tell it’s from that company. It’s gorgeous, and I got to pick the fabric for the furniture and the throw pillows, and it will be custom made for me at a really decent price. I am thrilled with it and would highly recommend to others based on my experience there.

      I’m loving this topic, as I am in the process of upgrading furniture in a bunch of my rooms. I’ve also had really good luck with Overstock–just bought a dresser from there that looks stunning, is really solid, and cost far less than it would have at a furniture store.

    • Red Beagle :

      +1 on LaZboy. We’ve been buying couches there for years. Their sofas really hold up over the years and they have thousands of style, size, and fabric combinations for a very fair price.

  16. All craigslist! Piece by piece, we’re building up a nice collection of solid wood, often antique furniture. We live with the Ikea pieces/sidewalk finds from years ago until we find the perfect replacements. Although we do still have a very old couch a la Kat, that was my spouse’s yard-sale couch from grad school and will probably not be replaced until the kids are out of the spilling stage.

    • Anonymous :

      Craiglist for us, too. You have to pick carefully, but it’s worth it when you find the right thing. I too love it with little ones at home. Our sectional (flexsteel, like new, $400, woot!) was tagged by a forgotten, cap-less marker within about two weeks of entering our home, so I’m glad I didn’t spend the original $3k price. I also feel more free to be daring with style and color, since I’m not “investing” in thousands of dollars. If I get bored or whatever, I’ll just sell it and come out roughly even.

      When we do buy new from a chain, I agree with West Coast Lawyer below that I’ve been much, much happier with Crate and Barrel brands than PB brands.

      • LondonLeisureYear :

        Did you Folex the marker? Folex gets EVERYTHING out. My other new favorite: Contact Solution. Its seriously getting every stain out when we are traveling and I don’t have my stain remover with me.

    • Totally agree–furniture is not made like it used to be, and my dining room table came from CL and is so strong and lovely. You can get great deals for the money on CL!

    • Absolutely. We got a beautiful dining room set that we could have gotten for $$$ for $60 because it had been sitting in someone’s storage for 10 years while his wife divorced him. Never used, but there are a few small water spots. But it’s solid wood, and we were looking for something we could throw a tablecloth over anyway. Bonus if you’re in a transient area; I’m in DC, and I was amazed at the quality of things that people put up on CL (i.e. it’s super nice stuff, like stuff my parents want to be buried with).

  17. West Coast Lawyer :

    I’ve been really happy with the things we’ve purchased from Room and Board and Crate and Barrel. Less so with Pottery Barn and PB Kids.

  18. Last time I owned furniture, it was when I still lived in Finland. Here in Ireland gand majority of rental apartments come furnished (there is a legal standard, too, to what they must supply for the apartment to count as furnised) so I literally have zero actual furniture at this time. It is pretty common situation over here.

    Hoerver, since I recently moved from a studio flat to a house with two roommates, I am actually now in the market for furniture – I want a dresser and an armchair, and the urge to just hit IKEA is strong. (Plus, IKEA has lingonberries and other nordic goods, yesss) so this is a timely thread. Except, unlike clothing, there is NO WAY on earth I am getting furniture shipped.. no matter how much I want that Lexinton chest!

  19. A professional woman :

    I have been working on improving my furniture.

    – Leather is key with kids in the family room, I agree. We have a leather couch that we got at JC Penney on clearance about 10 years ago. It has lasted, but it is not that nice. I also have two fabric chairs which have not held up nearly as well as the CHEAP leather couch. The entire family room needs to be replaced.
    – My living room furniture is microsuede. It will be upgraded eventually but it can wait. We hardly use the room, the couches are comfy, and it looks nice. The one upgrade I have done in there is add a new Pottery Barn Rug.
    – My dining room is done. I got that in a local furniture store.
    – My kitchen needs a new table (I loathe the one I have). But with little kids, I’m waiting until they stop destroying what I have (probably another 4 years, when my youngest is 8). My table is from Bob’s Discount Furniture (LOL) and was really cheap. My next table will be from Pottery Barn.
    – Bedrooms – my kids all have nice furniture (purchased at PBK and at Great Beginnings, a local furniture store). My bedroom, however is from JC Penney and needs an upgrade. It has lasted for the 11 years I have had it, but I want a King Sized bed, more furniture (it was bought for a small city apartment, I live in a house in the suburbs now), and a more “solid” look.

  20. CherryScary :

    I’ve just moved into my first place, and starting to pick out some of the “pre-adult” furniture. I’m still in cheap furniture land, and probably won’t be upgrading to the adult line for a bit. Someday though!

    • LeLe in DC :

      Lived with hand-me-downs from family, old cheap but excellent quality pieces picked up @ auctions, etc., DIY unpainted pieces for children’s rooms (then painted ourselves), until we gradually picked up antiques one by one. No matchy-matchy anywhere and I treasure each and every piece, esp’ly set of dining room chairs that were gift from mother-in-law and fabulous French oak armoire I got from a decorator and paid for monthly for a year.

  21. Anonymous :

    Never again with Crate & Barrel. After my roommate moved out in August, I decided a grownup lawyer should have some grownup furniture. I bought a new couch and upholstered chair from Crate & Barrel, taking advantage of their furniture sale and tax-free weekend. The couch delivery was a total debacle, entirely inconvenient, and mishandled in every way possible. The chair has still not been delivered, and nobody will give me a concrete answer as to when it’s supposed to arrive. Absolute worst.

  22. Anonymous :

    I’ve been upgrading via consignment shops. Even the nicer expensive pieces are often the same price as Pottery Barn. Also, don’t be afraid to repurpose furniture – I have a serpentine chest in my dressing room that holds my shirts and a china cabinet that holds my shoes.

  23. I personally love the hi-low combo. Just like fashion there is no need to splurge on every piece. I have had great luck mixing my Ikea pieces, with flea market, craigslist and antique fair finds (my current favorite is an old drafting table that I have re-purposed as a dining table) with furniture stores like Ethan Allen and Crate and Barrel and daily deal sites like hautelook and onekingslane. Most of the pieces that I consider upgraded actually come from antique shows and high end consignment stores, rather than being bought new. It certainly takes some work, patience and a little luck, but my apartment definitely fits my sense of style, and is constantly evolving as I score new pieces.

  24. Rachelellen :

    Anyone have any experience with Charles P. Rogers beds? They’ve always been on my fantasy list.

    • My ex bf’s mother had one in her guest bedroom and I loved sleeping in it. Very lovely. I hope you get it soon.

  25. We have upgraded to high-end furniture from a really good consignment shop located in the highest-income zip code of our state. Designer-level furnishings for pennies, really, compared to regular prices. They mark things down if they don’t sell. So we just wait until the piece is the right price. Sofas, chairs, coffee tables, dressers, desks.

  26. I think I must have just hit that age where all of a sudden all of your friends get new furniture and your own set up starts to look less charmingly shabby chic and more just shabby. So, am in the process of updating little by little but very hard to find “real” furniture as quality everywhere seems to be less than stellar.

    I’ve had the biggest success with lamps and rugs at places like homegoods. For actual furniture, I mainly go for vintage finds from thrift stores and flea markets as you can get real solid wood pieces and a few pieces from places like West Elm. I don’t think WE is the greatest quality though so I refuse to pay full price (if you sign up for their emails, they’ll send you 15% coupons and other promos; same with C&B). I also recently “upgraded” my old Ikea dresser to a – believe it or not – Ikea wardrobe. I actually looked pretty much everywhere and was willing to spend quite a bit but couldn’t find anything just right. Ironically, Ikea ended up having just the thing with their custom pax wardrobe line. I basically built my own closet, exactly as I wanted it. I am not sure how many moves it will survive, but it feels much more substantial than ready made Ikea furniture. I think I spent around $1200 and it’s worth it every time I open my closet and see how organized everything is! I’ve also been happy with my Ikea dining table – I think it was $79 and it’s held up amazingly well.

    One more thing I’ll mention that I am really excited to have discovered: It’s basically Craig’s List with only furniture but with professional movers who will pick up and bring the piece to you directly. Totally genius and an answer to my prayers, basically, as that is the biggest problem I have with CL (how to move a couch to my walk up apartment??) I think it’s NY only at this point, but will probably expand if they’re successful. FYI.

  27. lucy stone :

    We are the cheapest. We merged households of IKEA/garage sale furniture in 2009, and I thankfully inherited a few Amish/solid wood pieces. Since then, we’ve bought two armchairs (American made and scotchguarded, but I can’t think of the brand) and one end table. I’d love to get a new bedroom set but I’d rather go on vacation. Lots of our friends bought all new furniture when they bought a house and we’re just too cheap to do so.

  28. LoudyTourky :

    Anybody have experience with flame-retardant/low chemical sofas? We will be on the market for a new couch soon. I’m a fan of used furniture (for a variety of reasons, but including the off-gassing benefits) but don’t want to go that route with upholstered pieces.

  29. Rachelellen :

    Oh, something else I thought of: surprised no-one’s mentioned Ballard Designs. I have a few pieces from them and I’d consider them above Ikea – but with the caveat that I bought tiny pieces meant to be multi-functional for when I lived in an NYC studio- like benches. I’m curious about the sturdier styles. Some of it is attractive and I used to like the way they styled rooms.

  30. The LeGal :

    Cost Plus World Market has the absolute best dining room tables. Umm, total shameless plug. But, when I was upgrading from a table bought at KMart to an actual dining room table, I was uber impressed w/ the quality of the table I bought. That thing is heavy, solid, and tough.

  31. My husband and I bought our first house and we leveled-up to IKEA. I know that sounds nuts, but the quality on the nicer lines is pretty good. Also, it is slim, not bulky, and generally the only furniture we were able to agree on.

    Also, the dining set we got looks exactly like the set my parents bought from Pottery Barn. I walked into their house and said “Oh you finally got IKEA furniture.” My mom got incredibly offended that I would ever insinuate that she would get IKEA. I showed her a picture of my table and her jaw dropped.

  32. My husband & I have owned our house for 15 years, & we’re still slowly replacing IKEA & similar ‘build-it-yourself’ stuff with ‘grown-up’ furniture (we’re not lawyers, just everyday corporate drones). This summer, we finally bought our first non-hand-me-down couch, & that was a huge thrill! We looked all over, Ethan Allan, Thomasville, lots of big names, but were surprised that we liked one from Lazy Boy the best, it’s very comfortable, beautiful fabric, & the right size for our small house (so many couches are over-sized these days).

    Our living room armchairs are both from his grandparents, classic wing chairs with great woodwork. We just got one recovered in a fabric we love, & we plan to have the other one done. I’ve also refinished some small end tables found at charity shops. It’s easy to do, & now we have unique pieces. The rest of our house has a mix of new furniture, hand-me-downs, & vintage pieces from local stores.

    The one place I don’t care if we always have IKEA-like furniture is our home office — nobody really sees that area, & those desks & shelves are sturdy enough. No point in spending the money to upgrade.

  33. We bought our “forever” house and are furnishing with Ethan Allen. Their stuff is beautifully made, customizable and built for everyday living. My parents bought Ethan Allen, and so I sort of inherited their preference. They also provide a design consultant who comes to your house, measures and offers ideas and suggestions. I have a 2 year old and a 2 week old (!), and I didn’t want to wait until they were grown up to have nice furniture, so I did purchase the 5 year stain protection and I am strict about keeping markers in the playroom and food in the kitchen.

  34. I bought my furniture a long time ago and I’m not in the market for any now, but it look in consignment stores a lot and I am very impressed by the quality of things you can find…ESP. Bedroom sets and chests of drawers. Even if a bed is a full or double, it can be adapted to a queen mattress. They are often solid wood, dovetailed drawers and nice brass hardware. Upholstered furn. Can be reupholstered and wooden furn. Can be refinished, better quality and less cost than new.

  35. NotThatEllen :

    Ha, my husband is from OH too, and we got our bedroom and dining room furniture in the Amish area near his parents– Middlefield. It was an investment; about $10K for those 2 rooms, but I love it. It’s really well-made and even though we don’t have kids to leave it to, we will be able to leave it to SOMEONE because I know it will last. That said, I’m fine with the rest of our furniture being more replaceable, especially upholstered stuff. We have a dog and our house will never be a showplace, so we don’t spend more than say $1000 on a couch or chairs. I want our furniture to be comfortable and welcoming more than anything else.