What constitutes good value?

What constitutes good value?

Perhaps you are quite happy to pay top dollar for vintage pieces without really knowing whether it’s a good value.

as if.

Even those of us who source pieces regularly can be fooled with stylish trim and ornate touches. I mean, ultimately, if you love a piece and can afford it – that just might constitute good value for you!  Perhaps you evaluate it quickly and as long as it seems sturdy, you are quite happy. I encourage you to know what your needs are. Why do you want to purchase  a piece, to begin with?  Are you planning to pass it on to someone younger one day? are you planning to sell it at a garage sale once you are tired of it?  Clearly even those two answers will tell you a great deal about what you value…and what your purchase patterns need to be.

Let me clarify.  If your purchase patterns in the past tell you that you chase the latest trends, then go ahead and buy something for a thrifty price that you can then “fire sale” later and move on to the next trend. This has become the norm for more and more people. While I don’t necessarily trend in that direction, I do follow trends in smaller items, so it’s more cost effective. Personal preference, right?

Your finances will also play into this. It costs more, over time, to buy and sell furniture and decor items than it does to buy well to begin with and only replace or repair when needed. Let me explain why this is true.

When our kids were young, we experimented with the “cost per wear” concept for clothing purchases. (Their own clothes didn’t and couldn’t last long because they outgrew them…but we used my clothes for this experiment.) If a $30 coat would do, but i only wore it 3 times over the course of 2 years before i tired of it, then it had a $10 cost per wear. Similarly, a $300 wool coat may or may not have been worn for longer (often the styling of expensive items is more classic and less driven by quickly-discarded trends). Let’s say i wore it for 5 years and wore it once weekly in fall and winter. 26 weeks x 5 equals =130. At 130 wears, that $300 coat cost $2.30 per wear.

i know that there are huge assumptions connected to that calculation. But bear with me. Assuming the better-thought-out styling that comes with a quality piece, the nicer feel of the fabric and the tendency for it to last without appearing worn early on…means I’d be more likely to continue wearing it and feeling lovely doing so. Make sense?

Fast forward to our furniture and decor subject.  Let’s say i choose a pretty little upholstered chair for a reading nook. I find it at a big box store for $100. However, if my plan is to use it daily for  reading , it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that chair will show signs of wear within two years. Before long, each time I sit down, I’m irritated by the signs of pilling or even the wear of the fabric. How likely am I to keep this chair for ten years? As much as I liked it to begin with, I used the initial cost as my entire logic for purchasing it.

i know i’m belabouring the point. In our “disposable” culture, the kind of work we do  at Cottage by the Sea  can be  misunderstood. People wonder, “Why refurbish a piece when a ‘brand new one’ is the same price?” i hope by now,  i have made the reason abundantly clear. It is because that same piece will outlive you, very likely. It has lasted this long, and with good bones, can be freshened up/restyled without any loss to the structural integrity.

Please consider long range reasons as you consider what you spend your hard earned money on!!  Instead of needing to shop for furniture every 2 to 5 years, enjoy a vacation with the money you DIDN’T SPEND unnecessarily!  Save for your retirement. Give to someone in need!

On that point, i’d like to make a quick and shameless plug for our company. We support International Justice Mission with a percentage of our sales – (please see www.ijm.ca for more information.  They pursue justice via legal avenues for weak and marginalized people who are mistreated and abused by others. )

As a friend of mine once said, “you can spend your money any way you wish, but you can only spend it once.”

Do so wisely, my friend.


Cottage by the Sea Studio