Investing in quality wood furniture can sometimes seem like a daunting task. I often find that welcoming new pieces into my home feels a bit like dating and marriage. There’s the initial excitement of finding the perfect piece that ties a room together, the comfortable years where it seems to almost blend into the background, and finally the love and appreciation that only comes with time – along with a few dings and scratches.
In this season of life, designing the home in which we will raise our son, it’s more important than ever to invest in quality pieces that can stand the test of time – and more importantly, the test of toddler! So, I’ve included a roundup of my favorite tips for investing in wood furniture!
Now, in this season of life, designing the home in which we will raise our son, it’s more important than ever to invest in quality pieces that can stand the test of time – and the test of toddler. So, I’ve included a roundup of my favorite tips for investing in wood furniture!
- Talk the talk. It’s important to understand the lingo so you can be sure that you know exactly what you are getting. Wood furniture falls into three categories: solid wood, wood veneer, and particle board. Solid wood is typically the most expensive out of the three, but you know that you are paying for quality. Veneers have a piece of quality wood on the outside with a less expensive composite material on the inside (to save cost), and particle board is the least expensive of the three and often won’t stand the test of time. That said, there is certainly a time and place for each option so know your space and you budget and buy accordingly!
2. Joint construction. This is one of the most visible determinants of an investment piece. Check the furniture at its joints. Does it show signs of glue, nails, dowels or screws? If you’re looking for a piece that will last a long time, stray away from furniture with visible glue or nails at the joints – they aren’t as effective in the long term. Dowels and screws will stand the test of time, but if you are looking for the best in terms of joint quality, look for dovetail (they look like interlocking teeth) or mortise-and-tendon joints (a narrow section of one side fitted into a hole in the other).
3. Be realistic with yourself. I once purchased a fantastic, extra-large table that would have fallen firmly in the overlap between industrial and midcentury modern. A lovely piece in its own right, but squarely out of my comfort zone. I promised myself that I would build a room around it and love it forever, but it turns out forever only lasted a year. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating unique wood pieces into your room design – I think it’s brilliant! But be realistic with yourself and your design goals for your home (I certainly wasn’t once upon a time, and still have to reel myself in once in a while). I tend to push myself out of my comfort zone in upholstered pieces and accessories and invest in wood pieces that I know will stand up to my more whimsical decisions! 😉
4. Buy at the right time. It’s important to know when to source your pieces so you can ensure that you are getting the most for your dollar. For us, of course, it’s during the Nell Hill’s Wood Furniture Sales: February 15 – March 15, July 15 – August 15, and the last two weeks of September. All wood furniture pieces are 20% off, on floor and special order items. Many items can drop ship, so if you see something you like, but are out of driving range, give us a call! If you’re not close enough to visit us, After Tax Day is another great time to check around locally for furniture sales – many stores discount larger items at that time.
5. Don’t be afraid to REALLY check it out – fluff the cushions, test the knobs, wiggle the table legs, knock on the table-top, look under the piece, open the doors. If you’re investing in a large quality piece, it can mean that you are spending upwards of several hundred (or thousands of) dollars – it’s perfectly fine for you to want to be absolutely sure that it meets your standards.
6. Trust your designer – If you’re working with a designer, don’t be afraid to ask her or his opinion on the quality of a piece. Designers work with a variety of brands every day, and if they’ve been in the business for a while, they’ve seen lots of furniture. They’ll be able to tell you which line carries quality, and which just aren’t up to snuff. I’ll bet they even have a few of their own tricks to help you find the perfect piece!
I hope these tips help you in your search! Do you have any tips we didn’t mention above? Tell us in the comments! And know that if I ever see you in the shop wiggling table legs or opening drawers or testing cushions, I’m happy to jump in and help! I think we’d have a good laugh together.
Join us next Monday as we celebrate the Color of the Year: Living Coral!
betty saysFebruary 13, 2019 at 11:12 am
What is the item in the upper right corner of the first photograph (blue cabinet and red chair)? Is it a light fixture, a sculpture, something else? Could you post a picture of just that item, its brand and cost?
Katie Laughridge saysFebruary 18, 2019 at 7:21 am
Hi Betty, that photo was taken quite some time ago in a clients home. The item in question is a sculptural piece that belonged to the homeowner, so unfortunately we do not have it available for sale. Our apologies!
Nancy saysFebruary 15, 2019 at 12:04 pm
1) Can I view pieces included in your current sale online?
2) Is the chair in the last photo (bedroom) in your Sourcing Quality Wood Furniture included in the sale? What is method for an out of state customer to get price?
3) Same question for the chair in photo with the chest, photo preceding the bedroom photo?
4) Do you have a high back Chippendale style wing chair in the sale? Price?
Katie Laughridge saysFebruary 18, 2019 at 7:19 am
1. Unfortunately we do not currently have a platform for online sales, but we’re working on it!
2 & 3. The upholstered chair is not currently covered in the wood sale, but our upholstery sale is going on until the 22nd, and that chair is available for a 20% discount through that! Please feel free to call the shop if there is a particular piece that you like. OR we’d love to set up a remote design consultation with you, that way we can understand what you are looking for and show you a variety of pieces that meet your needs.
4. We have a WIDE variety of chippendale style chairs – I’d recommend a complimentary remote design consultation with one of our designers. That way we can help you find EXACTLY what you’re looking for!
Hope this helps!
Pura Vida saysFebruary 16, 2019 at 1:15 am
This is really amazing,
I loved reading your post.
Housera saysMarch 25, 2019 at 4:43 am
Thanks for the tips! Your article is very informative. 3 months ago my wife and I moved to a new home. We brought a vintage leather sofa with us. We would like to pick up the rest of the furniture in the living room in the same style. Can you advise where you can find similar furniture?
Tex Hooper saysFebruary 14, 2022 at 7:51 pm
I guess I have never paid attention to how the joints are assembled in the past. My wife wants a new couch for the living room. I’ll have to make sure the wood is built together properly.