Designer Furniture in Your Twenties will screw you.

I’ve been blogging for a spell now, and thought it would be prudent to share one of my larger financial mistakes. Take my advice: if you are young and single (male or female) do NOT buy furniture.

Borrow furniture, haggle for something on craigslist, pick up something off the side of the road or make your pad an enclave of Ikea. Especially do not buy “nice” furniture or those cute little decor items that are so hard to resist. I say this because, the chances are if you are  single (or even in an unmarried cohabitating couple) chances are you will move several times in your twenties due to job opportunites or continuing education or moving in with someone you care about. Or you may just have the misfortune of having to move apartments between towns or something because the landlord sucks, or the house wasn’t what you thought. Are you going to carry that furniture you paid so dearly for with you each and every time?

Also-consider the wear and tear each item will get every time it is moved. My dresser has a huge gash in the back of it from the time I moved apartments in NYC. Everything I had shipped here has a layer of typical New York City dirt on it.

You may have heard me harp on this before in this post a little bit, about having nice furniture and how keeping it was such a dilemma at the time. Well folks, the jury is in and I have decided  it is one of the biggest (and costliest) financial decisions I’ve ever made.  Purchasing expensive furniture in the first place? Stupid. Taking it with me across the country? Double stupid. Guess where that furniture is now? A storage unit in backwoods Alabama. Guess what it’s doing? Keeping my stuffed animals, angsty teen journals, and 25 years of sh!t company. My mother ardently believes one day (whenever the magical day comes) I will settle down and be thankful for those pieces I carried with me from New York, because they are really quality and nice. Perhaps she is just trying to make me feel better, but in all likelihood my tastes will have changed and it might not even fit into the space of my first home purchase.

I could have sold it in New York, but I knew I would never have gotten what I paid for it back out of the sale and I just couldn’t bear to lose that much on an investment. So I do what most people do when they are emotionally tied to an investment and throw good money after bad.

It stings because of these numbers:

The furniture was 3600.00 total for a chaise, a dresser, a mattress, frame, and seven foot mirror (that someone will have to pry from my cold, dead hands one day because I love it so much). Courtesy of Sirs Raymour and Flannagan.

Shipping the furniture? 1500.00. Ouch.

That is a total of 5100.00. 3600 to feel like I was a big, big girl finally making her way in the world and then another 1500 to hold on to my old lifestyle. Even though the furniture, my friends, (and my hot, hot boyfriend) are really all I have to show for the time I spent there, what did I need that furniture for? I should have just gotten a few items off the street or from Ikea and then I wouldn’t have felt guilted into paying to take them with me. I know it’s just money, but at the end of the day that’s 5100.00 I could have used for retirement or for my student loan. Or for a pair (or five) of Louboutins.

So Beautiful. It hurts my eyes.

When we lived together my dear friend Ivan the Great had a habit of dragging anything in semi-decent condition left for trash on the sidewalks in Harlem back to our apartment. Some of the pieces were completely awful, but some weren’t-like the dressers he found for his bedroom, a great over-the-toilet storage rack and the wooden block kitchen table that still sits in the apartment to this day. We finally had to put the kibosh on his dumpster-diving ways when he brought home a dingy, fabric covered chair during the height of the “bed bug” scare. Everyone was too scared to sit on it, and it was smelly. So we put it back on the curbv vowing to purchase anything we might need that had fabric on it (couches, chairs, pillows etc.)

His heart, mind and wallet were all definitely in the right place. So the moral of the story is be a little bit more like Ivan, and a lot less like L. Bee when it comes to your furniture decisions. Don’t buy NICE furniture (three hundred per piece or more) until you get married. Or buy a home. And maybe not even then unless you can truly afford it. The exception to this rule (I think) should be to spend money on a really great mattress and cheap your way out of the rest. A mattress is where you spend the largest percent of your time, so of course it should be comfy and awesome.

Till Soon,

L. Bee

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23 thoughts on “Designer Furniture in Your Twenties will screw you.

  1. I bought a fair amount of furniture at The Door Store when I moved to NYC, thinking I would be spending a couple of years there. When I gave up on the city after 12 months and moved in with my now-husband I didn’t keep almost any of it. The glass in the coffee table shattered in the move, my bed frame went to a yard sale, the TV and brand new mattress found a home at my Dad’s house, etc. I stubbornly held onto the bookshelf and put it upstairs in our house, even though it doesn’t match anything. When I think of those thousands of dollars down the drain, I kind of sigh.

  2. I agree. This is one thing that I did right. I STILL have hand-me-down furniture and Ikea stuff. So that’s kind of the sad part too. I’m 41 and would like nicer, high-quality stuff, but I still live in a rental and still can’t afford it right now. So I guess I still have to wait. 😦

  3. Or at all. Seriously! My wife and I were VERY young and VERY broke when we moved in togther and got married. So we got hand-me-down furniture from family and I did some dumpster diving (it’s so much fun!), and we still have a lot of that furniture today. One dresser finally broke and we went to Goodwill and got a really great replacement. I’m not sure anyone really needs designer furniture or perfectly coordinated rooms. It’s all just stuff anyway.

  4. We’re looking for furniture that is new to us. We keep our eyes out on Craigs list and garage sales–you’ll never know what you find. I prefer buying individual pieces and letting them fit rather than a whole set of something. I made the mistake of purchasing a $1100 couch once–I no longer own it and am rather glad!

  5. Oh, you’re no fun! Buy all the furniture you want, kids! You have the rest of your lives to be miserable and try in vain to climb out of the treacherous grips of DEBT! Okay, okay…I kid. Listen to Miss LB! 🙂 Great story. You should totally dig up those angsty journals and re-post for your lovely readers! 😉
    -M

  6. Many years ago when I was newly married at the ripe old age of 19, I decided that I needed matching furniture so off we went to the store to purchase a sectional couch, matching tables, lamps and dining set. Just a few years later the marriage dissolved and we were still in debt for that furniture. I sold it to friends to make what I could from it and decided never again to buy new. I have moved MANY times since then and it does NOT pay to have “nice” when you move that much. I have always shopped relatives’ and friend’s houses, yard sales and thrift stores for furniture and was rarely disappointed because I could always re-sell for the same or more than I paid for it. (Like you, I buy a quality bed because you can’t skimp on that!) I remarried this last March (after 25 years of being divorced). When we found out how much it would cost to move his furniture to my house from where he lived in a different state, we opted to leave it. His landlord was happy to get the furniture because now he could rent out the place as “furnished” and he gave my husband a break on the rent since he gave less than 30 days notice. Great blog! I wish more young people would take your advice.

    • Thank you so much! I’m sorry your comment originally got stuck in my spam filter. I’m probably not going to buy anything “new” until much later in life. It’s just too painful to see all that money just sitting there in the storage shed.

  7. My exgirlfriend was definitely a bad influence in this area. We didn’t buy anything super expensive, but she was always urging me to replace my couches and other furniture. Sure the couch is propped up by some phone books, but it’s perfectly fine other than that. The other problem of buying furniture when you’re young is that you often aren’t responsible enough to take good care of it. So you’re more likely to be horsing around and rip it or drunkenly spill some wine on it.

  8. My furniture is a mixture of Ikea stuff and things I got from Kijiji. The only thing I splurged on was my couch because I knew I’d be sitting and sleeping on it a lot. My parents bought me a bed. Sometimes I think I sleep better on it than my own bed. I’m in love with Crate and Barrel stuff, but know better not to shop there until I purchase a home and when their stuff goes on sale. So pretty, but so expensive!

    • It can be tempting to spend money, especially when you feel like you are on your own for the first time and want to make your mark on something. I have to stop reading magazines-they make me want too badly!

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