344: The Importance of Investing in Key Décor Items and What Items Are Worth Investing In
Wednesday November 9, 2022

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“I am sure there are [trends], but I don’t really like them because I think trends come and go very rapidly.” —Nina Campbell

Creating a sanctuary takes time.

But it need not take the same amount of time each time you set up a new home.

Similar to getting to know ourselves, unconsciously from day one we may be drawn to certain tastes, preferences, aesthetics, etc., and this is where we can begin both in understanding ourselves and in curating a sanctuary that rejuvenates, comforts and welcomes us home, even if the location of our home changes over the years.

However, unlike our wardrobe, the sizes of the types of furniture or décor items we are drawn to will not change, even if the colour palettes do which is good news because that means you can begin investing in the items for your sanctuary before you even have a penny in your bank account saved up for a down payment or the first month’s rent.

Decorating our homes doesn’t have to begin from scratch each time we move into a new home; in fact, if we are starting from scratch each time, we are wasting money, time and harming the planet (unless we are leaving all of our furniture for the new buyer). And you actual liberate yourself when you invest in quality décor pieces initially which enables you to never have to start from scratch again. Why does it liberate you, especially, you might be saying, because you just spent all of your extra money on a custom sofa for example? Well, that is exactly what today’s episode is all about, sharing the many reasons why investing in key décor items will help you curate a sanctuary that is tailored to you and the life you love living.

1.Endurance to last a lifetime or at least a few decades

“[It was] good in the first place, and [is] still good today.” —Nina Campbell

Similar to well-made clothing with high quality fabric, furniture that is made well from the inside out – structurally sound sofa, chairs, beds, tables, etc. will go the distance, many lasting your entire lifetime. I will include stoves in this as well because if you are someone who spends regular time in the kitchen, invest well in a stove and yes, it can last your entire lifetime.

The quote above was shared by renowned British interior designer Nina Campbell in a podcast episode in which she shared an experience of working with a client for the second time, about 10-15 years removed. Many of the primary pieces did not need replacing because they were made well. Below in #5 we will talk more about the benefit of having high quality furniture and large appliances, but generally speaking, you save yourself an extra step of having to go shopping for yet again another item. If you purchase a cheap item that looks good today, but isn’t made well, no matter how many times you recover it, it will still not work nor last, or be comfortable.

The idea of starting from scratch is eliminated when you buy well, yep, paying more, up front for the first time purchase, so that you don’t have to pay for it again down the road when your tastes change, or what is more likely, the piece falls apart or you realize it doesn’t fit well or is not comfortable.

2. Sustainable

The sustainability choice in buying a quality piece of furniture or large appliance for your home ensures you won’t be clogging up landfills. Mass produced furniture that is typically inexpensive also enables us to be less attached to the items and thus make the item easier to toss. Granted some may take their items to Goodwill or have a garage sale, but when you purchase furniture you love and is well made, and that you need as it provides a function in your home, you are able to keep it and use it for decades to come and also often become invested in it to take care of it well.

As I will share in #7 on our list in detail, part of why buying antiques and consignment and vintage is worth doing is because of the sustainability approach, and while it may take more time to find what you need, when you find it, again, you will become more invested in taking care of it well, thereby keeping it in your home for a longer duration.

3. Saves Money in the Long-Term

The price you pay for the high quality armchair today will be the cheapest price that armchair will be sold for if you were to shop for it again 10, 15, 20 years down the road. A well-made piece of furniture, if cared for well, will actually increase in value, a cheap sofa or chair will do exactly the opposite. In other words, it is not easy to plunk down a large sum of money on a dining room table for example, but if it is well made, fits your home and lifestyle, you will have it with you for your lifetime and perhaps hand it down to the next generation, only needing to have it refinished or re-stained when it exchanges homes.

Try to think long-term if you are struggling to pay the price tag of a custom Howard & Sons London sofa or armchair, and instead think about how you will be able to have a trusted and loved piece of furniture for decades to come, even being able to hand it down and doing so with it in great condition even if the upholstery changes.

~Read British interior designer Rita Konig’s advice on buying the perfect sofa (Konig is Nina Campbell’s daughter)

4. Potential to change exterior, but value is retained due to high quality craftsmanship

When you invest well in furniture you both love, as it speaks to your aesthetic tastes and lifestyle, and that is made well, as mentioned in #1, when your life changes, when your color preferences change, all you have to do is change the exterior as the skeletal, foundational components are doing just fine. Even if you have to replace and refurbish the seat cushions, you still have the well-built original frame which will save you money.

From changing the upholstery or refinishing the wood of a beloved desk, dining room table or side table, this is where you save money and time, because you already have what you love, now you are just taking good care of it, which reduces stress to have to find something that works for what you need.

5. Pay no mind to trends

“I am sure there are [trends], but I don’t really like them because I think trends come and go very rapidly.” —Nina Campbell

To repeat Nina Campbell’s quote from above, as someone who began working under the wing of John Fowler, I will heed her wisdom when it comes to trends. Sure, we all have an aesthetic we are drawn too, but that is separate from a trend. Nina Campbell, for example, has a particular aesthetic that draws clients to her, but what she does is not trendy and each client’s home, when complete, will be different. The difference is when an interior designer creates spaces for different clients that all look somewhat similar but neither reveals an individual, then that is trendy. In other words, an interior designer brings their expertise, but listens to the client’s needs (lifestyle) and what brings them comfort and rejuvenation (personal tastes and life journey), and designs a home that reflects their client.

You want to see yourself and the people who live in your home in the interior design you create in your sanctuary. This most definitely takes time, but from day one you can begin including something you love, that speaks to you. For me, I have always been drawn to cozy, deep armchairs and sofas, wingbacks and wallpaper. I can remember going to the interior design store in our small town with my mother when I was a young girl, being able to select the wallpaper for my bedroom for the first time. I was so excited to be able to have a say in the decision making and flipping through all of those wallpaper books was a joy and most curiously good time. As well, I also know what I am not drawn too, and that also plays a role in where we begin. When we don’t know, we try out things, and we learn along the way. I once thought a blue painted bathroom would be a great look, feel and aesthetic, but for me, I learned it was not. Lesson learned and carried forward to my next apartment or house.

With each home we step into, or each new redecorating project we begin, we bring with us the knowledge and experience from our past projects, homes and interiors. To be guided by a trend, as was mentioned in episode #341, is not entirely a bad thing. “If an aspect of a trend speaks to you, there is a reason, and that is how we hone our understanding of what will work for a long duration of time in our homes as we decorate for the life we love living, [but] if you are not decorating in an approach that honors you, but rather following what others approve of, and in such an approach to life in any arena – decor, fashion, life choices – this is never an approach that will lead to true, lasting contentment.”

6. You can move to other rooms or arrangements, and expand upon what you have, rather than starting from scratch

Having furniture you love and that is well-made gives you the liberty to change where the piece is placed in your home. Perhaps a chair that was in the office now is moved to the new bedroom for guests. Or maybe the bed frame in your primary bedroom is moved to the guest room of your new home as you have one more room to furnish and as your tastes have changed, you can welcome in a new frame.

Ultimately, what you are doing is giving yourself options and saving money, reducing what you need to add to your space because you already have very nice pieces to work with.

7. When you cannot purchase custom yet

“I strongly believe that people may not want, or may not be able, to start again from scratch, so giving old furniture a new lease of life is at the heart of my philosophy.” —Nina Campbell

When we begin furnishing our homes, beginning in college for many of us, buying new and high quality is just not possible. Often we begin with hand-me-downs from family members and that is just perfectly fine. As you begin to purchase items, you likely still will not be able to purchase high quality brand new, let alone custom pieces, so head to the consignment and vintage shops and go treasure hunting. Scour the estate sales in your new hometown, but be patient, ask questions, and don’t be afraid to barter. My first antique purchase was in college, an oak pub table that at the time cost a fortune for me – $400. I still have that table and it has been well cared for and functions and looks beautiful.

Purchasing consignment and/or antiques when we can and want to is a sustainable approach as well to decorating our homes. It may take time to find what we are looking for, but remember, you can always update or adjust certain finds. If the items I made well, but the upholstery needs to change, that is easy to do, and you’ve saved money and helped the planet.

~Why Not . . . Shop Consignment Décor?

What Décor Items to Invest In

The first two items are recommended by Nina Campbell as most definitely worth investing in from the start:

  • Sofa — customize with your preferred fabric as well
  • Bed — mattress, headboard, frame, etc.
  • Upholstery — chairs, sofa, ottomans, benches, etc.
  • Window Treatments — fabric, hardware, customizing length and amount of fabric to hang properly open or closed
  • Flooring — hardwood or tile, rugs, carpet, etc.
  • Wallpaper — high quality wallpaper will hang well and simplify the process if you are doing it yourself.
  • Stove Top/Oven — if you cook regularly in your kitchen
  • Hardware & Kitchen and Bathroom Fixtures — door handles, faucets, hooks (for heavy use areas)

Decorating our sanctuary in many ways resembles putting together an incredibly large jigsaw puzzle, and over the years I have come to thoroughly enjoy putting together my own puzzle. Knowing what the right pieces are takes less time, but because I don’t want a mass produced item, or know where what I am looking for might be found but it is not where I am at the moment, the time it takes to acquire these pieces takes longer, and that is okay. Because in the moment that we find and purchase and then welcome home the piece that fits just as we had imagined, it was worth it and our comfort and pleasure in our home deepens, and we become more rested and rejuvenated.

Of course the journey of decorating our homes is forever on-going just as our capsule wardrobe is and knowing ourselves and learning about the world and how we partake and engage with it, but that is the fun part of being alive, and our homes stay alive because of this regular awareness of how to live well, tweaking, adding, layering, editing, etc.

Wishing you a wonderful and most enjoyable journey of curating your sanctuary, and may your puzzle tickle your mind and bring many smiles to your days as you discover what would be right at home in your abode.


Petit Plaisir

~Parisian by Design: Interiors by David Jimenez by Diane Dorrans Saeks

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4 thoughts on “344: The Importance of Investing in Key Décor Items and What Items Are Worth Investing In

  1. I could not agree with this post more! I’m typing from my dining room table – which began its life as my great grandmother’s dining room table. I have the six original chairs – the fact that they are imperfect from years of use makes me love them even more. I also just replaced a Pottery Barn piece purchased in my twenties for a beautiful chest purchased at a local antique store. It makes me so happy every time I look over at it – well worth the waiting and treasure hunting, not to mention I was able to get a very high quality piece of furniture at a wonderful price point : )

    1. Marina,

      Thank you for your comment and sharing a perfect example. 🙂 And your find at the antique store – sounds like a gorgeous treasure. And yes, the treasure hunting makes it all the more special and fun. 🙂 Congrats on the great price!

  2. Marina, I love that you have your great grandmother’s dining room table and use it integrally in your daily life! And I love hearing details about your journey and creating your home. And well-done on your treasure-hunting skills!!
    There are several pieces in our home that are old and gifted. As an example– the dining room hutch is from a kitchen set that my great great aunt used. (I have the rest of the set, used in other spaces.) It is wooden and has the tin-lined drawer to store your flour, safe from whatever insects and rodents, and a lovely roll-top element above an enamel work shelf. It was used in my grandmother’s home to separate the space between toilet area and the rest of the bathroom.?
    One of my most treasured pieces is an early 1800s desk with elegant cabriol legs. The design is lovely and it was where my dear friend laid out his paints, right next to his working easel. His sister, my very good friend, told me that this must be mine. It now houses my tibetan singing bowls inside, atop is a packet of mandala sand under a tibetan woven piece( I witnessed and participated in the mandala creation and it’s disbursement into our bayou), a small flower vase, a lava buddha, and a lovely delicate 1920s lamp.
    Upgrades are needed for several other pieces and I LOVE researching and dreaming and discovering, what a fabulous adventure, eh?!?

  3. I love this article. So true. I finally let my personality show with my decorating. I’m happier. Home is homeier. The pieces are conversation pieces as much as they are beautiful. I always liked the thought of an English country home that has been passed down through the generations and you can see different styles, personalities, and the beauty comes through. That’s the way I feel about my house. I’m letting myself explore and express the many facets of my life/ personality and those of my family. I love it.

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