Furniture purchases are never easy, and I have seen person after person (including myself) struggle with the decision of what & where to buy their next piece of furniture. As of lately, our family has tried to adopt a buy less but buy better mentality when it comes to our purchases. We really try to think about each purchase and its affect on our lives & our wallets. I generally advise people to purchase the highest quality furniture they can afford, but there are times when disposable furniture (as I call it) is called for and sometimes necessary.
What is disposable furniture - you make ask? I consider disposable furniture to be the "filler" pieces that you can purchase for a lower price until you can really buy what you want. They are usually found at the big box stores & may only last you a few years. Some of my favorite places to buy disposable furniture are Target, Ikea, Home Goods, TJ Maxx & Ross. Here are some situations where I would advise a client to purchase disposable furniture:
1. You are transient:
Moving is never fun. You're life and possessions are turned upside down. Things get scratched, broken and warped with each consequent move. Instead of spending several thousand dollars on pieces that are certain to be damaged and aren't guaranteed to fit in your next house or apartment, simply buy a less expensive piece that fits for right now. When the piece is damaged or isn't the right look for your next space simply sell it or donate it, if its in decent condition, or toss it. You won't be out a ton of money and you also won't be tied to a piece of furniture that doesn't look right in your next space. I have a few nice antiques & special items that have always moved with us, but the rest of my house is done in thrift store finds & upholstery items from big box stores. This has allowed us to easily & cheaply update our space when the need arises for very little money.
2. You have children:
Unless you are extremely wealthy, there is absolutely no reason to buy an expensive piece of upholstered furniture (think couches, chairs, etc...) when you have children of any age in your house. Of course, we can be good parents & teach them to take care of their surroundings, but accidents happen. In the spirit of being calm and more laid back parents, though, you don't want to constantly have to be fussing at your children over an expensive couch or chair. People throw up, they poop, they constantly have something smeared on their clothes all adding up to one sad looking piece of furniture in a few years time. If you must have high quality - make sure it has easily washable covers .
3. You are trendy.
Are you someone that likes to go with the design flow? Do you like to keep current on the ever-changing design trends. I know people that will paint their rooms a different color literally every 2 years, which kudos to them, but makes me tired just thinking about it. If this is you, supplement your core pieces with a less-expensive trendy item like a side chair or accent table. When you're tired of it or your design style changes - you can simply rid yourself of the piece without too much guilt.
4. You are never home.
In the Northern Virginia area and with our experience in the military community, I've talked with people that are literally never home. Either they work long hours (particularly shift work) or they travel immensely with their job. They don't need or want the most expensive pieces of furniture because it literally never gets used.
5. You are retiring &/or downsizing in the near future.
If you find yourself in need of a piece for your home, but absolutely know that you'll be retiring or downsizing in a few years - don't be afraid to buy a piece of disposable furniture to get you through your transition. I see people make this mistake many times - particularly those with high school age children. A family will buy a really nice piece of furniture because their children are older & not as crazy, but then they downsize a few years later when the kids move out. The nice piece doesn't fit or match their lifestyle anymore because it has changed so drastically, & they feel that they've wasted a lot of money. If they had just filled their temporary need with a disposable piece of furniture, then they could have gotten rid of unnecessary pieces with less guilt.
Certain situations definitely call for a substantial furniture investment, but everyone doesn't have the same situation. When making your next furniture purchase, think about the length of time you will realistically be in your space, how you will use it & who will be using it to make a better decision for your unique situation. One size does not fit all -ever - Happy Designing!