Maxwell Ryan on Apartment Therapy started an amazing discussion today about high and low costs of furniture and how it ties into quality and longevity.
This post came at the right time--I thought about it all day today because I recently started work again for a past Retrograde peep who moved to the East Bay. "M" has a total budget of $2000 to add quite a few pieces (dining table, accent chairs and tables, lamps and more) and refresh her pre-war apartment. At Ye Olde Dayjobbe, our budgets for a single table lamp usually start around $2000.
Some of the comments at Apartment Therapy were in favor of investing money in "quality" pieces that they wanted to have for a long time. Others didn't think anything justified the price of designer pieces, handmade or otherwise. Me? I felt torn.
I've been having the same debate with myself ever since I got into this game. On the one hand, I've seen how something made by a craftsman can last for years and justify a $25,000 price tag for a sofa. But on the other hand, most of my friends (and I) could never--and would never--spend anything close to a fraction of that amount on a material possession; we'd rather have an experience or take a trip or invest in a home.
As I kept thinking about it, I realized I'm siding with the "I'd never spend that much on anything" camp. It hit me as I took my lunchtime stroll down the street:
I tend to treat home decorating like fashion. (As many of my female Retrograde peeps know, I often use fashion as an analogy for being able to furnish one's home--if you can dress yourself relatively well, then you can figure out how to decorate your space.) Looking in my own closet, the majority of my clothing is from mass market retailers like Zara and H&M. It's basically the only way I can stay on trend--I don't have the same paycheck as my bosses. But a small percentage of my closet is dedicated to vintage items and casual stuff. And once in a while I can splurge on APC jeans or something cool from Voyager. But for the most part, it's all kind of disposable fashion. I guess I personally believe in keeping that same ratio for home decorating and design.
Even this week's episode of Mr Selfridge on PBS touched on this--we should all be able to afford something well designed and fashionable. Thanks to designer partnerships with retailers like West Elm and Target, we can have on-trend furnishings and accessories that won't break the bank.
In the end, you've got to mix it up. My friends whose homes are filled with crazy thrift store gems are my design icons. Why? Because their homes don't feel precious or rarified. I'm not afraid to have fun. In fact, their homes foster that sense of fun, of coziness, of real life and adventures that we can relate to in a peer-like way. Billboard-scale movie poster you stole from a bus shelter in Paris? Check. Quirky tiled tables scored from the Salvation Army down the street? Check. DWR designer sofa you got on Craigslist from some dot-commer who had to move in a hurry? Check.
That's what I call a high-low recipe for an amazing home.