I was talking to Susan Brinson (if you’re not following House of Brinson, you should!) and we began chatting about our renovation and design philosophy. We both renovate in real time, save our money for home projects, and invest in materials, furniture, and decor that make us happy- and will hopefully withstand the test of time. We laughed at what we’re willing to pay for and what we’d rather thrift or DIY. Sometimes we save and sometimes we splurge. That’s kind of my design, decorating, and renovating mindset though… mixing high & low. One thing I love about Susan- like me, she’s comfortable talking about budgets, dollar amounts, and is always open to discussing cost with me. I feel like this industry could use more of those real conversations. Today, I thought I’d share the most expensive piece of furniture I own with you. Why not? Interested to see what it is (I’m sure you can guess)? Click through! It probably comes as no surprise as I’ve talked about this before on the blog…
I’ve made my fair share of spendy home purchases over the years… custom upholstery, lighting, custom drapery, a fancy custom dog bed with french fabric (haha! Emmett was not happy about that one), artwork, and plenty of permanent fixtures that were splurge-worthy. Do I regret any of those purchases? Not really- well, maybe the dog bed because Finn ended up ruining it… you live, you learn. Anyway- the most expensive piece of furniture Emmett and I own is our custom leather bed. You can read all about it in this post (plus shop similar options), but long story short- I was working at a design firm and custom designed our leather bed. It was the first piece of quality furniture we purchased and it has lived in every one of our homes with us. Our style has evolved over the years, but the (almost 10 year old) bed has held up beautifully, aged with grace (we’ve got a nice patina going), and has blended nicely with the aesthetic of each home we lived in. It’s a special piece of furniture to us! The total cost was around $8k, but I was able to use my designer discount and snag it for a bit less (~$5k).
If you’re trying to justify spending serious money on a piece of furniture for your home, these are the questions I always consider prior to purchasing…
- Does it make you happy?
- Does it have sentimental value (or will it eventually)?
- Is it a high-quality (or heirloom) piece?
- Will I love this for years to come?
- Is it unique, vintage, one-of-a-kind, or custom?
Our bed is pretty much all of those things: high quality, custom, we’ve loved it for years, and it makes us happy. It is also sentimental because I consider it a “gift” from my Dad. After he passed away, I inherited a small amount and we were able to purchase this bed right after getting married. It felt like a huge purchase at the time, but a special one that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I think he would’ve liked that we did something for ourselves. It’s just a bonus that it makes us think of him.
Even if I answer yes to only one of the aforementioned questions, that is enough reason for me. I think it’s all about what you feel comfortable investing in. At the end of the day, this is YOUR home and YOU get to decide what you bring into it, how much money you spend, and how you curate your space.
Will there ever be a more expensive piece of furniture I’ll invest in someday? I’d probably guess yes, eventually… but I have no idea what that will be or where it fits into our house. I’d love a new sofa in our basement someday! I also envision some beautiful furniture in my home office someday. I’m not sure if those pieces will have a higher price tag than our bed, but I’m sure something will come along (that I just can’t pass up) someday.
I think my point of this post was to share the following thoughts…
- Mixing high and low is an awesome way to achieve a curated interior that fits your aesthetic, while feeling meaningful.
- Sometimes the best things in your home are worth saving for.
- Talking about budgets, timelines, and design decisions help set realistic expectations.
- Do what makes you happy and spend your money on things that bring you joy- whatever that might be (home related or not).
What is the most expensive piece of furniture you own? Are you interested in hearing about the most inexpensive pieces found throughout my house? Most of those are thrifted, but there are some things I’ve purchased and still really love. I’m also linking some similar beds for you below! I’m asked about the source for ours ALL the time.
PeggiSeptember 1, 2020 at 5:42 am
I love Susan and her talk about budgets and buying! I think your guiding questions seem smart; I especially consider quality and the vintage or special factor. I also am more likely to splurge if I have some “free money”- a bonus from work, a tax refund. In general, though, most of my home purchases are vintage or thrifted and well under a thousand dollars. I’ve kind of turned finding the highest quality at the lowest price into a sport!🤣 Sometimes the hunt is more satisfying than the purchase. Cheers to doing what makes you happy!💜
SarahSeptember 1, 2020 at 8:19 am
Yes!! Totally agree, Peggi. I love the thrill of the hunt for a quality vintage piece! Our most special pieces of furniture in our home are vintage and cost under $300. You know I’m all about mixing :) Happy Tuesday and indeed- cheers to doing what makes you happy! xo
Tara CSeptember 1, 2020 at 6:41 am
Thank you so much for your openness. I really appreciate it, and love your style. I’m so impressed by how much you and your husband are able to DIY. Do you already have a post about how you save for renovations? I have a one and a three year old and my husband and I try to make every dollar work (saving for college, retirement, etc.). How do you decide how much to put toward a renovation? Do you invest less so that you can afford the next house project? Thank you for any insight you feel comfortable sharing!
SarahSeptember 1, 2020 at 8:26 am
Thank you, Tara! I need to do an updated post on how we plan and save for renovating. We’ll save and make sure the funds are accounted for BEFORE we dive into a project. For large scale projects, we make sure it’s within our means / budget long term. For example, our kitchen (being more expensive)… we were able to pay off a couple months after the project wrapped up. My husband is in finance / accounting, so he’s all about spreadsheets and planning. In terms of deciding how much to put into a renovation, check out this post on considering your home’s value, as well as this post. Over renovating is a bad investment (money you won’t recoup), so we always consider how much will go into our home (for us to enjoy and for resale value). We consider our home an investment, but we also have other investments for diversification (not home related- like retirement accounts, etc), that we’re smart about balancing. Hope this helps :) Maybe I’ll convince Emmett to share a budgeting / planning / money / finance post since he’s the expert. Haha!
DeborahSeptember 1, 2020 at 7:33 am
My most expensive home-related purchase was a grand piano. I was 25 at the time (nearly 17 years ago — yikes!), in my first apartment that I lived in completely on my own, and I wanted a piano. My original thought was that I’d find myself an “interim” piano — probably a decent upright piano that would tide me over until I could get a real one a few years later. But then during the months-long process of piano shopping, I quickly realized that I was a skilled enough pianist with a good enough ear that “interim” pianos didn’t feel right and didn’t sound right. I absolutely loved a $42,000 piano and tried to figure out if there was any way I could swing it, but ultimately I found a beautiful newly-restored piano that I loved almost as much for the low low price of $25,000. Still a ridiculous amount of money for a 25-year-old, but a really good value for a piano of that quality. I was able to finance it like a car, which maybe wasn’t the smartest financial decision, but I’ve never regretted getting that piano, and I know I would have regretted it had I settled for a piano I didn’t love.
DeborahSeptember 1, 2020 at 8:08 am
Oh, and I had carefully measured my living room in my little apartment to make sure it would fit The piano is a 6’2″ grand, and I might have been able to squeeze something up to 6’4″, but no larger. There it sat (and was played, of course) for 14 years with the furniture arranged in the only way it could be arranged so that it would fit the piano, the couch, the coffee table, and the TV, and so that you could actually get into the room from the exterior door. There was about an 8-inch gap between the edge of the couch and the side of the piano where you could squeeze through in order to sit at the piano and play. When we finally bought a house almost 3 years ago, the piano ended up with its own room! (And then, of course, we decided that the music room needed a chandelier, and we bought one for about 4k, so another expensive purchase.) It also required that piano movers put it on a crane and lift it up onto the front porch because the new lot is on a hill and there are about 20 steps up to the front door!
SarahSeptember 1, 2020 at 8:45 am
This makes it even more special, Deborah! How incredible to have a gorgeous piano room in your home. Lighting is another item I’m willing to spend money on. It makes a big difference and you can really tell the difference in a quality piece. The piano movers and the crane sounds like a stressful scene to watch. I bet you were a bit nervous! That was smart of you to hire professionals for that project. Haha! Have a great Tuesday :)
SarahSeptember 1, 2020 at 8:31 am
I love your story, Deborah! Cheers to doing things and making decisions that bring us happiness. Do you still have the piano? I’m sure it has brought you many joyful moments over the years! Great tip on scouring the market for restored pianos or pieces of furniture. In my experience- buying secondhand is the best way to get a designer or high-end piece for a fraction of the price… even if it takes some restoration or reupholstery. I’ve always wanted to learn piano, by the way. I begged my parents for lessons as a child and teenager. Someday, I’d love to take lessons. What a beautiful way to make music and you sound so talented!
AmySeptember 1, 2020 at 7:53 am
Last weekend, I stumbled on a pair of custom 3-seat sofas, upholstered in floral SCALAMANDRE fabric (“Gabriella”) with 9 inch scalamandre rope fringe, absolute mint condition on Facebook Marketplace. The seller (who was clearly very wealthy) told me she paid $10,000 each for them and I bought them for….$300 dollars each. Not $3,000. $300. She had downsized to a…smaller mansion? and these didn’t fit anymore. She couldn’t bear to give them away but didn’t really need the money. The sofas also happened to match my decor PERFECTLY. So I rented a UHaul and drove the 4 hours round trip to Chicago by myself, loaded those puppies up, and am keeping one and selling the other on Chairish. I’m still giddy from it all. Not sure if this is okay to say, but…if anyone is interested in buying the other one, it should be up on Chairish in the next few days. Just search under scalamandre. lol — I’m ALL about the deal. In fact, we bought our newly renovated kitchen “used” from another mansion in Chicago. It came with all the cabinetry, countertops, fixtures, appliances (3 subzero fridges!), wet bar. The most high-end stuff you can get, pretty much. As you can tell, I’m all about the deal BUT I’m planning on buying an “investment” antique Turkish rug once the dog goes to heaven and the kids are a little older. There’s nothing like an heirloom quality rug.
SarahSeptember 1, 2020 at 8:35 am
OMG! Talk about the find of a lifetime, Amy! Those sofas sound insanely gorgeous- what a steal. I also love a good deal and am constantly scouring FBMP (nothing good in my area lately though). You’re welcome to share a link here in the comment thread, if you’d like. Selfishly- I’d just love to see them! Haha :) Chicago is a goldmine for home decor and furnishings. Totally agree – there is nothing like a quality, heirloom rug! Cheers to fun finds, deals, and beautiful design!
Amy PeaseSeptember 4, 2020 at 7:38 am
Here’s the Chairish link in case you’re curious. :-). https://www.chairish.com/product/id/2627917?guid=g9jvd6
DannaSeptember 1, 2020 at 8:06 am
I enjoyed reading this post and hearing your thoughts. I would like to read Susan’s opinions on this as well.
Your bed is timeless. Love it! Lucky for me my husband keeps me grounded when it comes to buying expensive pieces of furniture. When I see something that I can’t stop thinking about and want but it is more than a mortgage payment or two, I will try to find a comparable one or wait for a good sale. Sometimes I use my birthday & Christmas gift as a deal to purchase it…LOL! Now if we are talking clothes, this is a whole other ballgame. I love finding “knock offs” or crazy deals on name brand items.
Would enjoy reading about your inexpensive finds too. Curious if you ever sell any furniture and if so, on what format (fb marketplace, craigslist, local, all 3, or ?). Have a great Tuesday!
SarahSeptember 1, 2020 at 8:41 am
Thank you, Danna! I also hoard “extra” or “surprise” funds (bonus, refund, birthday money, etc) to pool together for a larger item I want. Haha! So smart! I’m not as into clothing or fashion, so I’m always shopping at budget-friendly stores, and only splurging from time-to-time on staple pieces for my closet. Isn’t it interesting how we like to spend our hard earned dollars? For me, it’s always home finds (or travel). For Emmett, it’s outdoor gear (and home things as well). For others, it’s their wardrobe. I find this all so fascinating! I’ll post about my least expensive finds and furniture next :) In terms of selling furniture or decor- usually a combination of those outlets. Craiglist isn’t a thing here in Utah (instead we have KSL), but I use all of them: FBMP, local, KSL, Chairish (online), etc. It also depends what I’m selling, as I’ve found each outlet caters to a different audience. Our extra tools, building materials, and outdoor gear does best on KSL (like a Craigslist). High end home decor does best on FBMP or Chairish. Hope you have an awesome Tuesday!
Cici HausSeptember 1, 2020 at 12:36 pm
I work in the aviation industry and my most expensive purchase was a vintage Cessna dresser. Yes – Cessna! As in the plane maker. For a brief period, less than five years, after WWII Cessna made furniture with metal they took from out-of-commission aircraft. It’s a tallboy dresser and it’s wood on the front drawers and frame, but the back, drawers and interior are all metal. It’s so cool! I’ve used it in my dining room to store servingware in two houses. Definitely worth $850!
SarahSeptember 1, 2020 at 1:58 pm
That is so fascinating, Cici! It sounds like a unique, special, and beautiful piece… definitely worth that! I think furniture with sentimental value or some sort of tie to our life are the best kind. I love that it reflects your occupation and passion in regards to aviation :)
LaurenSeptember 2, 2020 at 2:29 pm
Currently, my most expensive piece of furniture is the couch we use in our family room. This is only the second brand new couch we’ve owned as a couple, and considering everyone spends time in that room it seemed like a worthy investment. We have an unspoken policy around here that we won’t spend more than 1k on any furniture piece until the kids are out of the “thrash, crash, stash” stage…we’re getting there, and I’m making my list of pieces we need to update, sell, and purchase. So funny that Cici mentioned the Cessna dresser in her comment! I used to own one of those; a tall-boy all metal that my grandfather purchased from one of his shipmates when they arrived back in the states from overseas. My grandmother loved that piece of furniture, and I did as well. Sadly, I didn’t realize their value and foolishly allowed a friend to borrow it, and I never got it back. That friend left it in the landlord’s possession upon moving, and never notified me to come pick it up. Hard, hard, lesson learned because it had so much more sentimental value to me.
SarahSeptember 4, 2020 at 10:58 am
A sofa is definitely a worthy investment… our sofa is probably our second most expensive piece of furniture, but we went cheap the first time around and it was not comfortable or durable (lesson learned). I’m cracking up at the “thrash, crash, stash” phase!! Crazy story about your dresser (and the fact that Cici has one too)- I didn’t know these even existed until her comment. I’m so sorry you lost your grandfather’s. Are you still friends with the friend? Ha! Such a bummer- I’m sorry about that entire situation. Sentimental pieces are truly the best and it’s tough to lose those special pieces. xo