Beware of Pretty Things: 4 Reasons I’m Keeping My Ugly, Old Stuff
I hadn’t been out shopping at a furniture mega-store in over 6 months. I just didn’t have the money to buy anything, and to be honest, I was way too busy to shop. Last night, however, I strolled through the furniture showroom with my jaw unhinged and my heart thumping: “Look at all this good-looking stuff!”
My husband, who is unusually thrifty, wasn’t immune, either. He started pondering where the cherry-finished dresser could go in our room, what kind of storage the under-bed cabinets could provide, and how a smallish, 5-drawer dresser could keep the kids’ clothes under control. “$187 is actually a steal,” we both thought at the same time.
Wait. What was happening? We had scrimped and saved through years of lay-offs, the start of a home business, and four closely-spaced children. We were looking at ways to save money with our own cows, chickens, and a spacious garden. Why would we so carelessly consider jumping on this “gotta have it” bandwagon? After some careful consideration, we left the store empty-handed. They didn’t have the exact item we came for, but there were other reasons for keeping our heads on our shoulders (and our money in our pockets).
My stuff is better
Sure, my dresser had crayon scribbles on the side, sported a horrible pink trim, and was given to me by my mom (who had gotten it from her mom 20 years before). It was ugly to look at, but it did the job just fine. (In fact, after regularly abusing the drawers on my 1950s dresser, I was disgusted at the cheap particle-board and plastic rails that most of the “new” showroom dressers were made of. Thank goodness for solid hardwood and indestructible steel riveting.)
My stuff isn’t noticed
Why did I need beautiful, matching furniture? Part of the allure was to be able to show it off when people came to visit. I often cringed a bit when guests would stay over, explaining to them that the mismatched, second-hand guest bedroom set was “temporary” (although I doubt they even noticed). As I’ve grown more comfortable with my lifestyle, I’ve found ways to work around the magazine chic that seems to impress others. I can keep my junk looking smart by refinishing wooden furniture, throwing matching slip-covers over faded couches, and keeping a nice fabric tablecloth on hand for when guests arrive. The other furniture (like that in my bedroom), won’t be seen by anyone but my husband and myself, anyway.
My stuff is paid for
When it all comes down to it, I wasn’t comfortable charging any of the furniture on my credit card (not that I’m anti-credit). I thought about how hard I worked, and it wasn’t in me to write extra articles or take more time away from my kids to have matching chairs in the dining room. Most of my furniture, in fact, was not only paid for, but it was paid for by previous generations and set out on the curb (where I so kindly took it off their hands).
My stuff is mine
Sometimes, when no one is looking, I admire the way my nightstand holds my favorite book, some cough drops, and a few scented candles so perfectly. It fits just right alongside my bed, and it reminds me of the nights spent comforting a sick child, while the rest of the world was fast asleep. There is a kind of romance that can develop between an ugly piece of furniture and its owner. (My favorite dresser from high school still features a few bumper stickers from concerts that my parents wouldn’t let me attend.)
The next time you start to get a little impatient with your current décor, remember that function trumps fashion. Some furniture can bring an aesthetic beauty to your home that may well be worth the investment. If it doesn’t meet your needs, however, it was worthless from the moment you bought it.
So what are your thoughts on old, ugly furniture? Do you love it? Hate it? Live with it because you have to?
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