I was asked the other day "what should I be buying?" And wow, that's a knotty one! I'm got out of it by deploying the William Morris side-step. As old Bill said, "have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful" (my underline - the two are linked, not either/or). He's right. If you need something, buy the best one you can, by which I mean the one that is most practical for your needs and make it the most beautiful example that you can find. Don't buy for investment, at least if you do, on your own head be it. I won't advise you on that score. Stuff that I think is underpriced has gone down and stuff that I think is overpriced in comparison remains so. I think the market is going through yet another hiatus. And that of course is good news for you because there are bargains out there. My goodness there are.
All dear William is saying, is buy the stuff you love. He measured it by practicality, you might have some other criteria, but if you buy things that speak to your heart as well as your head, then you and he are as one.
As to the investment side, well I would say this; if you buy something you love, and you buy the best example of that you can find, then come the day when your taste changes, as it will, and you want shot of it, you will have something that someone else will love too. It will have a value. With luck, that value will have increased while you owned it. If not, I seriously doubt it will have gone down from where things are at the moment, and at worst you will get most if not all your money back. Try saying that about a bit of Ikea furniture. And yes, there are many of who were taken by surprise by the demand for Ercol in the last five or so years, but Ikea stuff is nowhere near the quality and will never, ever, be worth as much as you pay for it. As soon as you get it home and insert the first threaded bolt you have devalued your item to a few car boot quid. That's the reality of Ikea. Why would you, when for a bit of effort and very few pounds more you could have bought something that will be beautiful, practical and not a complete throwaway at the end?
Of course, they have their place. What do you think my 70's LPs are stored in? I just could not find a Chippendale piece that took a vinyl album, let alone 600 of them. But one day, the reformed wood will be pulped again and I will be loading my LPs onto a fine oak bookcase. Or my son will be loading them into his car as I concentrate on my new job of pushing up the daisies.
A good bit of furniture will last and be passed on down the generations. I don't think they will thank me for the Ikea record shelves though. But every day I walk past my grandmother's drum dining table and I let my hand brush it in homage, and I think of Granny sitting at it, proffering shortbread. It is a source of great pleasure, and it's a beautiful thing too.
My clothes are kept in my Mum's old Georgian chest of drawers, that she used to have in her room, and I work at home at her desk, bought in Honiton for about £400 thirty or more years ago. If we ignore the small accident with the superglue and the leather top, it would now be worth about double what she paid for it. Ask yourself if a bit of Ikea furniture will be doing the same thing for your kids in thirty years. Providing such memories while growing a little. No, its dead money, your Ikea and its equivalents. Dead wasted money. And is that a practical use of your hard earned? I'd say not. Remember William, take him with you: Practical plus Beautiful, and frankly, you won't go far wrong
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