I used to tell my husband that soon we would start buying 'real furniture' when we got to our forever home. But what did that mean? I always felt like my parents had 'real furniture'. They committed to it, it was expensive, they kept it. They cleaned it with wood specific cleaners and the fanciest pieces were kept in rooms we weren't allowed to play in. When a coffee table got scratched, it was a big deal. They dusted it, maintained it, and then when I grew up, I realized I wanted it. I reclaimed my old dresser when they downsized and switched out the hardware for the nursery. I desperately held onto the childhood sofa that I watched so many 'Say Yes To The Dress' episodes on with my mom eating Cookie dough.
As my parents moved on to a new lifestyle, I became the Guardian of these pieces. Not because they asked, but because they had become old friends of mine. They were characters in my life and I didn't want to let them go. And now... albeit the couch is ready for some new springs and I'd love a light blue upholstery, it warms my heart to no end to see my own kids jumping on it and snuggling up to watch a show with me.
So much so, that it was sometime around age 30 when I realized it was time to start waiting to buy. I had all the off the shelf furniture and accessories that I could just pick up super quick at the grocery store. But what I realized is that... None of it really held value for me. It wasn't about how much it cost, it began to matter how it worked, how it was built, how it lasted. So many things I had, broke, and ... I realized I didn't really care, because I knew I could just buy another cheap new one.
But then I met the mirror.
I had dreams of a circular mirror for above our fireplace. I decided that would be our first piece of 'real furniture'. But we couldn't afford it. Looking back now, it really wasn't very expensive, but we just weren't used to spending the extra money in that area of our lives. So we waited.
We waited until we got a gift card to the store and then we bought it and paid the difference. It was heavy. The wood was real. The mirror was crisp. I realized we would have it forever. I was excited about finally having something that was worth protecting. Something that felt substantial.
And I realized in that moment that there was a version of myself that bought things to impress others, without a lot of value to me, then there was this. This mirror that didn't look particularly ornate and could easily be mass produced for less, but that didn't matter - because I knew that what I had was better. It was built well and I didn't need the world to weigh in on it because I just knew it was of value to me.
And while I believe a house is meant to live it and we shouldn't be afraid to touch the furniture or use the nice dishes, I realized that was all the more reason to get the 'good stuff'.
That it was okay to wait a little bit too save up to buy the thing you actually want and not just what you can get the quickest. Because that anticipation, that saving, that care that you focus on that new piece of furniture, is what makes it special to you.
The intentionality is important. Making your purchases, the 'characters' in your life is important. Because when we see our purchases as more than just, the shelf we know will break soon, or the laminate covered particle board that we know will gash, we weave them into our lives, because we know we can depend on them to show up for us everyday and do their job.
And one day, maybe our kids will remember how much they loved hiding little notes in the credenza, or pushing around the kitchen chairs as they learned to walk, and they will cherish them too. This is the stuff of heirlooms, and heirlooms, don't end up in landfills.