You know what they say: Buy nice or buy twice! It’s oftentimes worth investing a little extra upfront to purchase a quality piece of furniture that will stand the test of time. We polled Southern interior designers and asked them to weigh in with their top picks for furniture pieces that will become a fixture in your home for several decades, and you’ll find their eeight favorite items below.
A Dining Table
As Kevin O’Gara, the founder of Kevin Francis Design in Atlanta suggests purchasing a vintage or antique dining table with removable leaves and incorporating this preloved piece into a contemporary home. “I love the story an old table can tell through its patina from dinner parties and family meals, and an extendable table can go from apartment living to a large dining room,” he explains. “Plus, I’m a big fan of an old table with modern dining chairs to create a sophisticated contrast!”
Mary Buford Guthridge, the founder of James Interiors in Richmond, Virginia, agrees that any well-made dining table is a no-brainer investment piece. “Whether a passed down family heirloom or a custom made creation, they have the potential to host special milestones for generations to come,” she says.
A Gilded Mirror
A great gilded mirror can shine in many different spots throughout the home as the years go by, says Minnette Jackson, the founder of Minnette Jackson Interiors in Houston. “With a larger size, you have the perfect piece for an entry mirror, over a dining room sideboard, over a pretty chest, or over a sofa accompanied with a grouping of plates or art,” she says. “A more petite mirror is wonderful in a powder bath or small guest room.”
A Grandfather Clock
This timeless piece is still a favorite for Natalie Hager, the founder of Natalie Hager Interiors in Nashville. “Whether they are from the 17th century all the way up until the last century (what I call semi-antique or vintage), these ‘potentates’ of time create such nostalgia for me in a space,” she says. “ I love when the clock strikes the hour and a beautiful melody plays.” Hager likes to style grandfather clocks in foyers and hallways.
A China Cabinet
A china cabinet can house much more than just your fancy serving ware. “You can also use it to store everyday items, such as glassware and bowls,” says Ellen Kastelberg, the founder of Ellen Kastelberg Interiors in Richmond.
A Wooden Dresser
“When it comes to furniture investments, I tend to think of wooden antiques,” says O’Gara, who also suggests buying a wooden or antique dresser in particular due to this piece’s versatility. “I’ve placed dressers in entryways, living rooms, dining rooms, and of course bedrooms,” he shares. “They are great, versatile storage pieces that can work anywhere with a pretty tray and lamp on top!” Jackson is also partial to a well-made chest. “Look for chests with quality construction, warm woods that age well like walnut, and styles that are classic and mix easily with different styles of decor,” she suggests. In particular, Jackson appreciates French directoire, Louis Philippe, and French empire chests. “They have beautiful details while still maintaining a clean look.”
A Secretary Desk
Romanticize the art of jotting down your daily to do list by purchasing a secretary desk that will add both beauty and function to any room of the home. “A great alternative for a writing desk, and it also functions as a great storage piece,” Kastelberg says. “ And perhaps one of the best things about this piece is that you can fold up the table at any point to conceal your desk items.”
A Classic Chair
Don’t underestimate the power of stylish seating.” A classic chair can always find a spot in a new home, whether it be as an armchair in a living room or the perfect bedroom chair for you or guests to perch and put on shoes,” Jackson says. She suggests purchasing a sturdy piece that isn’t too small or large with a seat height that is roughly 18 to 19 inches tall to ensure maximum comfort, no matter who is sitting down. “The chair can be old or new, and a neutral fabric will make it extra versatile,” she adds. “Over the years, it can easily be recovered as needed to suit a new design scheme.”
A Quality Sofa
Even though your sofa will certainly get plenty of day to day use, it can last you quite a while if you choose the right one! “A sofa or other fabric covered piece of furniture might eventually need to be reupholstered but it can be worth your while if it’s comfortable and has a good, solid frame,” says Laura Hodges, the owner and principal designer at Laura Hodges Studio in Catonsville, Maryland. “We bought our last sofa second hand, kept it for 15 years and now a family member has it!”