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Three Tiers of Furniture Quality

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I believe the furniture world is split up into essentially three tiers:

  • IKEA and disposable furniture
  • Roomstore, Value City, moderately priced furniture
  • MasterCraft Interiors (if they weren’t bankrupt), high end furniture that can be passed from generation to generation

Up until now, I’ve lived solely in the realm of the IKEA, Target, Wal-Mart world where the furniture was cheaply priced and, for all intents and purposes, the quality of the product was good enough for my uses. A bookcase is a bookcase and whether it’s $80 or $800, it holds books right? And if you move every year, or even every few years, you don’t want the high end or even the moderately priced furniture because you’re going to ding it, scratch it, bang it into walls, put unreasonable and undesigned stresses on it, and it’s going to shorten the lifespan of the product.

Well, now that I don’t foresee us doing any moving, I believe it’s time to move up the spectrum from IKEA to at least a Roomstore, Value City quality of product. Now, before you all jump on me about putting IKEA at the low end, I do so because I think anything there with moving parts has a lifespan of approximately three years (that’s if you don’t move). Furniture without moving parts are slightly more durable, bookcase shelves usually don’t bow for a long time and anything made of metal lasts “forever.” Honestly, IKEA knows what its doing, it positions itself as a cheap supplier of furniture and for many types of products it is still #1 on my list.

Will you ever see me buying something on the high end level? Maybe, who knows, being the son of immigrants, our family doesn’t have a long history in the country and thus there isn’t any furniture to pass down and so its not something that has ever entered into my mind. Should I buy it because it lasts? Perhaps, but spending a ridiculous sum of money on a dining room table that can get scuffed and scratched like an IKEA special isn’t something that appeals to me…

We spent the weekend walking around Roomstore looking for a little bench, seeing the beds and the couches on sale, and so I thought I’d put digital pen to paper and see what you all thought. I think I’m officially old now. Anyone have any thoughts on furniture?

{ 35 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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35 Responses to “Three Tiers of Furniture Quality”

  1. Diana says:

    I don’t even bother much with the normal furniture stores, I find alot of good pieces either in flea markets, antique stores or gasp, YARD SALES! Actually, when we moved from PA to KY, I was wondering how we’d ever afford to buy a matching coffee table/end table set. Seeing that Walmart and Kmart were selling pieces of crap for over $100, I keep searching the yard sales. One day I found a very nice coffee table and end table set for $35! Our newest bedroom furniture is a chest of drawers, long dresser, and 2 matching end tables, along with a headboard/footboard that’s too small for our bed. This set cost us $300, and you could tell was sitting in someone’s attic or basement, but was in terrific shape after we vacuumed out the insides and cleaned them all over. I would’nt waste my money in a fancy expensive furniture store unless I had Oprah Winfrey’s bank account!

  2. Matt says:

    Since Gomer Bolstrood is simply a figment of Neal Stephenson’s imagination, I haven’t seriously attempted to purchase decent furniture new. Eventually, of course, I’ll be getting either 2/3 or 3/4 (depending on what order my mother’s generation dies in) of my grandmother’s furniture…but for now, my fiancee and are are mostly living on the stuff she inherited from her own grandparents…supplemented by some things bought from antique stores. The only thing we have that’s new is our mattress and box spring…and those are a place where you want the benefits of modern civilization. 🙂

  3. T. says:

    My boyfriend and I purchased 3 waist-high drawers for the bedroom to store clothing a year ago. While assembling the pieces were wobbly to begin with. Within a month we had to reinforce everything with gorilla glue and industrial staples to support the boards to hold the clothes up! We’re in our early 20s and sure everything falls apart, but we’re still finding our place in life and moving again in May and will be returning to Ikea for replacement disposable furniture.

  4. Michael M says:

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  5. Mats says:

    I agree with Tim, who writes: “I would tend to place them in the mid-range, despite their low average cost.”

    The reason for that is that IKEA do provide superior value in terms of quality for the price. In sharp contrast to most of their competitors IKEA also do reliability testing on a lot of their products.

    In the Swedish edition (and perhaps in international editions) of the IKEA catalog they tell about how IKEA put sofas and beds to rigorous mechanical testing, equal to multiple years of heavy everyday usage.

    For this reason I would hesitate to buy a similarly or even comparably higher priced leather sofa from a competitor, while I would trust IKEA to provide me with a product that I can use for the next eight to twelve years to come.

  6. Bliss says:

    My favorite furniture sources: estate sales, thrift stores, and antique malls. That way I can buy high/medium end at pennies on the dollar.

    Finding good upholstered pieces in those places is the greatest challenge, though it can be done. But tables, dressers, chests, occasional chairs, etc.–why would anyone ever pay retail?

    And lamps…my favorite. I find I can have a lamp rewired for about $15, a new shade for $15-50, and great looking, high quality lamps typically for well under $100. I spell that FUN!

    Over the years my eye has become more educated so that I can spot quality readily and take home some wonderful buys. As added advantage to this way of shopping is that my interiors look nicely unstudied. Though not thrown together–I’m thoughtful about what I add and mix–they never suffer from looking trite or too perfect. I like to think of it as rooms that “grow,” piece by piece, a kind of organic art form (maybe that means what I’m trying to convey).

    Anyway, you get my drift…

  7. Hahaha says:

    I had to post on this site when I read that people stated that Mastercraft is high end furniture. LMFAO–I had never even heard of Mastercraft until now, but just by the cheesy name, I knew it was crap. HIGH END: Baker, Henredon, Bernhardt, Drexel HERITAGE, etc.

  8. Sen says:

    I am a immigrant and lived the life of temporary presence so I preferred IKEA. I liked the varieties and the quality is at low end. It will come for 2-3 years if you move once or twice. Now I bought a house and looking some more furniture still confused where to go but surely NOT to IKEA. This time may be I want to see room store.

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