Buy Once, Buy For Life: Furniture

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Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. ~ Steve Jobs

Seems this new Buy Once, Buy for Life series has some serious fans! When I announced this series back in July I figured some of you guys would find it useful and some of you would just gloss over it, but it turns out that there are many readers who are sick and tired of buying cheap, crappy goods that are in need of constant replacement.

For a long time we have been convinced that our disposable lifestyle was the only way to go but it’s time we turn back the clock and spend our money on quality items that can last a lifetime (or two). If that’s what you are thinking too, you aren’t alone. Here are some recent comments from readers of the series:

Pleaseee keep on writing about the buy once, buy for life!!! Great Job!!

Thank you for these articles! I’ve been eyeing a Red Oxx bag for a while now. Don’t stop!

I’m happy to see someone posting quality over cheap price. Let’s get out of the planned planned obsolescence age.

This is a great series! I get so fed up with trying to find quality items that will last. Thanks for starting this series!

I appreciate all the input and topic suggestions I have been receiving via email and if you have one of your own please feel free to get in touch. This week I will be talking a little about furniture and how we can make purchasing decisions that will not only save us money over the long run but will also help protect our environment.

Buy Once, Buy For Life Furniture

Many years ago I purchased this desk from the company Room & Board. It has a solid maple wood top (no veneers) and steel legs. It was built in Minnesota by wood and metal craftspeople who build each one by hand, signing the bottom with their name and date of build. The wood is sustainably sourced and the legs are made from 30 percent recycled steel. It’s simple, well-built, seemingly indestructible, and it will last me the rest of my life. If I had found a desk made from reclaimed wood that was this well-made back then, I would have considered that as well. I couldn’t be happier with my decision as I sit at that desk now typing out this post.

Most furniture sold at big-box stores is made from particle board or MDF and is designed to be disposable. That’s why it’s so cheap. IKEA and Target sell a ton of this kind of furniture, but it’s not going to last you the rest of your life. What would you rather do, buy a cheap dining room table every 5-10 years or buy one once that you can hand down to your grandchildren? As much as I like the way some of the pieces look that those companies sell and I have bought my fair share of them over the years, they are not heirloom pieces. They are made cheaply to be sold cheaply, but that does neither you nor the planet any favors.

With that in mind, here are some companies you may want to check out the next time you are in the market for well-built furniture made from solid materials. Most are made entirely in the US but more importantly they should last you a lifetime and some.

  • Room & Board – More than 90 percent of their goods are made by American craftspeople – woodworkers, weavers, printmakers, metalworkers and artists in communities across the United States. “We seek out companies who share our passion for design and respect for materials,” says the company.
  • Whit McCleod – In their shop up in Northern California, Whit McCleod builds furniture using reclaimed and salvaged wood. If there is ever a problem with a piece, the company will replace or repair it at no charge.
  • Vermont Woods Studios – Vermont Woods Studios showcases Vermont’s best fine furniture makers. These craftsmen have been creating exclusively 100% American-made collections of heirloom quality, real solid wood furniture for generations. Handmade using premium solid hardwoods which are sustainably harvested from well managed forests. Their products come with a lifetime guarantee.
  • Keating Woodworks – Geoffrey Keating is a fifth-generation furniture maker who is guided by his grandfathers’ 18th-century values of craftsmanship. All the pieces made by Keating use either salvaged or sustainably harvested North American hardwoods and are built with traditional joinery methods. They are guaranteed for the life of the original owner.
  • Lehman’s – Lehman’s sells all sorts of well-made, old-fashioned goods. A lot of their furniture comes from Amish craftspeople.
  • Furniture by Dovetail – Each piece purchased from Dovetail is handcrafted and built specifically for each customer’s order, and raw materials with minimal toxics content and FSC-certified lumber are used whenever possible. Founded in 1988, the owners set out on a mission to create handcrafted furniture of exceptional quality and lasting beauty.
  • The Joinery – The Joinery, founded by Marc Gaudin in Portland, Oregon builds heirloom quality furniture that is guaranteed for life. Each piece is signed and dated by its creator, its delivery trucks run on biofuel, the facility runs on 100 percent wind power, and all wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. In addition, the company donates 8 percent of profits to charity and offers woodworking classes to the local community.
  • Semigood – Semigood Design makes handcrafted American furniture to order in their shop in Seattle. The wood they use is FSC-certified and they offer a lifetime warranty on their products to the original purchaser.

This list is only a sampling to get you started and interested in purchasing your next furniture piece from companies doing quality work with real materials. Buying these kinds of goods keeps waste out of landfills, keeps raw materials from being over-harvested, and saves you money over your lifetime. Check out the companies I listed above and be sure to search out local manufacturers and craftspeople who are still building furniture meant to last forever. Disposable = garbage and we certainly don’t need any more of that in our world.

Buy Once, Buy For Life. Stop buying cheap crap.

See all the articles in the Buy Once, Buy For Life series.

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