Is fur­ni­ture an in­vest­ment?

Should I view fur­ni­ture as an in­vest­ment?

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Tracey Strange

The idea of fur­ni­ture as heir­looms, be­ing passed on through gen­er­a­tions, is sat­is­fy­ing. But col­lectable items aren’t cheap and can some­times seem like an un­nec­es­sary ex­pense. What should you look for when buy­ing fur­ni­ture and why?

“Gen­uine sec­ond-hand Eames chairs are al­most as ex­pen­sive as the new ones made in Michi­gan,” says Andy Jones of Auck­land mid-cen­tury de­sign store, Karak­ter, which sells both new and re­stored fur­ni­ture.

“They hold their value and get bet­ter as time passes. Some, like vin­tage cars, can be worth more than their new equiv­a­lent. But it’s more than the money. Ev­ery time you sit in it you know that it’s orig­i­nal. It will be more com­fort­able, the leather will soften, and the chair will gain a much-de­sired fin­ish.”

The sen­ti­ment is shared by busi­ness part­ner An­drew Lay. “A beau­ti­ful, hand-crafted side­board made in the 1960s by a top man­u­fac­turer will now of­ten be found in liv­ing as op­posed to din­ing rooms. The mod­ern equiv­a­lent would cost at least three times as much and lack the patina that helps make a home unique.” Mid-cen­tury fur­ni­ture doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily in­crease in value as the years pass – it’s just far less likely to de­pre­ci­ate. But not ex­clu­sively. “Many 1960s pieces have seen value in­creases over the years, and I see no rea­son why this shouldn’t con­tinue,” says Lay. “It’s sim­ple sup­ply and de­mand.

“The best in­vest­ment pieces are those by the high-end de­sign­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers. The prove­nance is es­sen­tial — maker’s marks, orig­i­nal­ity and qual­ity be­ing all im­por­tant. Gen­uine mid-cen­tury fur­ni­ture will be more ex­pen­sive than the high- street re­pro­duc­tions but sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper than their new equiv­a­lent pieces. And be­cause of their qual­ity of ma­te­ri­als and crafts­man­ship, gen­uine pieces can be re­stored to their for­mer glory. Poorly made fur­ni­ture with cheaper ma­te­ri­als tends to wear out quickly if used reg­u­larly. The cost of re-up­hol­ster­ing a re­pro­duc­tion Eames lounge chair is of­ten more than the cost of the chair in the first place.”

When it comes to where in­vest­ment should be made, both men ad­vise spend­ing money on fur­ni­ture you look at the most. “Com­pro­mise on the items that aren’t used on a daily ba­sis, per­haps a rug that sits un­der a ta­ble, and ba­si­cally just live with less,” says Lay. That’s not to say a mix of high-end and high-street doesn’t work. “It’s your house. Buy what looks nice and is com­fort­able,” he says. “But orig­i­nal pieces look as the de­signer in­tended right down to the last de­tail, and it’s of­ten the de­tails that make a piece a plea­sure to look at. Know­ing the fur­ni­ture will last, will have his­tory, and be able to be passed to the next gen­er­a­tion is grat­i­fy­ing.”

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