The Best and Worst Buys I've Ever Made for My Home

The Best and Worst Buys I've Ever Made for My Home

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Nancy Mitchell
Aug 12, 2015

I'd like to pretend that working for a design blog has meant that I've always made the best, smartest purchases for my home, but that hasn't always been the case. Here are three really good purchases I've made, and three not so good ones, in hopes that you can learn from my mistakes.

The best things I've ever bought for my home:

That couch.
I've mentioned this before, but the couch you see above was probably the best buy I've ever made for my home. Way back before I was even ready to get a new couch, I spotted it at an antique store, but decided it was too expensive. A year later, I was finally ready to replace my couch, and I couldn't get that one out of my head. I went back to the antique store, and by some miracle it was still there. It was meant to be. I spent more on that couch than I've ever spent on any other piece of furniture, but it totally transformed my whole living room, and I've never regretted it.

Classic pieces.
I can trace my obsession with midcentury furniture to a little book I bought at the Half Price Books in College Station, which had pictures of dozens of different modern design classics. As soon as I saw the Bertoia side chairs I knew I had to have them, and as soon I got a grownup job I used my first paycheck to buy a pair from eBay. They've gone through many iterations, they've been covered with pandas, but they'll be with me for a long time. Time-honored classic pieces like these will never go out of style, and unlike most furniture, they'll retain their value.

Practical things that are also fun.
A while ago I realized that all the knives I had were utter garbage, so I bought a set of Pure Komachi knives, which are really nice and also pretty and colorful. Now, every time I see them in the drawer, they make me smile.

And the worst.

Things that are super-specific to a particular place.
If you're at a point in your life where you know you'll be moving a lot, buying things that are super specific to a particular home just isn't smart. In my very first apartment, there was a pesky corner of the living room that needed, I decided, a hanging lamp. I became obsessed with finding just the right lamp to go in this corner. I spent months searching for it. And then, when I finally found something that I was satisfied with, I only had a few months left in that apartment, and I never wound up hanging it up, and then in the next place it just didn't work, because I had bought it not because I liked it that much, but because it was right for that one particular spot. That was a lesson learned.

Things I just had to have but couldn't use right away.
At one point Anthropologie had this really beautiful, colorful duvet cover, and I decided I just HAD to have it, not because it would work in my home, at the time, but because it would be perfect for my room at the convent where I anticipated staying right after moving to New York (don't ask). Long story short, the convent didn't work out, so now I have this twin-sized duvet cover, and no twin-sized bed. Maybe I'll make a wall hanging out of it.

Things I felt like I needed but didn't.
I have bought so many serving pieces, and pots and pans, thinking that I really needed to have them, because those are the sorts of things that grownups have. But many of them I've used never, or only once or twice. If I had been honest with myself about the fact that I never cook, I probably could've saved myself a lot of money. The takeaway: buy things you really love, and buy things for the life you have now.

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