6 Items You Should Never Part With, According to Designers

updated Mar 27, 2021
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We’ve all had that one piece of furniture or decorative accent that got away—and designers are no exception. But what about the items we know to be worth hanging on to for the long haul? Think staples that can stand the test of time, sentimental treasures, or even flea market finds you can’t bear to part with.

We got the lowdown on the decor pieces worth sticking with regardless of a remodel, cross-country move, or spring cleaning purge from our network of trusty decor experts. Here’s what you shouldn’t be parting with anytime soon.

Anything That Truly Speaks to You

There’s no need to discard an item you love just because you don’t feel like it matches your room’s aesthetic. “Any item can work given the right selections, colors, and textures surrounding it,” says designer Angela Todd. Sentimentality beats aesthetics any day of the week, and if you love something, it’s worth having in your life. “Forget about the trends or what everyone else has in their home and design around what makes your heart sing,” she adds.

This philosophy rings especially true for designer Tiffany Hanken, who believes the items you surround yourself with are there to tell your life story. She seamlessly integrated a vintage china set that she inherited from her great-grandmother into her space, using it daily and mixing and matching the pieces with new tableware for dinner parties. “It brings me so much happiness to think my great-grandmother used them during her life and that now I am as well,” she says.

And on that note, don’t toss aside hard copies of photographs, advises Ian Stallings. “Everything may be digital these days, but actual photos are worth keeping.” With tons of inspiring creative display solutions here on Apartment Therapy, on Pinterest, and Instagram, there’s really no excuse for getting rid of them or keeping photos hidden in an album or box.

Credit: Kate Pearce

Furniture with Classic Silhouettes

According to designer Elizabeth Stamos, certain pieces of furniture will never go out of style. Think wingback chairs, Chesterfield sofas, and tufted headboards, for starters.”If you buy something with good bones, you will never regret it,” she notes. “The key is to reupholster it in a fabric you love.”

The reupholstery process itself can be an investment, but you can save money on refurbishing things by scouring used furniture sites for pieces in need of a little love. Stamos recommends Craigslist and eBay for finding chairs, noting that when looking beyond the fabric, the shape of the item is what makes it a life-long keeper.

Bench Seating

Whether they’re wooden, metal, or upholstered, benches are so versatile that they’re never worth parting with, says designer Lauren Clement. “A bench can reinvent itself in so many different formats with paint or new fabric,” she says. You can pretty much use them everywhere, too—seating at a kitchen or dining room table, in a hall or entryway, at the foot of a bed, or in your kid’s play space. Benches truly are one of the few long-lasting players in a design book that you can continually breathe new life into.

Vintage Rugs

“Never ever, ever get rid of a vintage rug,” says Hailey Weidenbaum, owner of custom window treatment company, Everhem. Not only are vintage carpets expensive and difficult to source, but they’re perennially in style and always in demand, meaning you can always resell them should it come to that. If you have one that doesn’t quite fit in with your current space, roll it up and stash it away. You’ll never know when or where you’ll have the opportunity to use it. And with the popularity of layering rugs, don’t worry if you happen to have something with weird dimensions in your possession. You can always find a way to style it out with another floor covering, vintage or not. And if you’re looking for a place to score vintage rugs, check out Apartment Therapy’s Bazaar.

Limited Edition Pieces

That collector’s item you snagged for a steal? Don’t toss it. “Sometimes artists will create limited edition works—such as when Piet Mondrian did paper plates for the MoMA, and Jonas Wood crafted limited edition posters and scarves,” explains designer Sara Story. These are the items that could eventually increase in value, so don’t toss them out just yet, even if you’re a little tired of them.

Anything Handmade

Handmade items are extra special and worth holding onto over the years, says Brad Ford, organizer of Field + Supply, a bi-annual modern-maker craft fair. Whether it’s hand-sculpted pottery, jewelry, or a large piece of handcrafted furniture, these items are one-of-a-kind relics of a time and place and are best when treated as such.

Handcrafted items bring a level of soul to a room as well as an interesting narrative,” adds Ford. Plus, handmade things always make for a great conversation starter. When you take into account the time, patience, and skill it warrants to make something by hand, throwing it out would simply be a shame.