How To Choose Furniture Now that Someone Will Want to Inherit Later

How To Choose Furniture Now that Someone Will Want to Inherit Later

Alison Gerber
Jun 11, 2013

A friend of mine recently inherited some money that she is considering spending on furnishing her home. However, she wants to make an investment that will last, hopefully even beyond her lifetime. But can you really choose furniture now your kids will want to inherit in 30, 40, 50 years? And how?

The truth is, we can't know for sure what will last that long or what our kids will need or want so far in the future. However: we can still make wise decisions about purchases that will greatly improve the chances that whatever furniture we buy will last and will be passed down from mother and father, to daughter and son. Here's how:

1. Invest in good quality
There are good deals out there, sure, but for the most part there is a reason why expensive furniture is expensive, and cheap furniture is cheap. Look for pieces made of solid wood, that feel solid and heavy. Consider buying something made by a single, reputable craftsman. Think "protein" furniture instead of quick and easy "carb" furniture. Here is some more help for choosing good quality wooden furniture.

2. Think of pieces that are useful, and if possible, small 
No one wants to inherit that wall unit that displayed Grandma's 1000 piece porcelain cup collection. Where do you put something like that? However, my parents have this little solid wood cabinet with a stain-glass front that sits beside their piano. It's useful (for storage) and small, and would fit in my tiny apartment. I agree with this post on furniture that survives the test of time: chairs, mirrors and benches are all great options.

3. Go for a design classic...that you love
Rather than choosing whatever's hip in the latest catalog that has come through the mail, buy a piece of furniture with a look that has stood the test of time. 

However, you should remember: this is your piece of furniture, your investment, for your family, so don't just choose something because it is a "classic", you should also love it, and it should fit your own personal sense of style. Under the heading of "design classics" there is so, so much to choose from: if you're not into mid-century modern, maybe you could check out Shaker furniture or Thonet bentwood chairs?

4. Make this piece a part of daily family life 

Everything I have ever wanted to inherit, from my grandparents or parents, has been because I have a memory attached to that object. If you want something to be passed through the family: use it! Sit in chairs, take photos there. Store special keepsakes from family holidays in that cabinet. Sit together on that beautiful piano bench and play a duet.

5. Take good care of the furniture you yourself have inherited 
There is nothing more beautiful than an antique piece in a home that has been kept in the family for generations. If you have inherited a piece of furniture, that you would like to pass on to your children, pour yourself a coffee and do a little research on how to take care of it. Do you know what kind of wood it is? Do you know how to clean it? Is it in need of repair? Perhaps these posts on preserving the finish and value of antique furniture, 30 ways to restore and repair furniture,  and how to care for teak furniture might be a good place to start!

(Image: Adrienne Breaux / Lindsay Nakashima's Focus on Family)

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