5 Ways to Extend the Life of Everything You Own
Who among us hasn’t sprung for that “fabulously inexpensive” coffee table or “such a good find!” floor lamp only to realize in mere months exactly why it was so cheap? Here are five tips for making sure your furniture and appliances live long lives and keep doing their jobs.
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First off, shop according to who you are
Think realistically about your life and the space you live in before swiping your credit card for something you love the look of. “For instance, a cream linen sofa made from high-quality, sustainable materials might last beautifully in one household, but a dark gray performance twill or leather material would better suit a young family,” says Kait Schulhof, founder of A Clean Bee, a blog dedicated to sustainable living. Do you have pets or kids? If so, those pastel pink velvet dining chairs that you’ve always dreamed of may not be the smartest purchase, unfortunately.
Be honest with yourself about quality
If you’re seeking a bedside table, go ahead and get the cute and cheap option. However, a mattress is a different kind of buy. “Whenever possible, invest in the highest quality version of any item you purchase and plan to use heavily,” says Schulhof.
Better-quality items tend to have longer shelf lives and come with better warranties. “Choosing to purchase items made from the highest quality materials that you can afford will have a direct impact on the anticipated lifespan of a given product,” says Schulhof. The splurge will also discourage you “from feeling like you need to ‘upgrade’ sooner than necessary,” she says.
Do your research
Create a list of all the expensive or heavily used items and appliances in your home—think dishwasher, HVAC system, and water filter, says Schulhof. Then, consult manuals or use Google to research how to properly maintain each one. For items that you can clean and maintain yourself, write out instructions or copy links to how-to articles that you can reference when it comes time to handle the job, says Schulhof. For work that needs to be outsourced, copy links to vendors who specialize in that type of service.
“Once you have a good sense of which home appliances require regular maintenance and how often they should be tended to, schedule these tasks in your calendar,” says Schulhof. To make sure that nothing slips through the cracks, set calendar reminders that repeat whenever you need to complete the task. You can even include maintenance instructions in your calendar invite to keep all of the pertinent information in one place. (Hooray, organization!)
Monitor your family’s usage
You can make just about anything you own last longer by treating it with care. This is particularly true for hardworking appliances, like the dishwasher and washing machine. The more you use an item, the faster its condition will deteriorate. To keep these bigger ticket items chugging along longer, operate them only when full, use energy-saving settings, and run them at night when temperatures are cooler, says Doug Rogers, president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company.
No matter how well you’ve tended to them, most of your possessions won’t last forever. Upholstery rips and paint chips. But with a little effort, certain items—a scratched dining table or a dilapidated dresser—can live a second life. And though it takes a little know-how, it’s generally cheaper to reupholster or add a fresh coat of paint than it is to buy something brand-new.