In an era where instant gratification is in high demand, fast furniture, like fast food, has become the norm. A few clicks online, and you have brand new furniture delivered to your door in a matter of days. But also like most fast food, it’s probably not good for you. It’s probably not made of real wood, likely requires assembly, and in less than a year, many of the pieces may need replacement.
Slow furniture is different. It’s the kind of solid furniture your mom or grandma had, that dining room table you ate dinner on, that sofa that felt like a hug and is still there for your kids, and that bedroom set handed down through generations of your family.
There’s no argument that slow furniture typically costs more, but it’s an investment that will last a lifetime, and something that will reflect the whole of your values. Consider these benefits before organizing your Allen wrenches and ordering furniture in a flat box.
Take Your Time
You don’t really need a home full of new furniture tomorrow, do you? Gather a few hand-me-downs from family and friends while you shop for something with character that will probably last longer than you do. It’s like building a wardrobe or stocking a pantry: one item at a time. And be picky! Look at all the styles that have come and gone over the past few decades and find a few that tickle your fancy. Remember that mixing and matching styles from different eras is chic.
Consider the Value
A $60 coffee table designed and mass-produced in Sweden will lose at least half its value in six months or less, which is about the same amount of time it’ll take you to get sick of its angles and boring color. On the other hand, if you buy a vintage table made from real wood for $120, it will only ever increase in value as long as you take care of it. Better yet, you won’t see the same table in all your friends’ homes.
It’s Not Used, It’s Vintage
Just like pictures, every piece of pre-owned furniture tells a story. If the previous owner of your slow furniture piece doesn’t have one, make one up based on its condition, dents and nicks, label, and where it came from (i.e., an estate sale, a second-hand store, your uncle, etc). Nothing beats furniture with character.
Choose Multi-Use Pieces
A chest of drawers can be used in any room, not just a bedroom. It can be added cabinet space in a kitchen, a storage unit with a top shelf to display pictures and knickknacks in the living room, or a place to stow fresh linens and personal grooming products in the bathroom. Best of all, it can fulfill all those needs at different points in your life.
Shop Local, Artisan, and Fair Trade
If you choose to buy a new piece of slow furniture, you should at least make sure you’re supporting your local woodworkers and boosting your neighborhood economy. Be sure to check the sustainability of the wood, too, so you’re not accidentally devastating a forest somewhere on the other side of the globe.
Finally, Be Careful
While wood furniture is usually a safe bet, beware of upholstered furniture that may be infested with bedbugs or other pests. Even if you plan to reupholster it, you still need to know what’s lurking under the stuffing or padding.