Appreciating Value: a discussion of quality

A large part of what we do here at Huston & Company is to educate our clients and potential clients to the differences in furniture construction methods and materials in the marketplace. Some of our clients come to us very knowledgeable in this arena, but many are frustrated with furniture pieces they own that are not giving them the years they’d hoped. They come to us because “custom” and “handcrafted” have meaning for them: longevity and therefore better value.

In this throw-away society, our younger and new clients struggle with the prices of mass produced furniture pieces – most often in the same range as our custom, handcrafted pieces. How can the prices be the same when the mass-produced piece will only last a few years, and the handcrafted piece will last for generations? They see their parents (and grandparents) still using the furniture they grew up with, decades later, and yet the pieces they have in their own new homes are losing stamina after just a few years. They are very serious about longevity, value and the environment. For many of them, it is worth the effort of saving for a long-term purchase.

Is our furniture going to gain value as it ages? In our 26th year, we’ve already seen some of our pieces re-sold for various reasons. No, it doesn’t sell for more than its original price. But it does fetch anywhere from 50%-70% of the original price, usually, seemingly regardless of age. More importantly to us, it’s as lovely, durable and timeless for the second owner as it was for the first; and we think that says a lot. If a piece of furniture can truly be handed down from generation to generation without a degradation of its usefulness or aesthetic, we know we’ve done our job well.

We have been around long enough now that we are seeing our furniture move from generation to generation. “Our daughter is getting married and we’ve decided to give her the dining table that you made for us, as a gift. Could we have it refinished so it looks brand new for her?” We are building furniture for the children of our early clients. “I love the kitchen table you built for my parents many years ago. Could you build one for me in a different size?” And our library and academic furniture is no different. “We have some reading tables that were built when the library was first built some 90 years ago, and they are still in great shape. Could you build us some tables that will complement those and last as long?”

There are several things to consider when purchasing furniture, be it new or used. In my next few posts I’ll discuss some of the qualities of furniture that you should look at when making a purchase: joinery, veneer vs solid, finishes, environmental footprints, etc. If you have specific questions, or things you’d like us to discuss, please comment.