Thursday, March 20, 2008

What are the things you bought that you've never regretted?


We all buy mistakes and they are so easy to dwell on. When I moved into my house, with it's lovely bones and its shit interiors, we made mistakes we are still living with (like putting lame carpet in upstairs...).

But I was thinking today about homes and why it all matters. Actually, I was thinking, "What an interesting day... a blog I started as a lark is getting a lot of traffic now."

And then I was also thinking, "My fiance must think this is all really stupid. I mean - who the hell wastes time writing about decor?"

And then I was thinking about Deborah Needleman and the Domino dustup. And what I settled on was this: we love the same thing. We love the idea that home and identity (for a certain class) is tied together. That it really does matter, for better or worse. It's some kind of expression. And when we get it right, it's happiness.

My favorite room is a jumble of wreckage and castoffs. I like this room most, I realized today, because it never mattered. it's a personal room; it's not meant for guests to hang out in. In it I have a fake-Saarinen low-table I found for $75 at a flea market. A $25 chippy dresser that I prop a mirror on and use every morning as I put on my war paint (lipgloss and mascara) to face the day. A $20 aluminum garden chair that serves as a dumping ground for dirty clothes and piles of magazines I plan to get through. A funny teal French bergere that I bought from a nice artist off Craigslist that I hope to recover, but know will sit untouched for 6 months before I have the time to fix it.

These are things I don't regret buying. I could spend my time worrying about decorating mistakes, but I grow more sure and stubborn about the things I like every year. I like the cheap stuff the most. The vintage paintings, the wobbly wooden table we use to prop up flowers in the lonely staircase landing; I love the photography, like the one up top (by Chad States) because it's the kind of thing that keeps a Tudor from feeling like and uptight BBC devotee. Despite all the things we need to fix here, there is good stuff. Stuff that makes it feel like home. Good things we scored that we will just never part with.

What are the things you don't regret buying? Do you have an impulse or a splurge-y thing you acquired that has stood by you and made you happy ever since? I want to hear about it.

24 comments:

visualvamp.blogspot.com/ said...

What might be the more telling question for me is: What are the things I bought that I regret? Or How I started Selling On eBay LOL!
What I will never regret: A huge dining room table to seat 20 people. It was very expensive (for me) from Bloomingdales. Also 8 antique Isabelina Salon chairs; a vintage 9' long Baker credenza; ghost chair; little lucite table; Eames lounge chair; cow hide rug (it never shows dirt or pet hair!); 18thc Directoire bed that we use as a headboard; crazy upols antique French settee; my iBook; Carlo of Hollywood painting; our dog, a cav - any pet adds love & life to a room!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Don't stone me, but my life's top nonregretted consumer splurge was a pair of crocodile shoes. Oh, God, they were expensive—it's been 10 years since I bought them (on sale), and I still feel the pain in my wallet. And I love them, love them, love them. Very dark lace-ups, very conservative looking, captoe Oxfords, but not once you realize the material. On the collecting/decorating side of things, my nongrettables include: flame-colored silk curtains for my living room; a 1940s Chambers kitchen stove I bought on eBay and had shipped across the country at impressive expense; and a tall 1860s cast-iron wood stove in the shape of a fluted Ionic column, which cost next to nothing but which cost several body parts to have shipped from somewhere in Germany. I'm sure there will be more nonregrettables in the future, but for the foreseeable future, I'm only haunting flea markets and junk stores. Easier on the wallet.

Richie Designs said...

sadly, most of my great purchases that I haven't regretted have been clothes.

I do have a lovely heywood wakefield dresser that I scored off of CL for cheap. My refurbished bed frame that I paid top dollar for [again heywood] is a bummer.

I need to invest in my house but it's hard when you rent...what if it doesn't work in your next place?

jamie meares said...

hmm, let's think.

i still love the lucite chairs i got for our kitchen table at target. they were cheapcheap.

i also love most all jeans i buy.

and i love our house on most days. we bought that.

i'm going to love my iphone, i just know it.

and i'm sure i'd love a dog. but i'm not allowed.

Jean said...

Trips to India and Italy...which means the furniture is garbage, because we had to choose. But a few things: three Iranian/tribal rugs. Wool soft-terra-cotta curtains. Four-drawer file cabinet. Pic books for example, on Paolo Soleri and Axel Vandervoort. An IKEA wood countertop on the nonsink counter in our kitchen.

Visvamp: if my DR fit that many people I'd buy a huge table, too, with no regrets!

Brilliant Asylum said...

I have never regretted upholstering anything in plain, natural linen. It holds up to all the trends.

I have regretted everything I have ever purchased at West Elm. It either breaks or starts looking cheap as soon as you get it home. I will probably continue to shop there for seasonal accessories though. It is the fast food to my design trend appetite--momentarily satisfying, but bad for you in the long run.

lauren said...

I'll never regret buyign my house or having the exterior repainted. Every time I see it, it makes me smile.

I also love the reproduction Rothko that I bought for over the fireplace and the new knobs that I bought for my tv cabinet. Oh, and a pair of black and white damask drapes for the window in the upstairs hall. Love those. Little things, all impulses, that make me happy.

visualvamp.blogspot.com/ said...

About that big table - when I first got it I lived in a small one BR floor through brownstone in NYC. Unopened the table sat 8-ish and just squeezed into a middle room I used as a DR. When i had a huge sit down dinner party, I would open up the thing, and it would stretch through to the living room, through a wide arch doorway. It was crowded but so fun. Recently I had a huge apartment for 3 years with a huge dining room. Closed, the table almost looked small! Now we live in a broken down house, with no room for that table. I use a 60" round catering table (skirted of course) tucked into a corner in a room that doubles as my ofice and DR. It can squish 10 when we throw a dinner party, and we fill the room. The big table is in the kitchen against the wall with a long buffet cabinet on top, so it's used for a counter and for display. I just can't part with it. At this stage I don't know if we'll ever have the room for it, but still a girl can dream...

Anonymous said...

A "file cabinet"? Does anyone REGRET buying a file cabinet?

My Notting Hill said...

Vintage Knoll vinyl office ottomans with chrome legs. Also, on a larger scale, having a pool put in (which seemed like a guilty pleasure at the time.) Living in DC with the oppressive summer humidity I can say its the best money we ever spent.

my little apartment said...

i just responded to this on my blog actually, i just had too much to say to make it a simple comment :)

but one thing that i don't think i'll ever get rid of is an old radiator cover that i bought at a flea mall in winchester, ky for $12. it looks kinda rad with chipped paint right now, but someday i'll powdercoat it...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodnightdean/2116745047/in/set-72157603231178043/

24KGLDFCE said...

These are the rooms I find the most interesting; they're the most expressive, the most personal, and therefore the most narrative. They go beyond aping a favorite decorator or a print featured in an Elle Decor spread, and in layering become about considerably more than "good taste". You should post photos! Or send them to me; I've been trying to post rooms like this.

Style Court said...

This is one of your all time great questions! I love it.

The post is so eloquent too. But back to the question -- probably chairs with great lines that never go out of style but can be reupholstered; mirrors and well, I could go on and on...

maison21 said...

my emerald green silk 1930's (or 60's) french-y french sofa, purchased in florida for 50 bucks and shipped home to l.a. for many times that. worth every penny 10 times over. LOVE that sofa.

the original upholstery is barely hanging on (the dog and the cat have had their ways with it) but i really hope lasts a while longer- for sentimental reasons if nothing else. the lines of the sofa are the best i've ever seen of it's kind, so when the emerald green does finally give up it's will to survive, i know whatever i recover it in will look smashing.

i wish we could post pictures with our the comments, so you all could love my sofa as much as i do. that thing is my 3rd child, after the dog and the cat, i swear.

Anonymous said...

This is just cruel! To read so many descriptions of wholly-loved items and not see any photos: pure torture.

Anonymous said...

An old, mildly dinged-up Paul McCobb slipper chair with the original soft-green velvet upholstery. It can beat up any other slipper chair out there.

Christine said...

None of mine are particular high-end items: A white, vinyl-covered 1940s chair and a white vinyl-covered ottoman from a vintage shop that I bought while on a business trip. I had to stuff them in my rental car. Fortunately, I wasn't flying!

A brass and glass, rams head round coffee table, also from a vintage shop.

My new bedroom rug.

My salvation army store nightstand that I refinished.

A freebee from the street--an ikea rolling set of pine drawers that I use for my office supplies. Can't beat the price! :)

Anonymous said...

Four cans of aged bronze spray paint to spray my gaudy gold light fixtures in our home. What a transformation!

pve design said...

1. cotton, white sheets
2. white tile for our bathroom renovations, white towels.
3. outside, stone walls - a major project but we love it in the summer.
4. our home.
5. If I could buy my 3 children, I'd buy them again.
no regrets here- life is too short.

Anonymous said...

Most of my mistakes have been due to eBay. You just can't tell how something will *feel* in your house from a photograph.

Still, I keep getting sucked in...

Anonymous said...

I'm another one with more regrets than don't regrets (and the previous poster is SOO right about Ebay, although I did just get a huge rug -- used persian -- for $170 that's worked out great.) Things I don't regret are usually things that I saw and just fell in love with and had to have, no matter the price, like a life-size papier mache donkey's head from France, to hang on the wall, with the papier mache showing newspaper ads for rock concerts, etc. Sounds gross, I know, but I adore it. Makes me happy.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I, while on a quick trip to Paris, bought a pair of small brass lamps with silk shades at a local flee market for $100 (earlier as I drooled over everything I had wished for them-very odd)

of course i realized when we got to the hotel that they needed rewiring! Back in NY, the person who did the wiring informed me that they were antique bronze candlesticks and were worth about $600 a piece!

they are our prized possession.....one of our favorite moments!

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I, while on a quick trip to Paris, bought a pair of small brass lamps with silk shades at a local flee market for $100 (earlier as I drooled over everything I had wished for them-very odd)

of course i realized when we got to the hotel that they needed rewiring! Back in NY, the person who did the wiring informed me that they were antique bronze candlesticks and were worth about $600 a piece!

they are our prized possession.....one of our favorite moments!

Anonymous said...

Forgive the slight detour:

Some of the best things in the world are the dvds of Dick Cavett's interviews in the 1970s (available on netflix)--especially where he interviews Kate Hepburn.

Among the many things they talk about is this very question, and Hepburn says to Cavett: always buy an antique that you want. It's never there when you go back, and you always regret losing it.

After hearing this, I decided to see if I agree, and, despite my small budget, whenever I've seen an antique and had the money, I bought it on the spot. Hepburn's right: I *love* the mere sight of these things in my house--especially a Biedermeier armoire that's the most expensive thing I've ever bought for my house.

Everything from a Bertoia chair to a paper bag looks better next to it, and it store *lots* of stuff.