It's always tempting to rush to the nearest big box store or to scour the hottest quick ship deals online when shopping for furniture, but there's something to be said about homes that are furnished over time with pieces that have the capacity to outlive their owners. Take notes from the French, who are known to pass on family heirlooms from one generation to the next and rarely make furniture purchases on a whim. Instead, they slowly decorate over time with a mix of antiques, vintage pieces, and newer items that are known to stand the test of time.
So how do you know what kind of items are worth investing in, and how do you know if a piece of furniture will last you decades, centuries, or merely a few months? One could argue that it all lies in the construction of the piece, from the wood that is used to the glue that binds it together and the layers that create the soft seating. It can have something to do with how the materials age, from the patina of solid brass or the quality of the leather. It can relate to the shape of the piece and how likely it is to stand the test of time aesthetically.
The following pieces have proven to have outlasted many decades already—and in many cases, they have become heirlooms in hundreds of houses. Add these vintage home items to your décor, and you can be sure that, just like the red lip in Taylor Swift's song, they will never go out of style.
Turn to the classic designs of the modern era to find pieces that have already proven their longevity. Especially in lounge chairs, pieces like the Eames lounge chair or the Bertoia chair have proven that they've already lasted over half a century—chances are they will remain timeless for decades to come.
A top-quality handwoven rug can last a lifetime and even get better with age. Shop vintage rugs that have already stood the test of time to find a piece that's hardwearing and low maintenance.
A well-built sofa can last decades—especially if reupholstered every so often. If you want it to last even longer, pick a quality leather that will age with a beautiful worn patina. What's important is to pick a sofa with the right frame and filling so that it keeps its shape and timeless air for years to come.
Mirrors tend to age well. The patina of a gilded or silver frame only gets better with age, while the mirror itself can take on a patina of its own—with age spots and an antiqued coloration that many retailers are now trying to replicate.
Classic commodes and chests of drawers are historic pieces that can outlast generations. The proof: This Louis XVI–style dresser dates from the 1900s and still stands today. Look for items with beautiful lines and quality wood or a striking marble top.
There's a reason design aficionados still prevalently use midcentury lighting in their designs today—these pieces are not only aesthetically timeless, but they were built to last. Whether you buy a vintage version or a reissued classic, you can bet that these pieces will last you many years.
When shopping for a dining table that will last, consider two things: first, the type of wood. Solid woods like oak and teak will last longer than veneers or simple woods like pine. Secondly, reclaimed tables will age with a better patina because they are already imperfect. Thus, them showing the marks of time will only enhance their look as they age.
There's a reason crystal chandeliers retain their value so well: They can last for centuries. High-quality chandeliers can be expensive, but they're the type of pieces that can be passed on for generations.