4 Designers Share the First Big Piece of
Furniture They Splurged On
DISCOVER WHICH FURNITURE PIECES ARE WORTH THE SPLURGE
By Heather Bien
Ask any designer how they spent their childhood, and they’ll probably tell you how they’d spend their summer afternoons hiding out in their room with a dogeared issue of House Beautiful picked up at the drugstore or a copy of Better Homes and Gardens swiped from their mom’s collection. While other kids were saving their summer job pennies for the latest pair of sneakers, the future designers were dreaming about the apartment they’d decorate someday and begging someone for a ride to the local antique shop.
But once they got out into the real world, how’d they decide where to start bringing their design vision to life? When did they transition from Ikea and thrift finds (which both have their place in a well-designed space!) to splurging on the finds they’d imagined would fill their grown-up home?
Four designers and design enthusiasts shared their first big furniture splurge with us—and explained why these pieces will always hold a special place in their memory of home.
A Bold Set of Green Vintage Folding Chairs
“My favorite initial purchase was a set of green vintage folding chairs by Aldo Jacober,” says Brendan Mahoney of Prime Projects, a design firm based in New York and Miami. “The design for these chairs is genius! A perfect harmony between form and function. With their marine green finish, I simply could not pass them up,” Mahoney adds, proving that your first splurge doesn’t need to fall into a stereotypical timeless or classic bucket. Instead, go with your gut and what you love. Does Green catch your eye? Amazing. Can’t get enough of the quirky silhouette of a folding chair? Do it! Not only does your taste defy trends, but that piece will always remind you of that first big purchase.
A Custom Velvet Sofa Made to Withstand Heavy Traffic
Alida Coury of Alida Coury Interiors recalls her first big splurge, a custom velvet sectional from Crate and Barrel that has style above and beyond any standard sofa. “At the time, they let clients use customer's own material (COM), so I was able to send over a really nice bolt of velvet with texture,” says Coury. Sure, she could have done a sectional in a nice, neutral performance fabric—but going bold and rich in texture gave the piece a personal touch that made its price tag worth it.
Looking back, this splurge was a wise investment, both because of its practicality—a sofa is a piece you’ll have and use every day—and because it was customized to Coury’s preferences. “I still have the velvet sectional to this day,” says Coury. “It was worth spending more for something that gets heavy traffic, so it lasts longer.”
“It was worth spending more for something that gets heavy traffic, so it lasts longer.”
A Sophisticated Recliner that Marries Function and Sophistication
Recliners can easily go so wrong. So when Anthony Rodriguez of 136 Home decided his first big furniture splurge was going to be a recliner, he knew he had to get it right. In his words, “It couldn’t be your dad’s overstuffed lazy boy.”
He looked high and low, trying to find a piece that would straddle modern design with ultimate comfort, and landed on a streamlined recliner that, at first glance, doesn’t even give away its reclining identity. “The muddy green and walnut finish adds a level of sophistication that met the demands of my better half while incorporating into my design perfectly,” explains Rodriguez.
By marrying a high-quality, well-made piece he knew he’d use frequently with a modern palette, a refined wood finish, and an updated take on a functional silhouette, Rodriguez chose exactly the right item to splurge on. And it’s one any dad would be lucky to trade a lazy boy for.
Boucle Chairs Inspired by Iconic Designers
“The living room of our pre-war Brooklyn apartment is where we both watch television and host dinner parties so it needs to be functional, comfortable, and beautiful,” explains Dora Leigh Maddux of the Instagram account A Brooklyn Home. And that need to create something both cozy and stylish inspired her first big furniture splurge.
“My husband agreed to splurge on the Industry West Compass chairs in boucle,” says Maddux, who brought the Scandinavian-inspired chairs, with their compass-like shape, into her space as a nod to the early 20th-century design greats. Maddux explains, “I was able to convince my husband to get on board once he saw how the iconic design has been featured in some of the most timeless rooms.”
Buying furniture inspired by design that dates back decades is a foolproof way to invest in a statement piece you’ll have for decades. Maddux says, “The Compass chairs are still our favorite piece and what our guests immediately gravitate to in the house.”