A few weeks ago, when we shared our son’s new “big boy room” not only were we feeling sentimental about no longer having a crib in our house, we noticed that we had some sentimental feelings for the daybed that we brought into his room. I know. Life is weird. But we realized it has been with us for over a decade – seeing us through a wedding, two births, two moves, and more than a few “style adjustments.”
Ten years may not seem like a lot in furniture years, but we’ve only been homeowners for around 11.5 years, and much of what we collected when we moved into our first house at the ripe old age of 24 were budget-friendly-but-probably-not-long-term solutions. For example: an inexpensive placeholder item that was all we could afford at the time, something that was loaned to us for a little while and later returned, or something cheap that nodidn’t hold up as time went on (we moved from NYC to Richmond in a minivan, so we didn’t exactly have a lot of furniture when we landed here in 2006).
So we thought it’d be a fun exercise to highlight 10 items that we’ve had for 10 years (or more). Not just for nostalgia’s sake, but also as a window into what things have physically held up that long and what items we’d even venture to describe as “house classics,” since they’ve made it through so many rearrangements, moves, and style twists and turns between our mid-twenties and our mid-thirties. So for anyone who has asked us what we’d recommend buying that will hopefully be something you’ll have/love/use for the long haul (even through different decorating phases, life stages, and homes), well, these would be it:
1. White Daybed
Let’s start with the “big boy bed” itself. This daybed was actually a wedding present from my godmother back in 2007. It’s from West Elm and the version they sell now is very similar, with just a slightly different pattern.
It lived happily in our first home’s sunroom as an outdoor lounge area for us for about four years. Sherry and I spent many a pre-parenthood weekend reading books and magazines on it – and once we had our daughter, we used it as a makeshift “photo studio” for our weekly baby photos. It didn’t get much use in our second house but definitely blasted back onto the scene when we moved to our third house and it served as a big girl bed for years (until our daughter was around six and we upgraded her to a full sized bed). And you know the rest: now it’s in our son’s room and he sleeps on it every night. It has held up really well. Nothing but good things to say about it.
2. Parsons Desk
This parsons desk was, coincidentally, also a wedding present back in 2007, and also from West Elm. Although unlike the daybed, West Elm still sells this exact same desk (which is definitely indicative of how classic it is). After working for months on the floor of our first apartment and later at a hand-me-down table in our first house, this was Sherry’s first real desk in our first home office (read: corner of the living room). Movin’ on up!
The funny thing about that is now – after a short stint as a barely-used accent table in our second home – it’s MY desk. I’m actually sitting at it right now as I type this post #blogception. While functionally it has held up great, the glossy lacquered surface has weathered a few small blows. It has maybe three or four small chips and scratches where heavy things have been dropped over the years, but nothing too major. For being 11 years old I’d even venture to describe it as looking ridiculously good for its age.
3. Leaning Mirror
I’m beginning to think I should’ve entitled this post “Wedding Presents That Came From West Elm,” but I promise this is the last one (probably because Richmond’s West Elm location closed shortly after we were married). But this present was actually from me to Sherry on 7/7/07 when I surprised her with it on our wedding day (so she could get ready in it since we got married in the backyard and we didn’t have a single full sized mirror in our entire house until that day).
It was a bit of an adventure getting it home and in place without her knowing, so it’s got plenty of memories attached to it. It has served as our bedroom mirror ever since, and at times we’ve debated replacing it with something less heavy looking (the ones West Elm sells now are little less chunky) or even just painting it a lighter color, but so far it has remained as-is for nearly 11 years.
4. Concrete Greyhound
This next one is another gift from me to Sherry (for Valentine’s Day of 2008, so today is literally its 10-year anniversary). I’m not saying I deserve a pat on the back from my gift giving, but, well…*pat pat*. This was a concrete lawn ornament I picked up at a local greenhouse that I think is technically a whippet, but we’ve always called it “the greyhound.” He has resided all sorts of places across all three houses, even gets decorated for Christmas, and by some miracle has never broken or cracked along the way.
It’s VERY heavy and we basically have to carry it by the neck, so one of these days I swear its head is gonna pop right off and the rest of it is going to smash our feet… but so far, no whammies. And speaking of smashing, we should point out that this is NOT the ceramic dog that famously met its demise in our second house. Fortunately, this one is strong enough to withstand the impact of a small picture frame (R.I.P. ceramic dog).
5. Metal Coffee Table
Interestingly, this is the only thrifted item on the list. That’s not to say that secondhand items don’t stand the test of time extremely well (they do, almost by definition!) but I think it’s proof that it took us a little while to figure out what to look for at thrift stores. For example, it took us a few years to learn that a secondhand midcentury dresser with 6 or even 9 drawers can be an awesome purchase, and now we have one in our daughter’s room, one as our TV stand in the living room, and one in the bonus room as well. Sometimes it takes you a few years to get your “used furniture” mojo.
But back to this table – which originally came with a glass top and a glass shelf on its metal base (it’s pretty close to this one that Pottery Barn currently sells). It has lived many lives. It was the coffee table in our first house’s living room, but since it was too small for our sectional in the second house we tried it outside instead. The glass was hard to keep clean outside (think: constantly smudged with pollen or random tree seeds and leaves), so a few years ago we swapped out the glass for a DIY wood top, and it still lives out on our back porch to this day. Like a champ.
6. Leather Chair
This is probably another prime example of why something in a classic shape and a timeless material can be a good investment. Well, and this puppy wasn’t really even that much of an investment to start with. This chair is from Target in February of 2008 and it was $230 (it was actually a gift from Sherry to me) and it has anchored everything from the corner of our first bedroom, the office in our second home, to now living it up in our current living room. Well, except around Christmastime when the tree goes in that spot and it gets to take a little winter vacation to the corner of the office.
They actually sell an extremely similar one (with an extremely similar price tag right now). With its nice affordable price tag, it’s certainly not made from the finest leather out there – so over the last year or so, the front cushion has started to crack and peel in a few small areas. Sherry touched it up with a dark brown Sharpie in those spots, which didn’t seem like a good idea but it’s a lot less noticeable. It’s probably not going to last us another ten years, but it has certainly been a great piece of furniture for us – through a lot of rooms, moves, and style changes. Sherry is somewhat excited about the idea of getting something a bit less dark and heavy to replace it with when it finally does bite the dust, and we’d be lucky to find something that lives so dutifully for over ten years with such a reasonable price tag.
7. Large Glass Vases
There are probably dozens of glassware items that we’ve kept around for the last 10 years, but I’ll give a shout out to these large “wonky” glass vases that stand out a bit more because of their size. We actually have two of them – the taller one shown above in our foyer, and a squatter one which currently resides in our dining room:
They’ve been sold everywhere from HomeGoods to ZGallerie, and World Market actually still sells the exact same ones. We’ve found them to be pretty versatile and useful because they’re large but not too visually heavy.
You can see that Sherry has mostly used them to add height to a tabletop, but they also work on floors too – like in our first bedroom. Speaking of which, that wall of stuff in the 2009 photo above (as random-looking as it is!) coincidentally housed a lot of these long-haul items: the chair, the mirror, the vase, and even another thing we’ll get to in a moment. Spoiler: it’s not the $50 Home Depot floor lamp. The base of that broke just a couple of months ago. So close!
8. Ceramic Horns
This is kind of a weird one, but you see those two white spiral-y looking things in those top shelves above? They’re long ceramic horns (maybe antelope? gazelle?) that were brought to our first house when it was shot for The Nest magazine back in 2008 (you can even see them on the cover!). We think they came from Crate & Barrel and the stylist brought them to make sense of our super long fireplace mantle. She didn’t want to return them or try to ship them back to NYC, so it was the start of a very deep and meaningful relationship of using them to make sense of weirdly long spaces that every single one of our houses ended up having.
The interesting thing about these is that we’re often so focused on items that create height or make a room seem taller (#8ftceilingproblems) that Sherry and I don’t give enough credit to those rare items that create length or can fill a random-ly wide space that might pop up around the house. So if you have a long empty shelf or built-in to fill, I’m not specifically saying “get thee a ceramic gazelle horn!” – but looking for something that’s not too crazy colorful and on the wide side might be helpful. Be it a long woven basket or… I dunno… a ceramic alligator…?
9. Ikea Planters
This one might seem a little strange to shout out, but we are so glad we’ve hung onto these large white Ikea planters. They don’t sell the large versions anymore (this one from Wayfair is similar) but they still have some smaller white ones, which we also love (there are at least seven of them around our house that we’ve had for over 10 years). Obviously we haven’t kept any single plant alive for a decade (please, we’re lucky if we get 3-4 years), but that’s part of the beauty of the simple white planters: they look good with just about any plant (even the faker above!) in just about any room.
I struggled to dig up photos of them in our last houses (aside from that 2009 master bedroom shot you’ve now seen 3 times) – perhaps because if something was half dead that planter didn’t make it into the picture. Ha! But houseplants have definitely become “trendier” more recently, and faux plants have gotten a lot better too – in fact we just ordered this well rated faux fig for the beach house. So having a versitle planter to plop them in has made it a lot easier. As a side note, we like having them on wheels (here’s the rolling planter base pictured in our current bedroom).
10. Glass Kitchen Containers
When we finished our first kitchen remodel around this time in 2008, some of the first items we bought were two sets of glass containers: a pair of identical glass canisters for cereal storage on the counter, and a trio of glass containers with three staggered heights (seen above). This five-some of glass storage vessels has graced every counter we’ve owned since. The “cereal twins” still help wrangle whatever cereal the kids and I are currently feelin’ (right now: Honey Nut Chex) and one even occasionally moonlights as a popcorn containment device, just to keep things interesting. Meanwhile the triplets have always housed sugar, flour, and rice. And since we’re not bakers, I’d venture to guess that the sugar and flour might be around four years old (it’s no 10-year anniversary, but pretty disturbing to really think too hard about).
The cereal jars were from Target or Michaels or maybe even the now defunct Linens N’ Things (that’s where we registered for our wedding) and the other three were from… don’t hate me for this… West Elm. And they were a wedding gift at that. I know I promised we were done with those, but apparently it’s the theme that just won’t die. They don’t sell them anymore (they have similar versions with a black top now) and to tell you the truth, it feels kinda nice to end with these. Full circle moment, folks.
This list isn’t totally comprehensive obviously – since there are plenty of other home items we’ve easily had for a decade (big hardcover books, various baskets, cloth and leather photo albums, etc). I think I even spotted our current toaster in a picture of our first kitchen. So those are a few more things that I’d say you could have for a nice long time with a fair amount of confidence.
P.S. If you’re staring at any of the large photos above and wondering about wall colors or where we got other things in the pictures, here’s our Shop Our House page with that info for you.
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