adventures in not buying particle board


After I bought my Egon Ostergaard desk last fall, I decided to try and change the way I bought stuff for my apartment. At $220, the desk was WAY more than I would usually spend on a piece of non-essential furniture (that’s more than a month of groceries!) and I was pretty freaked out about it for a few days, but after I spent an hour trying to convince my boyfriend that it was an “investment piece,” I realized that that was actually true. In most cases (especially fashion) I think the concept of “investment pieces” is pretty dumb–I mean, when has a Louis Vuitton wallet ever appreciated in value? Yeah, a $2000 leather bag is going to last longer than a $30 vinyl one from Forever 21, but that’s not what the word “investment” means. A $1200 Burberry coat is going to be a great fucking coat but it will never be worth more than $1200.

Vintage furniture is a totally different thing, though. After some poking around on FirstDibs and Etsy, I realized that if I ever needed to I could almost definitely sell the desk for at least what I paid for it. Thats not bad, considering Ikea furniture takes a 50% hit pretty much as soon as you take it out of the box. Also, have you seen the desks that places are selling for $200?

Seriously, this is what $200 gets you at Target and Wayfair. Generic nothing made out of “manufactured wood.” (Oh and also apparently manufactured wood is now being called “reclaimed wood” because the world is a terrible place.)

So anyway, I made the decision to stop buying new mid-priced furniture and (non-textile) house stuff as much as possible. ESPECIALLY stuff from places like Wayfair and Target and Overstock etc etc, where the biggest priority seems to be making something that will look cute in a product shot. Since even most “mid-priced” stuff isn’t exactly in my budget, let alone real actual high quality furniture , that means I’m basically only buying very cheap things (read: Ikea/Craigslist) and vintage.

This has been very difficult.

My trip to Target last week almost broke me, btw. Ugly desks aside, they are kind of killing it right now with home accessories. The new Spring collection is full of stuff I would have a heart attack over if I saw it anywhere else, but I just keep reminding myself that it only feels interesting because it’s new. Since it’s from Target and EVERYBDOY shops at Target, even this ultra ridic brass lamp that I want so very much is going to be in so many places by Fall  that I will probably be totally bored by it. (Although I’m still in love with this despite it’s ubiquity so honestly who the fuck knows, maybe I should just go deeply into debt and own every single lamp in the world.)

Not shopping/browsing at the  been an adjustment. All the vintage stores I live near price their things somewhere between “pretty expensive” and “choose between a single chair or a semester of college,” and the closest thrift stores all require at least one bus transfer. So I’ve been buying less stuff, which is awesome, but I’ve also been trying to find a desk lamp since October. Bleh.

I’m also going to start building more stuff. Like everyone who has ever had a DIY blog, I’m working on a Case Study planter knockoff, which is going…okay. For my next big project, I’m going to try to build a much more poorly constructed version of this, if for no other reason than I despise those super obnoxious emails West Elm sends out every time you visit their site (“STILL INTERESTED? THIS SUPER OVERPRICED CURTAIN ROD THAT YOU ACCIDENTALLY CLICKED ON IS STILL WAITING FOR YOU!”) and I refuse to give my money to a company with such intrusive email habits. Oh, and because who has $600 for a tv stand?

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  1. Have you ever shopped at a ReStore (related to Habitat for Humanity)? The one near me evidently is one of the busiest in the US – loads of old doors (some with antique hardware still attached!), commercial fixtures / building materials, granite countertops from remodeled houses (I keep imagining these converted to fake fireplaces) … For a DIYer like you, it might be a goldmine for raw materials. 🙂

    1. That’s so funny, one of my friends was just asking me about that place but she couldn’t remember the name, so she called it “the place with all the old doors.” I just googled and there’s one about five miles from me, so I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend!

  2. Hi, can you tell me if you’re rolltop teak desk has a label or stamp. The label on the one I picked up for free doesn’t match the labels I’m seeing on others online. I’m thinking it’s a knockoff which is fine just trying to get an idea of worth as I may sell it.

    Sorry for the late reply! Mine doesn’t have a stamp or tag–these usually don’t. As far as worth, solid attributions on these are pretty rare so being tagless doesn’t affect the price much. I’d probably sell it at $450 if I were going through Craigslist or similar, and I’d put retail around $750 depending on condition 🙂

    Just curious, what sorts of makers marks are you seeing? Actual Egon Ostergaard labels?