“Does anyone want this kind of furniture anymore?”
She gestured anxiously at a gorgeous sideboard in her dining room. Made by Councill Craftsman, her mahogany sideboard had been crafted with delicate corner inlays in a contrasting satinwood. The polished brass hardware had a rich sheen.
Yes, I assured her, there is a buyer out there who will treasure your sideboard.
Her question is a common one these days at FCG. Many of our consignors are downsizing and hoping to consign the high-quality furniture they bought for their spacious colonials. Now, they’re asking us in worried tones if there’s a market for well-crafted pieces of traditional furniture.
Their worry is understandable. Their children don’t want the furniture, other than perhaps one or two small pieces for sentimental value. Mom’s traditional sideboard wouldn’t fit in a tiny apartment in Back Bay or a modern condo in the Seaport. And all the shelter magazines are full of photos and buzz words celebrating furniture that is “transitional” and “contemporary.”
“My daughter says furniture isn’t important to her,” one woman said to me despairingly a couple of days ago. “She’d rather travel and go to concerts. She ordered a bureau from an online retailer – the drawer handles don’t even line up – but she says it’ll do for now.”
Don’t despair, folks. Millennials are taking a lot longer to marry and settle down, it’s true, but when they do, they will want and need the traditional furniture. Why am I confident? Three reasons: proper scale, architectural fit and economic value.
Consider scale. Many of New England’s homes were specifically designed to accommodate traditional furniture. Try furnishing a wainscoted dining room in a four-bedroom colonial with a sleek low sideboard from Italy’s Cassina, known for its modern wares. It would look ridiculous.
Regarding architectural fit, most of our suburban homes have a very traditional floor plan. Unless you have the financial resources to hire an architect to move walls and open up rooms, you’ll need traditional furniture.
And, lastly, there’s the issue of value. Millennials’ click-bought furniture won’t survive the move from the first apartment or condo to the new home they will want in a couple of years. That’s when they’ll realize the importance of craftsmanship and quality.
Trust me on this one. Quality always reigns supreme. Well-made traditional furniture will have appeal for years to come.