What happens when we are gone?

Willemjm

Willem
Corporate Member
None of the furniture in my home was purchased. About 1/2 built by me, the rest my father, grandfather, great grandfather and some pieces even further back.

The kids these days live in the IKEA age, smaller houses and no place for all these pieces. Furniture is built in Asia, from plantation wood, stained to hide the color. The value of these artisan pieces built by us are not really appreciated by today’s millennial generation.

So where do these pieces go and what happens to them after we are gone?
 

smallboat

smallboat
Corporate Member
Fear not. I suspect there are at least as many among the newer generations who appreciate value and craftsmanship as there are among our generation who practice it.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
The Renaissance of people buying quality , wanting quality definitely has begun. I get a lot of requests for handmade furniture, mostly from people in thier 30's and 40's.

Most get the IKEA stuff young starting out but then, realize quickly it is one time use stuff. It does not lend itself to moving... at all. Unless (of course) you are a wood worker and you rebuild, glue, pin nail, gusset n cleat into longevity ...well then it is really no longer IKEA is it ?- :D

Anyway, what I have found with my kid and nephews, nieces and family ..... putting a story behind how it was made and what you were thinking about when making it, what your intention or creative drive or expression was ...... that- will cause the receiver of something you made to become much more attached to it, rather than, just giving them a table and saying "here I made this". That is the way to keep your best works in the family.
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
None of the furniture in my home was purchased. About 1/2 built by me, the rest my father, grandfather, great grandfather and some pieces even further back.

The kids these days live in the IKEA age, smaller houses and no place for all these pieces. Furniture is built in Asia, from plantation wood, stained to hide the color. The value of these artisan pieces built by us are not really appreciated by today’s millennial generation.

So where do these pieces go and what happens to them after we are gone?
When I was in college, I had some solid wood furniture, but it was old, beaten up, and usually patched/ painted. I also had some particle board furniture which, although not very sturdy, at least looked nice and was easy to clean. And it was affordable.

Very few people (I was going to say nobody but there's always the whacko exception) like cheap furniture, but when you're just starting out, you can buy a heirloom sideboard for $4000 and sleep and eat on the floor, or you can furnish your entire house and replace pieces as you can afford them. There's also some learning experience required here. Once you've replaced that bookcase for the second time in five years, you realize the value of something that's built to last. It also takes some time for people to develop their tastes and decide whether to go Arts&Crafts, mid-century modern, etc.

In short, I would not worry about pieces of good furniture ending up in the trash.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
My 2nd daughter and her husband just bought their first house after living in apartments for 5 years.

They bought a house much larger and nicer than I have ever had and seldom even visited.

They will be replacing their furniture slowly over the next years. Still recovering from sticker shock in Durham and all the hidden costs.

They have two cherry side/end tables I built and know what to look for when they are ready to buy.

The other three kids are not ready for any of that yet.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
But, you are right most younger folks today either can't afford or don't know the value of older furniture.

Out of style or out of reach to most and no interest from the rest.
 

ScottM

Scott
Staff member
Corporate Member
Then you have the other side of the coin. Friends of mine lost there entire house to a fire in May. They were in Europe at the time. When the first firemen arrived the roof had already collapsed. Even steel I-beam in the basement was bent. Everything they owned was made by his father. He was a master craftsman. The father is still alive but in his late 80's. None of it can be replaced.
 

drw

Donn
Corporate Member
Willem, I appreciate where you are coming from, I have thought about the same issue. My conclusion is that a lot of younger folks do appreciate high quality furniture, but many just can't afford it. As a consequence, they have become accustomed to buying the cheap stuff that they can toss when it becomes damaged and/or styles change. Given the high cost of housing, education, cars, healthcare, etc. quality furniture is not a priority. I could be wrong, but I believe your family would be pleased to have your family's treasures...that said, with the high cost of housing, having a place to put all of could be an issue.
 

Phil S

Board of Directors, President
Phil Soper
Staff member
Corporate Member
I firmly believe there is a change in the winds. I have spoken to many, mostly 40 to 60 yo, that are looking to upgrade their furniture - looking for quality. While NCWW focuses on building skills, we need to also educate those who want to know what real quality is - what makes a piece an heirloom?
How long will this change take, certainly years. But we (NCWW) play an important role in that change/timeline.
Should we watch or should we drive? Take a look at the number of visitors watching us at any given time - we can and will make a difference.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
I refer to that stuff from IKEA as "curb furniture." In five years, you ll find it at the curb on trash day. I haven't built much furniture, only a drop leaf table and several book cases. Each one has a child, or grand child's name on the back, as they put in for first dibs on them when we are gone. We have a barristers case that came from wife's dads office, which more than one wants. Told them to draw straws, as we won't be taking anything with us when we are gone.
 

nn4jw

Jim
Senior User
Being in my 70's and seeing a lot of changes, both societal and economic, I'm not sure we'll see that particular pendulum swing back any time soon. Houses used to be quite a bit larger, at least those owned by middle and upper middle class workers. In those houses were formal dining rooms, separate parlors, china and china cabinets, silver services and places to display them. Anyone remember front and back interior staircases? Those were some of the ways the middle class showed off their success. This is years before tv's, stereos, or any of the modern things people spend their income on these days. I remember when we got our first telephone. It sat on a special seat/stand in the front hall beside the front stairs so anyone visiting could see you had a phone.

I have 4 younger sisters. Only one of them had any desire for a set of china or silverware or wine glasses. My wife had no use for any of that. We've never lived in and older house with all the room for fancy furniture. Never had a separate dining room to put a fancy dining room table in, let alone the need for a china hutch.

About the only thing we have that would have been really seen in those old houses is an upright piano our daughter took lessons on.

If you look at all the apartments springing up like mushrooms in the RDU area as well as all the storage facilities you know there's simply no room in those places for much in the way of old style quality wood furniture.

In the bigger houses these days (at least until you get up to really well off owners) I suspect you'll see more home theaters, game rooms, great rooms, party areas, etc.

There's a market out there for quality furniture but it's on the really high end and for the same reasons people used to buy that type of furniture - to show off their success. But there are also many more ways to show off success these days and unless someone is paying an interior designer to frame their success display they want other things.

Like I said, times have changed.
 
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FrankK

Frank
User
My 21 year old son, who is in the Coast Guard, and lives in an cheap apartment with Goodwill furniture, has already asked if I would will him our exquisite set of European hand carved, turn of the century matching furniture consisting of a large table and chairs, credenza, china cabinet, etc. So there is at least one young person out there that appreciates fine furniture! LOL!
 
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JackLeg

Reggie
Corporate Member
Attend most any estate auction and it's evident that the younger generations, in general, aren't interested in what we refer to as "antiques." I have a cousin who runs an antique business and he will vouch for this.

We have several pieces of genuine antique furniture in our house and I'm wondering the same thing; who will be interested in it. I'm pondering just giving the pieces to people I know who appreciate them.
 

gritz

Robert
Senior User
The rise in popularity of remodeling-oriented TV shows and home oriented publications has re-set the expectations of student loan debt ridden but trendy younger viewers toward more modern and sleek furnishings set in open concept living spaces. There is little wall space left to display traditional pieces. Even if an occasional handcrafted piece is used, it is most often surrounded by disposable pieces.
Trend setting color selections for each decade have already been made, and grey tones won. Home buyers today expect a grey color palette and furniture that does not stand depart from that like natural or stained traditional wood furniture does.
On the other hand, if a young family wants to live their own life and make good financial choices, buying an older home and furnishing it with family treasures and sturdy pieces can be done today at a substantial discount, perhaps as low as IKEA price levels. That approach also leaves plenty of room for paying down those student loan debts.
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
I built each of my two kids a kitchen table and 4 chairs when they got their first place. I had earlier built them a bedroom set. I built my daughter and her husband a bedroom set for a wedding gift (Woodsmith Classic Cherry design). I sleep on the first bedroom set when I visit them, it is their guest room set. My son and his wife use the bedroom set his mother and I used (same design as the wedding gift but oak instead of cherry) and use the set I gave him earlier as their guest room set. I made my second grandson a chest of drawers and crib before he was born.

Long way of saying my kids are already using stuff I made. When God takes me home they will evaluate what I have at that point and decide what they want. If I am here long enough, some may go to my grandkids.

When I remarried I had to get rid of a lot of stuff, second wife did not want to use stuff from late wife. If the kids did not want it, it got donated. I am OK with stuff I made getting donated. At least somebody gets to use it.

I am replacing stuff I gave away now. Finished another Classic cherry bed and nightstands for myself since I retired and made two other beds, a dresser and a could nighstands before that. Will start a dining room table soon. Gives me things to do in retirement. The house is not as completely furnished as I would prefer but everybody has a place to sleep and sit when they visit so we are OK.
 

Martin Roper

Martin
User
I have two rooms of wonderful traditionally hand-crafted Chinese furniture in rosewood and teak that I bought in Hong Kong while I was in the Navy. There are no glued-up panels in any of it. Some of the mahogany is 20" wide.

We had no children and neither did my brother. My wife is an only. I need to figure out where it'll go eventually. I'd rather it didn't go to some anonymous person in an estate sale.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Some museums that specialize in period furniture are always looking for antique pieces of furniture. You can always do a little research into them to see if they are interested in what you have.

As for most antiques, unless you know for sure that someone in your immediate family is interested - you are better off mentioning those particular items in you Will and Last Testament as to their disposal. It will give you peace of mind knowing you have taken care of these little things that are now nagging you and robbing you of the time you have to spent it on more important matters - like family time.
 

ste6168

Mike
Senior User
I think there are plenty of younger folks who appreciate stuff that lasts, not just furniture. Me, for example, I am 33. I don't build the nicest furniture, yet, but what I do build, I build with the intention of holding onto for the next 50 years. I think there are plenty of younger folks out there that appreciate quality products.

When I am buying most anything, I tend to research as much as I can, and buy the best quality I can afford at the time. I work hard for the money I have to support my family, I don't like throwing that money in the dumpster in the form of crappy products.
 

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