If You Give a Wife a Lampshade…

Well, friends, I moved out of the dorm. In December we traded in our metal bed frame, childhood dressers, shadeless lamps, and the plastic drawers I was using as a nightstand for real, matching furniture. Pretty fancy!

How did it happen? I suggested to Neil that bedroom lamps would make a good Christmas present. All of ours were broken and had been for at least two years. We didn’t mind and really didn’t even notice, until we did. “How about $20 lamps instead of $9 ones?” I suggested after explaining why they do not sell replacement lamp shades for the $9 lamps. For the record, I bought the $9 lamps and they lasted many years but they tip over too easily for my clumsy self.

The next day, we were looking at bedroom sets. Neil had taken my suggestion to its logical (?) conclusion and decided it was time to think about buying “real” bedroom furniture. Now, it’s still all PTBP around here, so he was interested in a Craigslist find at a thrift store. After a little comparison shopping at a local discount furniture warehouse, we went to see the Craigslist set and it was without a doubt a great value. Real wood, manufactured one year ago, and came with a nice quality, one-year-old, professionally sanitized mattress. Delivery? $15. We’ll take it?

The day after we got bunkbeds for the kids. Neil had been looking on Craigslist for a real wood set, and even though I was still in my first trimester, we figured we’d better pull the trigger when a good one became available. Plus it’s given the kids plenty of time to adjust to sharing a room.

A couple weeks later we replaced all the broken lamps.

Next up is the dining room table. We’re not in a rush or even actively looking, but ours has seen better days.

As much as possible, we try to purchase real wood furniture. And of course, we buy used. Between Craigslist, garage sales, thrift stores, and Facebook buy-sell-trade pages, there are plenty of avenues for getting decent used furniture.

The older we get the less we enjoy the “college dorm” vibe we readily accepted as part of our early marriage vow to keep living like college students as long as possible. Of course, that ship sailed when we bought a house in the suburbs. But our approach to furnishing it has remained very college-like until recently. Neil surprised me with matching (Craigslist) couches while I was out of the country a couple years ago. And now everyone is sleeping in a real wood bed instead of a bare metal frame (not that there’s anything wrong with that). We really are getting fancy.

Is buying real furniture lifestyle inflation? On the one hand, it was a big purchase and a serious step up in our bedroom milieu. On the other hand, it doesn’t change our monthly expenses as I’d sleep on a mattress on the floor before financing furniture (of course, I’m still young enough to do this).

The bottom line is that our definition of what’s a reasonable way to live is changing as our finances mature. Ten years ago when we still had student debt, it would have been ridiculous to spend much on furniture when we could get hand-me-downs. Now, it feels appropriate to designate some spending to our daily environment, and almost stingy not to. We also want our house to feel like a home to our kids. That in no way requires fancy matching bedroom sets for everyone, or Pinterest-worthy décor, but lamp shades seemed like a good idea.

And if you give a wife a lampshade….

How has your lifestyle changed as your finances have improved? Do you think there is some appropriate “lifestyle inflation”?




12 Responses to “If You Give a Wife a Lampshade…”

  1. Oldster says :

    A tire can be over inflated, but it takes a certain amount of air to work correctly. Lifestyles are very much the same. Adding a little at a time to find your comfort level is key. You are asking the right question “is it too much?” Keep doing that and you’ll find your comfort level without going “over inflated”

    And congrats on the “new” furniture. Sounds like it was time.

  2. Tonya says :

    A friend of mine also recommended using Next Door as a way to score free or cheaper stuff…and it’s close by!

  3. NZ Muse says :

    All for real wood furniture! We are gradually transitioning toward some better stuff but it’s a process. We also eat a lot healthier than we used which costs more (let’s face it fruit is pricey and not exactly filling)

  4. Linda Sand says :

    As we aged we bought better furniture with a preference for teak. Then we sold it all and moved into a motorhome to tour our country. When we came off the road into an apartment after years of owning houses, we furnished the apartment at IKEA. In our old age, we are back to dorm living and we are fine with that.

  5. Barb says :

    We were married 31 years before we got “real” adult bedroom furniture. It took our house flooding to get it. I used the same dresser for 52 years. It’s weird having the new stuff!

  6. Brenna says :

    What’s so great about this decision is that it is made so consciously!

  7. Ann Maureen says :

    You hit it on the head when you said that you want your house to feel like a home for your children. Exactly! There is great benefit in living with beauty and quality, just as there is in having a home that is sensibly clean and organized. It adds to everyone’s feeling of comfort and order. So yes, when the budget allows, it’s a great investment to buy some solid, attractive furnishings to live among. Congratulations!

  8. Hannah says :

    We’ve started collecting decent furniture since the start of our marriage. We bought a new wooden bedframe, and we’ve got two wooden dressers from Rob’s grandparents (as in hand me downs, but from 80 years ago, so solid stuff). Most of the rest of our things are either built into our house, or are hand-me-downs. Every time I get in the mood to buy something new, one of the kids colors on the walls, or spills food on the couch (where its not supposed to be, but whatever), and I lose my enthusiasm for nice things. Maybe once our kids leave the house, we’ll buy something nice. Wooden bunkbeds seem like something worth considering for us though.

  9. Bethany says :

    I feel like we’ve been doing the same thing as far as “living like college students” (even though we never were college students). For the past four years since we got married, we’ve been living in a corner of my husband’s shop. A nice corner, and a big corner, but still a corner. We’ve only bought three pieces of furniture: an over-the-toilet cabinet for our tiny bathroom, a glider for nursing the baby and a massage chair. My husband had a bedroom set and a folding chair before we got married, but that was it. Couches, kitchen table, china cabinet etc. were all given to us. We haven’t bought anything that wasn’t direly needed (or wanted), knowing that eventually we’d move out of the shop apartment into a “real” house.

    So…. the real house has been paid for for over two years, and finally we’re looking at fixing it up, buying new furniture, the whole shebang. The wait was definitely worth it. Hubby is letting me redesign the kitchen with new cabinets, flooring, appliances, the works. We’re also going to redo at least one bathroom and possibly some other stuff.

    My philosophy is that one-time purchases are not nearly as damaging to your finances as everyday, recurring purchases. My brother-in-law picks on me for spending so little on food, but we spend thousands of dollars less than his family does. For every $20.00 you spend per week, it’s a thousand dollars over the course of a year. The difference eventually shows up in random spluges here and there. Like the massage chair. And I have very nice cooking tools (Instant Pot, Vitamix, etc.). But yeah, those weekly or even monthly purchases add up to a LOT over the course of a year.

  10. emarah says :

    I still live like university students, but soon the situation will change, I look forward to reasonable changes in my home such as re-painting and changing some furniture

  11. Prudence Debtfree says :

    I admire the live-like-college students credo you’ve lived by, and I’m equally happy to see you giving yourselves permission to upgrade – especially since you’ve done so frugally. We have been living the opposite experience. We were among those who did finance new furniture – along with many other things. When our wake-up happened, we took a lot from the “live like college students” handbook – even though our eldest was college-aged by then. 6 years later, we’re still proud of our capacity to downgrade. For instance, we drive a ’99 Dodge Caravan and a 2011 Ford Focus. Our next door neighbours drive a Porsche and an Audi. Anyway, you’re at a great place, and it really is wonderful to allow the nesting instinct to flourish with the strides you’ve taken in setting yourselves up so well.

    • Kalie says :

      That’s pretty amazing you were able to downgrade that far into your career, marriage, and parenting. I know it can get harder to change as time goes on and you’re more accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Kudos to you!

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