Why is Scandinavian Furniture Expensive and is Original Mid Century Furniture Worth It?

We see these questions asked enough to feel the need to provide answers.

It may not surprise you to learn that we don’t agree with the inference that Scandinavian and mid century furniture is somehow overpriced.

That is not to say that we can’t comprehend how traumatic it can be to spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds on a single item. We can and we do.

However, we don’t believe that investing in quality should ever feel expensive. 

What is Quality

Quality can be a slippery term. It’s a word marketers employ so frequently that it’s hard to tell who’s using it correctly.

Let us first explain what we think of when we talk about quality.

Quality in this instance refers to the materials (elm, beech, teak, oak) and the way in which the furniture is put together.

Let’s look a specific example: the Ercol Wychwood armchair.

This Ercol armchair was a bit of a departure for us as it was produced at the very tail end of what could reasonably be considered mid century furniture.

We were nervous to see whether the ‘quality’ that defines the period had been retained until the bitter end. We can confirm we were not disappointed.

Look at the photo above you’ll undoubtedly notice the distinctive grain that runs through the solid wood frame.

There’s something hypnotic about it and when you consider it conjunction with weight and hue of the wood, you get a sense of presence that simply cannot be replicated with cheap materials.  

But if you look a little closer, you’ll see a joint so subtle it’s a thing of beauty.

That joint tells you three things:

Firstly, it tells you that the designer/ manufacturer who made this piece cared about the output.

Secondly, it tells you that they knew what they were doing.

Thirdly, it confirms beyond any doubt that the wood used to create the frame is of a high quality.

After all, would you waste your time designing your dream home if you knew it was going to be built out of paper. 

Cheap and Reproduction Furniture

If you take this insight with you next time you look at some ‘affordable’ or repop furniture you might find you don’t like what you see.

And that’s before you’ve even tried to use it.

How many times have you built some flat-pack furniture, following the instructions to the finest detail, only to find that it creaks, wobbles or catches in all the wrong places?

Similarly, can you honestly say that your experience with repop furniture has been as enjoyable as you were expecting?

More often than not, the small details that define the user experience of mid century or Scandinavian furniture—the feel of the handle, the shape of the seat or the curve of the armrest—are missing.

It could be in the foam, it could be in the form or it could be in the feel but, more often than not, something is not right and you’ll notice it eventually.

A Question of Time

How long do you expect an item of furniture to last? Would you, for example, be happy to get 18 months from a sideboard?

We don’t think you should say yes.

We like to think in generations when we are assessing an item of furniture.

We deal almost exclusively with pieces that are at least 25 years old and we are almost always heartened by their integrity.

With the right care and treatment, there is nothing to say that a piece of that age can’t keep going for at least the same again.

And if you divided the price by the number of years’ usage, we think you’d be pleasantly surprised.

Time for Change

Of course, you might want to change your interior theme regularly to follow a trend.

Doing so likely requires a lower price point per item and that’s totally understandable.

But we also know first-hand how big of a difference re-upholstery can make.

We’re not exaggerating when we tell you we wouldn’t even use some of the original fabrics we have seen to clean the underside of the van.

Replace it with the right material, however, and you can make something quite old look very modern.

This poses an important question: isn’t reupholstering a sofa every five years cheaper (and more responsible) than buying four moderately priced ones along the way?

And even if it isn’t, wouldn’t you say 20 years of hassle-free comfort is worth the little bit extra?

Cost & Value

This talk of cost brings us to our final and hopefully most compelling argument: value.

You could quite easily spend £500 on an ‘affordable’ sofa today and find you can’t sell it for a fraction of that in five years’ time.

However, for a few hundred more, you could buy a re-finished, re-upholstered original that you could quite conceivably sell for more in the same timeframe.

And that’s perhaps the best thing about the furniture we sell.

It’s not an expense; it’s an investment.

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