The Real Costs of Cheap Furniture

This is a cautionary tale about the nightmare and additional costs of purchasing cheap furniture, from my direct experience.


The REAL costs of cheap furniture


As an Interior Designer with nearly 20 years of experience, I understand furniture. I understand what makes good furniture worth the money. And I always advocate for my clients to purchase the best furniture that they can afford. So how did I get off track?

If you’ve been following the Stilt House, you’ll know that it is designed to be a vacation home and Airbnb to help offset the ownership costs. As it came time to invest in the furnishings for the Stilt House, we kept our quality standards for the high use items like the sectional sofa, counter stools, and primary bedroom bed and nightstands. But then we rationalized that we could buy cheaper furniture for the other 2 bedrooms as well as case goods (dresser and armoire) for the primary bedroom.

Why? Why would I ever agree to reduce our minimum furniture standards?! Well, for an Airbnb design, we had the following thoughts

  1. Quality furniture in secondary areas “won’t be appreciated”
  2. Furniture in an Airbnb “won’t be take care of”

And with that, we agreed to some purchases from a certain American-Idol-celebrity-endorsed online retailer. And that is where the nightmare begins.


I regret buying this cheap ass furniture


To date the following piece of furniture were purchased through said retailer: 1 armoire, 1 dresser, 1 headboard, 2 upholstered bedframes (for the same bedroom – more on that). So how did things go so wrong with five pieces of furniture?

The armoire arrived without damage or incident. However, it required assembly and not a single part was labeled. So it took an extra hour to assemble while guessing at which piece was which.

Upholstered bedframe 1 – Only box 2 of 2 was delivered. When reported this and asked that box 1 be sent immediately, I was told this was not possible. I was told I had to repackage and send back box 2 of 2 to get a whole new shipment. Long story, but I did not agree to do this much work on their behalf and the bed was fully refunded, but will now have to go into the landfill as it cannot be assembled.

Upholstered bedframe 2 – despite ordering this WITH assembly services, the retailer would only ship via Fedex and was going to arrive 2 weeks before the scheduled assembly. With unhelpful customer service I was told I had to take the extra step of setting up a vacation hold with Fedex, which I did. Fedex delivered the bed anyway – with no one schedule to be at the home for 2 weeks and in a snow storm. So bedframe 2 is ruined from sitting in snow.  It will also end up in the landfill. And now bedframe number 3 is required.


The result of buying cheap furniture


Dresser – we ordered a fully assembled piece with white glove delivery. This should be fewer headaches than furniture requiring assembly. Not so much. Dresser 1 arrived with 2 legs broken off and a large hole in the back panel. A replacement was ordered immediately, but again they tried to schedule when no one was there to receive it. Add another 30 minutes of phone calls to get this rescheduled.

In summary, on my last trip to the Stilt House, we expected to have all three bedrooms furnished so we could move on to installing artwork and window treatments. Instead, we will be 3-5 weeks behind schedule because of all of the above issues.

The REAL costs of cheap furniture –

  1. HOURS of my design and project management time
  2. Likely missing out on a key rental opportunity with the Ice Castles this winter*
  3. Multiple pieces that go to a landfill, which absolutely breaks my heart and disgusts me at the same time.

The attempt to save money has cost SO much more in time, effort, and ultimately in money than if we had just stuck to our interior design standards from the beginning.

I beg of you, for your own sanity: Don’t Buy Cheap Furniture


Buy Quality Home Furnishings and Decor


*The Ice Castles will be in Cripple Creek this winter, just 20 minutes from the Stilt House. A prime rental opportunity if we can get the cheap furniture sorted.

Did you miss the Story of the Stilt House? Catch up here