High-quality outdoor furniture is more than a mere whim. Aside from the aesthetics behind hardwood, designer furniture, there are several other reasons that justify taking hundreds or thousands out of pocket for a few units of eye-catching, durable furniture, not the least of which is that it saves you money.

An economist would concur and strengthen our case, but as none were to be found to vouch for us, we’ll have to let common sense and logic feature heavily in this discourse, much to the chagrin of discount furniture stores.

The mathematics behind long-term savings is surprisingly simple. Let’s take an example:

You buy a garden chair from a retail outlet that specializes in discount furniture. You’re pleased you paid only £25 and you can’t wait to tell everyone what a bargain it was. But was it, really, a bargain?

There are four questions you need to ask yourself before you can answer that:

1. What is the estimated lifetime of the chair?

2. How much will it cost per day to own and use this chair?

3. Would I be able to sell it for a decent price?

4. Can I refurbish or customize it?

5. Could I pass it on to my heirs?

These are all relevant and, dare we say, salient questions. A rough estimate of the lifetime of an inexpensive chair would be 30 minutes to 30 months. Something is bound to go wrong with a joint or two, some of the legs would probably start to wobble, the finish would wear out and crack, and before you know it, you’d find yourself falling when you least expect it, your legs up in the air and dangling like a ‘wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man’. The cost of owning the chair is approximately 2 pence per day. So, you’d effectively be paying 2 pence a day for the privilege of using a cheap, run-down and unsafe chair.

You could try selling the chair to recoup some of your investment, but since it’s a used piece of furniture with wobbly legs, which has devalued considerably in the past imaginary 30 months, has sustained a good deal of wear and tear due to exposure to the elements, and has a lot of competition from newer models dished out by the same store or others, it’s safe to assume nobody would be interested in it.

There isn’t the slightest possibility that you could pass it on to your heirs. Also, cheap garden furniture requires constant cleaning, staining, and sanding, and it would eventually rot and crack, however rigorous your maintenance ritual. Refurbishing may be an option, but do you really see yourself spending money in the hope that someone would eventually buy this garden furniture at a garage sale for anything more than you’ve already paid for it? That’s right; your last resort is to sell it for firewood.

Let’s assume, however, you pick out a lovely teakwood garden chair, instead, made by a flesh and bone craftsman with real, honest-to-goodness tools. You love the design of it, the intricate carving, the grain, the texture and smoothness of it, and you decide to splash out on a £200 chair. You take care of it to the best of your abilities. Teakwood naturally repels termites and other pests, so you wouldn’t have a tough job of it. You could leave it outside for the rest of your life and nobody would be any the wiser, because it has natural oils and preservatives that make it weatherproof. You should be able to enjoy the chair for a lifetime, and your family can enjoy it for 100 years or more. Repairs shouldn’t be a problem, because teakwood won’t shatter or crack, like plywood or fibreboard. Unlike a discount store, where furniture is only in season once and then you never find a matching chair for your incomplete set, a teak wood collection will be ‘in season’ for years on end.

When you compare prices for garden furniture, you’ll find there’s not that much of a difference between high-quality and mediocre pieces, because a good deal of retailers pass their furniture as high-grade. Before you start making alternate plans for your extra kidney, browse for other offers. Try to find out who produced the chair you want and find an outlet, or as an absolute last resort, track down the craftsman. Let’s say you’re an excellent researcher, tracker and negotiator, and that you managed to get the chair we mentioned above for £150. Let’s do the maths: price of 150 divided by 36,480 days in 100 years yields a daily cost of around £0.004. So even though you pay more upfront, you save more, in the long run, and you have a gorgeous piece of furniture that has become part of the family. It’s the kind of chair you’d willingly take to the grave with you, if they had a big enough casket. But because it’s nice to share, you could leave it to your siblings when you pass away, along with the rest of the teakwood furniture you’ve collected throughout your life. Morbid as all this may sound, the garden furniture would be a sought-after heirloom. Buyers would literally flock to take the collection off your hands.

To conclude, there’s no reason to opt for inexpensive furniture today, because its long-term costs would most probably outweigh those of high-quality pieces. Additionally, inflation will only rise in the next few decades, so a cent spent today is worth more than a cent spent five or ten years from now, meaning that all commodities will cost more and more as we age. So, save yourself the trouble and save yourself the money. Go out there and get that teakwood garden furniture, because then and only then will you be justified in saying you’ve grabbed yourself a bargain.

Advertisements