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Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Posted by cottonpenny (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 28, 12 at 10:38

We are building a new house and we will have a dining room, which we've never had before. So we don't have any furniture for it.

It just so happens that my grandmother is moving out of her house into a retirement community in the next year or so. So she is not taking her set with her.

Her set is very good quality, but maybe not quite my style. It was purchased new in 1969 at Paine Furniture company in Boston and cost about $5000 then. So would obviously be a very nice set, and I could not afford something comparably nice today.

The chairs are upholstered and have wicker backs. My mom thinks it may be cherry. She also has a big hutch that goes with it, and a custom made pad. I think I've probably never ever seen it without the pad, so it's in pristine condition.

My grandmother is going to bring pictures so I can make my decision. I am kind of thinking that I may always regret it if I let my grandmother's furniture go and buy a cheap set at Pottery Barn that I don't like in 5 years anymore anyway. Even if this doesn't go with the style of my house now - who knows how styles change in the future?

My grandmother says she will not be offended either way, but I'm sure she would rather me have it than sell it.

WWYD?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Take the furniture. You can find many ways to update it to your taste. Live with it awhile, and I bet you won't regret it. I never got my grandmother's dining set because I was in an apartment, and no one wanted to store it indefinitely for me. I am still looking for a buffet like hers, just for the memories.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Tastes do change some as we get older (disclaimer: I am 60-ha), so knowing it would make your grandmother happy could be a deciding factor if it were my decision. That being said, I still love most of the antique pieces that I loved in my grandmother's home when I was a child. If it is totally ugly to you, then don't take it. If it is just that it is formal and you have a more relaxed style, then I would say take it. You could always sell it down the road if you find it doesn't work for you. Cherry is always nice. Maybe you could take the table and chairs only. I like to mix and match and frequently, I will see a set in someone's home and feel the hutch is just too much.

Bottom line, don't take it if you hate it and don't feel guilty about that-grandmothers (more than mothers I think) get that our taste may be different. If you are wishy-washy on it, then try it. No harm done if you unload it in a few years and even if your grandmother says she doesn't mind if you don't take it (and I am sure she wouldn't), it could give her great joy to know she is passing something she loves down to her granddaughter. That would be a lovely gift to give her.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I had a friend who took her Mom's dining room set with wicker back chairs. My friend purchased new fabric and had the seats and the wicker backs covered. It looks great. You might be able to detach the top of the hutch and use the base as a sideboard in your dining room. That will give the set a different look too.

Unless you spend a small fortune, you'll never be able to get a new set of similar quality.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I agree with the others - unless you absolutely hate it, take it and live with it for awhile. If possible have your grandmother over for dinner and share memories of past dinners around the table. It will mean the world to her and give you a memory for a lifetime. If after awhile (6 months, year, 5 years) you realize it's not for you, then part with it with good memories.

Unless you're willing to spend bigger bucks, they don't make furniture like they used to. We live in a disposable society. My current dining set is nearly 30 years old and I just can't find anything as sturdy or functional.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I would only take it if I liked the shape of it. You can always change the finish and upholstery, but if you hate the lines, then you are stuck with something that might be quality, but unliked. I would rather have a cheap piece with a shape that I liked than a quality piece that I didn't like, but that's just me.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Post the pictures - hopefully your mom will get detailed pics and we can see the whole set and get a sense of how well it's made.

You have to be honest with yourself - if you REALLY don't like it, don't try and make it fit into your life. If you think you could work with it as is or with some upholstery updates at some point, then take it. There are a lot worse things in life than having a dining set that may not be your first choice but came from your loving grandma. I hope it works for you.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Take it. I turned down some furniture from my great aunt's house when I was in my 30's. It wasn't trendy enough for me. Now I really wish I had ot and never could afford anything as nice.

But, if you really hate it, don't take it. Do try to be open minded about it. Think of all the other things you could buy with that money.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Yes, post some pics if you can. You can probably do a lot with reupholstering the seats, and if the backs are worn, they can be redone.

You make a good point that anything you buy new unless it's very expensive, will not be as well made.

One of my nieces really wanted my mother's set (originally our aunt's from the 40's), which is great, because I would've hated to see it donated. I would have just taken it and had it shipped here.

I actually wound up buying a vintage dining room set.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

OMG! Take it! It sounds very high quality. Don't pass up this golden opportunity.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Take it as others have said. Even if you are not sure of it now, live with it for a while.

Go to Miss Mustard Seed's blog and look at the many dining room sets that she has transformed with paint into very stylish furniture. Perhaps this would be a way to make it fit better if you have regrets about taking it.

My mother gave her mid-60's spanish style set to my niece with the stipulation that it not be painted until she was gone!! Love it! She has seen the pictures of sets that have been painted but she emotionally isn't able to see that happen to her beloved furniture.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I would take the furniture. In fact, I did take our family dining room furniture, all Baker, one piece custom made for my mother, and I love it! We use it often and I love the way it looks. The new, blocky stuff from places like Pottery Barn is not made of fine woods and will be out of favor in another ten years. My 25 year old DD has already put dibs on our DR furniture. When my mother moved into a condominium she bought a gorgeous smaller round table and chairs from George Smith, and I have my eye on those when we downsize :-)

BTW--- you do mean that those chair backs are caned, right?


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I have a dining room set that inherited from my parents. The chair backs were caned, and got lots of abuse, so I had them upholstered. Very happy with that look.

My uncle inherited a china cabinet from his mother and had it refinished in a lighter color. It gave the piece a whole new look. Fabulous.

Take the set. For what you might spend on new furniture, you can get your grandmother's furniture changed to your liking.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Definitely take them! I almost always prefer old over new pieces (other than upholstered). Caned chairs are very popular - at least in blog land and dec magazines. I searched for well over a year to find a set to use with our oak table (chairs are painted a creamy white and slightly distressed/glazed). They are hard to find in my area.

tina


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Our DR set was my parents' as well. Luckily I also like the style. Over the 15 years or so I have owned it I have had it refinished twice and the chairs reupholstered twice. Not inexpensive, but so much nicer than the cheap, mass-produced stuff that commands ridiculous prices today. As others have said, take it and use it for a while. You will probably be glad you did.

I'm kicking myself for not taking more of my parents' furniture when they downsized.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Kswl - yes, I meant caned. Oops.

The whole set is in great shape, caning and upholstery and all. I can of course get it reupholstered easily.

I'm pretty sure if I take it, it will be mine forever. I'm pretty sure after its in my house I won't dispose of it. There's also the matter of it is in Boston and I'm in PA so it's not like I can just lightly take it then change my mind since it will be a rather big deal to ship it here. Though clearly not as pricey as a new set.

Hopefully I can get pics this week...but my grandma is 91 so I don't know how well her digital camera skills are.

I like things that are very simple so I suspect this set is ornate than I am particularly comfortable with. Wonder what the best way to tone that down is?


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Hoping you post pix. I'm thinking the chair backs are probably cane, not wicker~seats are usually wicker. If that's the case, wanna sell~I love old! LOL


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Look at it this way: what do you have to lose by taking your grandmother's set and trying it? It's probably a cherry French Provincial style with cane chairs and a large breakfront. It might not be the style you had envisioned for your new home, but it's probably great quality and you can't beat the memories it will evoke.
Maybe with some reupolstered cushions you can bring it up to date. If you do not like it after living with it and using it, then you can decide what to do with it. However, if you never take this opportunity you may always regret it. Unless you spend lots of $$$$ on furniture, the quality will not be what Paines of Boston offered for 5K back then!

My dad just passed away and has some beautiful high quality pieces of furniture. My plan was to offer it to our daughters and then to have an antique dealer in to give me an appraisal. Our middle daughter wants it "some day" when she gets out of a small city apartment. I intend to put the furniture into a climate controlled storage facility until she's ready for it. Once gone, it can't be bought back.

I do understand the issues/emotions around the inheritance of family treasures because we have some pieces here in our home that are not my style, but I took them when my parents broke up their two homes. Now that my Dad has passed I plan on putting some of the rugs and furniture in to storage until I make a decision on what to do.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I agree with most here. Take it unless you really don't like it. I had the opportunity of taking my parent's Harden dining room set but it was really not my style and I could afford good quality that was my style so I passed. I would have taken it if I could not have afforded good stuff.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

If I were you I would definitely take it. It would be a good temporary solution until you can afford some you like, and believe me if you really like a new set of furniture it won't be so hard to get rid of the old one.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I inherited my Grandma's dining room set which consists of a Duncan Phyfe styled table, chairs, small china cabinet and large buffet. The set is not high quality, it is veneered. It wasn't my style either but it fits well in my small dining room with the drop leaf table. I use my dining room often, not just for major holidays. I do not regret my decision as it offers fantastic storage space, fits well in my space and of course it was Grandma's. Also, don't have to worry about scratches, etc. as it is well used! You can always sell the set or pass it to a cousin or sibling if you change your mind later on. I agree with others, take it and enjoy it!


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Unless the set is downright ugly, I'd take it. Dining room tables can easily be accessorized according to your style.

I use tablecloths half the time, and the change it makes with my farm table is amazing. I can make the table look farmish or sophisticated, depending on my mood.

Same with your hutch.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I just have two tips to add. First, have your grandmother send you measurements so you're sure it will fit in your DR.

Second, regarding shipment: call some of the major moving companies and get an estimate on having them ship it. Often they don't have full trucks and they're willing to add small loads in order to fill the truck. We did that with a few pieces of furniture we inherited from my in-laws and it was much cheaper than other forms of shipping.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Take it. Even if you don't want it later, a cousin who is too young right now might want it.

Here is a link that might be useful: a little inspiration


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

We are going to face the same issue down the road. My partner wants his Great-Grandfather's dining set he made by hand. My partners parents currently have it. We will be building a house sometime between 3-7 years down the road. I do not care for the set at all, but I know it is well made, solid, and has sentimental value. Therefore, we will need to build a house with a formal dining and informal dining. I'd prefer not to do so, but sometimes thats the way the cookie crumbles.

It sounds as if you are in the same position. When you say you will now have a dining room, I assume this means you will have a separate formal dining area? If so, take it and don't think twice about it.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Unless it simply does not fit I cannot see not taking it. I would jump in a U-Haul and go get it if this were me. I am going to say you CANNOT buy furniture at any price any more as well made as that set no doubt is. Even if you end up only keeping parts of the set you are ahead. This gives you time to decide, to shop for YOUR TASTE, what ever. Even if you get it home and then sell it Grandma is happy and she would never know! Where is the debate?!


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I think you have enough responses, but I'm here so: You can always buy something that matches, but this particular opportunity will pass and be gone forever.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Don't take it.

With one and only one non-negotiable exception: don't take it unless you look at the set and fall in love with it, instantly seeing it in your home and swooning at the mental image.

And here is why: I think the advice in this topic utterly ignores the classic decorating wisdom about having in your home only objects that you love. If you don't love this set now you are chaining yourself to a set of options that have only one *potential* positive outcome from the following:

-Trying, at a busy time in your life, to modify, update, repurpose or otherwise transform a MASSIVE set of furniture that you at best tolerate and at worst dislike and that doesn't even fit easily into the space you are going to be living in, into something that you will enjoy or

-Living for a while with a MASSIVE set of furniture that you at best tolerate and at worst dislike and then having to deal with getting rid of it or

-Living forever with a MASSIVE set of furniture that you at best tolerate and at worst dislike, because after all it belonged to your grandmother and they don't make furniture like that anymore and you cannot get rid of it now honey! (insert voice of whichever friend/relative/online forum poster you choose) or

-Eventually after many years hoping your taste in furniture changes and you decide hey, grandma sure did buy something I really like. (meanwhile you have had to tolerate that hulking set all the years before your taste evolved).

And, no offense arcy but of course you can buy furniture that well made today. It will be expensive, but as others have said in this and other topics, life is long and tastes change. There are nowadays zillions of options to buy things that are not necessarily made-or priced-to last 14 generations. Consumers can get furniture of reasonable quality that appeals now, and then can be discarded or upgraded when tastes change. There are also superbly designed and created heirloom-quality furniture being made today. Actually, I think there are more options to get that quality of goods made to your own taste. And that can now be done without having to buy cookie cutter design and execution, at a better price point than in grandma's time. (Whereas OP, you know darned well that once that set comes in, you ain't ever gonna be able to get rid of it without WWIII),

If your heart doesn't soar when you see the pictures, politely and with love say no thank you grandma. Don't let anyone, here or in real life, guilt you into doing otherwise! Just because someone, even someone in the family, spent a lot of money buying what she loved years ago doesn't mean you owe her or anyone the duty of 'inheriting' her choice and her style. You don't.

Ann


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

In this throw-away society, what's one or two more pieces in the dump? Grandma can sell it. Tastes and trends change every nine years, right? You don't want to get saddled with sentimentality or practicality. Dump it, buy a lesser set, then dump that in nine years. Surely you don't want to be out-of-date every nine years!

Seriously, my son and his family can't wait to move my parent's massive dining room furniture from 1976 into their new home in a few weeks. I am so very happy about this. And proud of them for being sentimental and practical. For a few hundred dollars in moving costs, upholstery fabric, and perhaps refinishing products they will have a lovely addition to their home.

Does everything really have to be just so and au courant to make us happy and content? Quality matters.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I would take it too and not just for the sentimental reasons but also because they just don't make furniture the way they used and a higher price tag can no longer guarantee a really well made piece. I prefer to buy used now just because sturdy and solid wood furniture is hard to find. I also agree with those who have said it can be recreated into something more updated and to your style.

Those are the kinds of projects I love to do. They may take a little elbow grease and work, but the rewards once they're done are awesome.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Shermann, Quality does matter, but so does having furniture in our home that we enjoy. The issue, to me, isn't whether the style is current, but whether we like it or not. My relative might love mahogany Queen Anne. I might prefer Regency in fruitwood tones or teak MCM. Therefore, no matter what the quality is of the Queen Anne set, I wouldn't like it or want it. If my preference means that I have to live with a skirted makeshift table or an Ikea set until I can afford what I really want, then so be it. If I love MCM, I'd rather have an Ikea knock-off of a Saarinen table because it fits my style than a Queen Anne set of high quality.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

An empty room vs a place to have family dinners? If we were talking "trading up" for something she really isn't thrilled with, I might agree but filling a room making it usable while she saves for the "dream" set, I say do it. I challenge anyone who thinks they will find similar quality, workmanship, materials for less than a down payment on a house. Not everyone can ever afford the piece of their dreams. Some of us make do while we dream. Some of us sit on MIL hand me downs so we can pay for garage sale toys for our kids. "Loving it to be in your home" for some of us would a lot of empty rooms.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Arcy, I have made do. I lived with a plywood round atop a metal restaurant base covered by a long cloth for many years. I didn't have a bed or mattress and slept on the floor. Even in those circumstances, I chose not to use the Early American maple furnishings that I could have had from my grandparent's house when he downsized.

Most importantly, I understand that any such choice is so very personal. If someone would rather have furniture that they don't like, but that fills the room and serves its purpose over make-do pieces or empty rooms, I applaud that decision. I just wanted to offer a different perspective, respectfully.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

It 's good that you stuck to your priciples, Fun, and slept on the floor. My principles would allow me to happily accept my gf's furniture. As you said, the choice is very personal.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I would take the pieces as well (and in fact, did). It meant a lot to my hubs to have his family's DR set, but it totally wasn't my taste/style. I must say that it's been rather fun to make it work, with the help of kind folks here ! We had the backs re-caned and we covered the seats. I bet that you can do the same and this will help to make your home~ unique.

On another note....Bannie, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. Deepest sympathy to all. :(


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I remember my first dr table. It had been my grandmother's - the legs were painted yellow, and it had linoleum on the top. I kept it covered with a table cloth and used it for a few years until I knew what I wanted. I still have it - it makes a great craft table.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Cotton, were you able to get pix? How is your decision coming along??


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

If my grandmother were moving to a nursing home and offered me a nice dining set (especially young and starting out) I'd definitely take it, out of respect and frugality. If your grandmother is offering it to you, I suspect it would mean a lot to her if you'd accept it. Assuming your grandmother was good to you (as mine was) some times you need to think about pleasing others before yourself.... esp if your grandmother is near the end of her life. This is not so much directed towards the OP as it is to others who have posted afterward.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Bump to add photos. These are quite possibly the worst photos I've ever seen - My grandma couldn't figure out how to download them off her camera, so I had to take a photo of her camera's LCD with my phone. I don't have a picture of the table cause she said it was covered with stuff (since she's moving) and a tablecloth so she couldn't take one. Do these change anyone's opinion?

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

That set has nice clean lines and I would take it in a heartbeat.
Please upload the pics so we can see them better.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I love the set! Not too ornate or fancy, looks like would go with about any style you chose, and if the chair cushions don't match your decor, they'd be a breeze to recover yourself. This is no doubt a high-quality set and I'd take it in a heartbeat. You're a lucky gal!


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Thanks, I was pleasantly surprised too! I guess I shouldn't have been - Grandma has good taste. She went to art school in the late 60s after my mom was in high school, so her house is full of original MCM-ish art.

I told her I'd take the set as long as it fit in my dining room, but the room is 15x15 so I don't think I'll have a problem. Already thinking of what color to reupholster the chairs!

There is apparently a matching sideboard, but she's taking that with her. In the photos, the avocado carpet is original, wool, expensive, and in excellent shape. No doubt the future owners will tear it out to get to the pristine never used hardwood underneath. This irks her to no end :-)


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Wow lovely furniture. The upholstery isn't bad either, you could keep it until you decide what to do with it and not worry. Love the chair shape.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I think the question is how do YOU like it now that you have pictures? You and your family will use it, even if all of us love it and you hate hate hate it, well that maybe hard to live with. I inherited a few pieces from my MIL. I think they are fine, I LOVE that they belong to DH's family history. The part that strikes me as humorous is they are hand me downs from my MIL's MIL. My MIL HATED them. She took them graciously and then used them only in dark corners or where "company" would never see them. She gave them to me with lots of apologies and permission to use them only until my husband had the time to make us better. She was very excited to unload them, an old Stock-man's secretary desk and a pie crust table. In my house they are front and center in my living room. They are conversation pieces. I have never considered allowing DH to make replacements for them.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I'm so glad you like it and are taking it. I inherited my grandparents bedroom suite and paid to have it moved from TX to CT last year. . I called everyone, and found by far the most reasonable choice was ABF, one of those pods you pack yourself and they transport for you. Of course that may have been due to the distance, but wanted to pass along.

It's a lovely set. I'd take it in a heartbeat.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I'm impressed that she took the pictures!
Yes-- yes! Take the furniture, please........


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

Take the rug too!


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

I took my parents danish modern teak dining room set after mom passed away and dad moved into a retirement community. It is a gorgeous set and in pristine condition - and they had it for 50 years! But, it doesn't exactly fit my contemporary style. Yet, the lines are clean and I can make it fit. I think if I can get the chairs redone, or get new chairs, I will actually be very happy with it.

I'm also keeping it in part because, now having taken it, it would be even harder for me to part with. It sounds like you have made your decision, and I think I'd take it too. But to those who say take it and live with it and then if you don't like it get rid of it - I think it is harder to get rid of something once you have it than if you never accept it in the first place. Just something to think about.


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RE: Dining room furniture - buy or inherit?

We inherited my husband's mother's dining furniture a few yrs ago which is quality built from the 60's. I agree with beeps in that it is harder to get rid of something once you have it. When we brought the furniture home, I wasn't sure, but once it was in place, I've loved it and wouldn't think of selling or giving it away.


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