Furnishing A Life …

We’ve been in our house more than a dozen years now. When we first built the house, we had a list of ‘extras’ we wanted to add that stretched out a few years.

We expanded our lower level, added a bar, covered & screened in our porch, and worked with our wonderful cabinet-maker on a number of built-ins. At the same time, we bought new furniture, replaced old furniture, and filled drawers & closets with new ‘must haves’.

I have no idea how much it all cost, but our ‘accumulation phase’ ended some time in the last 5-10 years. By the time we were 45-50 years old, the whole house was fully ‘kitted out’. It’s not that we don’t buy anything anymore, it’s just that we’re more likely replacing or fixing something we already have.

Our son is on the other side of this mountain. He moved into the townhouse last month and has a lot of rooms to fill. He lived in an apartment during college, but his place was all furnished. Now he gets to design, research, and shop for a whole household worth of stuff.

We tried to help him with some couches, bedroom furniture, and kitchen needs, but he has already bought a lot in his first 45 days there. This week he bought a new, sleek, living room set and 4K HDR OLED TV for above the fireplace. He said it’s probably the most expensive week of his life. (Just wait!)

I looked at some online estimates of what the contents of a household are typically valued at. The range was 40-75% of the value of the dwelling. Even at the low end of the estimate – and he is a bit of a ‘minimalist – our son has a lot of spending to do in his ‘accumulation’ phase.

No one would expect (or suggest) to him to immediately go out and stylishly decorate the whole place, but he is starting the process which will likely occupy him for the next couple decades in this place and others. It will be fun to watch it all come together for him!

How much do you think your household ‘stuff’ cost as a percent of your home’s value? Is that number still going up or have you plateaued or started to head down?

Image Credit: Pixabay

4 thoughts on “Furnishing A Life …

  1. I have worked with the same insurance company for over 30 years. Every couple years I invite my agent out to assure that I have adequate insurance to replace my house. The cost of construction seems to be going up and up. There have been many code changes that you have to keep up with if you rebuild. For example I live in a wildfire area, so if I were to replace my house today, I would have to have an internal fire sprinkler system installed, just like a commercial building.

    We just visited the issue of household contents insurance, which in my case is 75% of the structure insurance cap of around $1 Million. My agent told me that I would get to replace the destroyed contents with new and would not be getting the depreciated value. We walked through the cost difference for going cheap or making absolutely certain that I had more than adequate insurance and the cost delta I think was around less than a hundred dollars. The point is my agent is smart enough that she didn’t want to put me and herself in a position where I end up shorting myself for a hundred dollar saving.

    If I remember correctly, this is the part of the policy that also compensates you for the loss of your house. Right now, with the tight housing market, you might not just be able to walk down the street and rent an equivalent place for money you can afford.

    While we were doing our insurance review this past year, we also visited my Umbrella Policy. Prior to this year, I was at $2 Million. After reading another FIRE blog, The Financial Samurai, I decided to bump it to $5 Million. Last week I was called into Jury Duty and was assigned to jury selection for a Civil Case where the Defendant was backing out of a parking spot in a shopping center, and the Plaintiff was walking behind the vehicle and was bumped by the Defendant’s vehicle.

    The medical expenses had already been settled, and the Plaintiff’s Attorney was asking for $6 Million Damages for Pain and Suffering. When I was questioned during vior dire whether I had ever been involved in an auto accident, I answered that I had been involved in three staged accidents that I had to fend off over the course of my life and that the Plaintiff reminded me of accident stager number two. Of course the Plaintiff’s Attorney asked for my dismissal. The Plaintiff was in the court room and looked okay to me.

    As a community, we got to where we are by playing offense to save a buck or two. Insurance is an area where I play defense in order to keep what I already have. I might be able to save a little if I shopped around and penny pinched, but I am dealing with known entity that isn’t going out of business and is providing adequate insurance. The particular insurance company I am with doesn’t give me a hard time about my Rottweiler and my Doberman, or that I live in a fire area.

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  2. Chief, Here is a furniture tip for your son. My wife and I bought much of our furniture that was built locally under consignment. We found that by working directly with a local craftsman or manufacturer, you can buy better quality and spec out exactly what you want. All of our wood is 100% solid wood, with no press board. We bought leather furniture from a local manufacturer that had a showroom. The sales guy walked your through the frame construction which is solid hardwood. You picked the dimensions and style from a design book and picked the leather from another book. Some of my furniture is over 30 years old and still looks great.

    Here is the kicker. By cutting out layers of middlemen and distributors, we were able to get this quality cheaper than we could buy press board garbage from a big furniture store. Our house is contemporary and rustic Mexican style. If you are into traditional furniture, the Amish are making some great furniture that your son will be able to leave to his kids someday.

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      1. Your cabinet maker might have a list of colleagues who build furniture. Sounds like you have already got a taste for custom built versus stock cabinets. I am also a fan of custom cabinetry. Get a perfect fit for your space without spacers to fill in the gaps. I was able to get my shop to even provide a detail that hid the undercabinet lighting. My experience is that pricing for custom can be competitive with stock and is higher quality.

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