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Heirloom Furniture Monsters - The Myth of the Priceless Bedroom Set

Antique armoires – massive breakfronts – ornate coffee tables - what to do with treasures our parents valued but now nobody wants?

In my family we have the Myth of the Valuable Bedroom Furniture.

My in-laws had a bedroom set which they believed was very valuable – it was Chinese Chippendale, they said, and didn’t have a nail in it, everything was crafted from mahogany.

When my father-in-law moved into assisted living, it became a bone of contention. Because it wasn’t Chippendale at all – rather, wood painted to look like mahogany in a reproduction of the original. But he refused to believe it wasn’t worth a lot of money, and I still can’t tell him that we had to beg the Salvation Army to take it away.

And then there was my sister-in-law’s king-size bedroom set that held her back from moving to a smaller, less expensive apartment because it was too valuable to let go of…

These days, people want more disposable furniture that they can change when their tastes change, or easily move to another place without great expense. The old antiques, now called “brown furniture,” are very hard to re-sell – tastes have changed and veered more toward minimalism rather than ornate decoration.

So what to do when you absolutely have to get rid of the furniture?

Here are some suggestions -

Contact an auction firm. Everything but the House and MaxSold are recommended by professional organizers and real estate agents. They’ll do all the work (photographing, cataloging, writing descriptions, marketing) in exchange for a percentage of the gross. They handle everyday items as well as expensive antiques and do it within 1 – 2 weeks through virtual auctions and profess to sell 99.9% of everything. A very easy to make a few bucks while getting the unwanted items out of the house. And making some money from a sale may ease your family’s concerns.

Donate to charity. The Salvation Army and Green Drop (for Purple Heart) will come into your home and take away things you don’t want (but double-check the one near you – some don’t provide this service). However – they have a list of unacceptable items, so check this out first. Tell everyone that you are recycling the furniture to help the environment, and sharing the love so someone else can enjoy it.

1-800-Got-Junk. When you’re really left with the dregs that even charities don’t want, you may need to simply have it all hauled out and be done with it.

Let go of any residual guilt! These are only things – the memories created with your loved ones will never go away, and are truly not imbued in that clunky old desk.

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