Minimalist Furniture to Stand the Test of Time

Not long ago I sat in a trendy, ultra-minimalist waiting room.  The walls were bright white, the carpet gray, the black-mullioned windows uncovered.  The chairs, made of chrome and black plastic, were angular and sharp.  The wall art featured looping dribbles of black and gray with flecks of metallic gold. 

I hated it.

Fortunately, it's not necessary to go with uncomfortable, artsy-modern furniture in order to have a minimalist home.  If that's your preferred style, great, but I think a true minimalist opts for high-quality pieces that will last through years of use, moves, and d├ęcor trends.

Furniture classics will keep your home minimalist.

Investing in furniture for your apartment or anywhere you're not sure you'll live forever can seem like a waste.  Why spend good money on pieces that might not fit or go with your dream home down the road?  So most of us buy cheap stuff that is part of the latest design fad, meant to be replaced every year or two.  This not only creates a ton of waste, but costs more money in the long run.

There are some pieces worth investing in as soon as you can afford them – high quality furniture that will age well, go with many styles, and easily find a place wherever you wind up living.  Here are five you shouldn't hesitate to add, even in an apartment or tiny first home.

5 pieces of furniture to keep forever

1.  Compact leather sofa

Even if you're not sure of your personal style and/or your rooms are small, don't choose to spend as little as possible.  A sofa is a piece you'll use every single day, and it can be an anchor for a living room, family room, or home office.  It's worth investing as much as you can afford in one that will be versatile and comfortable for many years.

A compact brown leather sofa can be the perfect lounging spot.  Leather is easy-care, it will age well and develop a lovely patina, it remains cool to the touch, and it will coordinate easily with upholstered pieces.  It can be the star of the show in a small living room, but works well in a supporting role in a bigger seating arrangement.

If you gravitate toward contemporary, casual styles, choose a sofa with square arms.  If you like more traditional or retro looks, consider sofas with round arms and possibly studs or tufting. 

2.  Sturdy dining table

A simple, well-made dining table can work in the corner of a kitchen or living room for now, and become a desk or game table in a larger house later, if that's where you end up.

A second-hand hardwood table has already stood the test of time.  In fact, this is one piece that might be handed down between generations.  My daughter's table used to belong to my husband's parents, and Jon refinished it before passing it along.  

If you reuse an older table, any scratches in the surface can be considered "distressing" (design details, rather than flaws), so if you accidentally add a few more, it won't matter.  That said, it's worth protecting your table with a hard wax polish, which should be applied about once a year.

A round table is most versatile, and some have a leaf or two that allow them to be extended.

3.  Ottomans and multiuse occasional tables

Many people think a "living room set" includes a sofa, a side chair or two, and a coffee table.  But in a small room, less-bulky furnishings create a sense of spaciousness.  Instead of a table, buy an ottoman or a pair of ceramic garden stools.*  You'll gain great flexibility both now and later.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

Storage ottomans can hold games, video discs, or seasonal blankets and throws.  And just like garden stools, they can provide extra seating or a spot for your book, beverage, snack, or phone.

Later you can tuck these pieces into a family room or bedroom, or the garden stools can go to the patio.

4.  Classic sideboard

Another piece that might pass from one generation to the next, a sideboard provides storage and a serving area in the dining room but is versatile enough to act as an entrance table, TV room media cabinet, office credenza, or even a bedroom dresser.  Choose one made of wood, with a mix of shelves and drawers, and it will provide decades of use.  I inherited mine from my parents, and it has seen continual use since 1967.

5.  Pair of chairs

Lastly, a matching pair of side chairs will always be useful.  In a small home, they can complete your living room.  In a larger dwelling they might travel to the dining room, bedroom, or home office.

For the greatest versatility, choose chairs in a neutral color such as beige, gray, or navy (you can change the look with a throw pillow).  Opt for a streamlined style with low or no arms in a size that can tuck under a desk or at the end of a dining table.

With solid quality and versatility, these five pieces will grace your home forever, keeping landfills emptier and adding a sense of continuity and familiarity even as styles change.  Paint, curtains, and decorative touches may come and go, but these foundation items will continue to be useful and beautiful in your home.  Classics are the ultimate minimalist choice.

If you enjoy decorating your home, check out my book Comfortable Minimalism: Create a Home with Plenty of Style and a Lot Less Stuff.  You can start making your home more beautiful and welcoming right now, even if you have no money to spend.  

Experience more open space, more natural light, and easier home care.  Learn how to do a home tune-up, how to undecorate, how to make the most of fewer collections, how to fix your areas of biggest complaint, and discover the colors, styles, and signature touches that matter to you.

From slight tweaks to a completely new look, Comfortable Minimalism is packed with ideas and projects that will help make your home the stylish haven of your dreams. 


  1. I bought wooden 2-drawer filing cabinets to use as end tables in the living room. One currently holds my husband's music collection along with headsets, etc, and the other holds remotes and plastic shoes boxes of misc stuff like batteries and hand sewing supplies.
    Linda Sand

  2. This is really an awesome blog I ever seen. All the articles are very well written and very helpful. Thanks for sharing about modern furniture

    1. The items you're linking to look extremely expensive.

  3. I am vegan, trying to become the most compassionate person that I can and help our environment and for animal welfare reasons. I would not buy leather or that animal-hide rug in one of the photos. I hope when supporting minimalism, that it is partly about helping the environment and our planet, and that would include looking at how what we buy affects the environment, animals (so many quickly becoming endangered, and even how this affects the workers in places like slaughterhouses, the impact of raising cattle on the climate, and so much more.

    1. Thank you for your comment. It sounds like you're making intentional, reasoned choices, which is certainly in keeping with minimalist ideals. Of course you should abstain from leather if that is your belief.


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