Mid-Century furniture investing in a stylish home

Mid-Century furniture investing in a stylish home

I remember many years ago when I was an auctioneer being asked were Antiques a good investment . Some today look to buy art and even Danish Mid-Century furniture as an investment , but is it ? My view has always been the same , firstly buy because you can afford and love something . If it then goes up in value over the years that’s a bonus . Never buy an item as an investment , buy it to use and enjoy .

We buy a lot of 1960s furniture often from the original owners or their families . At the time most furniture was still bought in the expectation that it would last a lifetime , particularly in the early 1960s . By the late 1970s this was starting to change as manufacturers were less inclined to say how well can we make it and price it accordingly , and were now often thinking how cheaply can we make it ! This approach definitely accelerated in the 1970s , and continues today for all but the most top end furniture .

In the early 1960s only about 20% of British households owned a car , by 1970 this had more than doubled , and by the early 2000s it had reached around 75% and has risen slightly since then . In the last 20 years cars have noticeably grown in size , and the number of more expensive models on the road has grown rapidly . On recent walks round my home town in one of the poorest parts of the UK I’ve seen numerous cars that would have cost £20000 or more in streets of modestly priced houses . In times gone by people would have bought cars on hire purchase and have had something to sell once the last payment was made , today more people are leasing cars . You can lease a small car for around £100 a month , and something more showy for around £200-£300 a month .

In the early 1960s foreign holidays were extremely rare for the bulk of Brits , but by the late 1960s they were starting to become more normal . Today apparently British families on average take 2 foreign holidays a year at an average cost of £855 per person . UK statistics say that 25% of disposable family income goes on holidays , and 22% of people borrow to pay for them ! A lot of us don’t go abroad even once a year , and some retired people will travel far more than the average .

In 1962 a typical contemporary chest of drawers by a mid-market maker like G Plan would have cost you around £28 which is about £630 allowing for inflation since then . The average wage in 1962 was £799 which is equivalent to about £18000 . Today it’s around £30000 . The average house price in 1962 was a bargain £2670 whereas it’s around £230000 today so people have to spend far more on housing than they did almost 60 years ago . If my calculations are correct then it would take about 3.5% of an average wage to buy an average chest of drawers in 1962 . 3.5% of todays average wage would get you to about £1000 .

£1000 would buy you 3 nice G Plan chests of drawers or a top end Danish chest of drawers , or a good foreign holiday for 1 and a nice car for 5 months ! So ask yourself the question is Mid-Century furniture a good investment ? It will be a fabulous one if you keep it and enjoy looking at it for a few years and much more so if you still have it in 20 or 30 years time when it will have a value based on the demand at the time .