As I rapidly approach 40 years in age, I have a furniture dream. And that dream is to one day purchase large pieces of unupholstered furniture that I do not have to assemble myself. I know it might seem like a simple dream to some people, but it is important to me nonetheless. You see, when I was 11 years old my parents purchased me one of those cheap $100 entertainment centers made out of compressed chipboard with a plastic, wood-grained veneer. I put it together myself and used it to store books, my various collections and whatever else I had lying around my room. It was a wonderful, useful piece of furniture that was perfect for a pre-teen. It was also a terrible piece of furniture quality-wise. It aged unnaturally fast - quickly became an eyesore with badly sagging shelves and ugly, scuffed-up veneer.
"No problem" I thought to myself. When I'm older I'll be able to buy real wood furniture - the kind that doesn't come in a box with its own mini, disposable hex wrench. Unfortunately, as I grew into an adult, it seemed that regardless of my stage of life I was always forced to buy and then assemble a dresser, desk, or bookcase. My parent's house never had nearly as much self-assemble furniture in it as my various apartments (and later, my house) did. However, I always felt certain that at some point I would break through the barrier between college dorm living with its cheap, self-assembled chipboard furniture and the more adult lifestyle of permanent, quality, real-wood furniture that had been pre-assembled in a dedicated factory.
Alas, that day has not come yet. Even as I have gotten older and earned more, my dream of buying new, high quality furniture has gradually receded beyond the horizon. Sure, I could buy some new real furniture from a high-end boutique if I really wanted to, but it would cost a lot of money - an awful lot of money. Somehow, between the late 1980s when I was 11 and today, furniture that you don't have to assemble yourself became an aspirational luxury good…although I don't know quite how or why that happened. This is one reason why I gravitate towards antiques, rather than pursue new consumer items. All the furniture made in the mid 20th century and before is pre-assembled and constructed of fine, sold-wood. And the same goes for almost any other item manufactured 50 years ago or more - the excellent build quality is unmistakable. Ultimately, antiques may end up being the only realistic way to achieve my dream of owning furniture I don't have to build myself.