The Dilemma of "Brown" Furniture

Reblogger Elyse Berman, PA
Real Estate Agent with Best Connections Realty, Inc. 3087750

It seems to be happening all over the country -  "The Dilemma of Brown Furniture" as Margaret Goss called it.  Although Margaret is in Illinois, I see the same thing in south Florida.  Stores are filled with "brown furniture" and collections of paperweights, pocket knives, clocks - you name it.  No one seems to want it any longer.  

In a way, it makes me sad to see such beautiful things tossed out, but it is a sign of the times.  People are moving towards more contemporary furnishings and homes these days.  Clean lines and open spaces. 

Take a moment and read Margaret's post.  She has some good ideas for what to do.

Original content by Margaret Goss

What is "brown" furniture? One of the best lines I've read this year is from an article by Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue:

"Dining room tables and chairs, end tables and armoires, (brown pieces) have become furniture non grata. Antiques are antiquated."

I know my two millennial aged children have no interest in a beautiful armoire or the buffet in Ikea furniturethe dining room. They are classic antiques that are sturdy, incredibly well made, and stunning to look at. But younger generations are keen to Target, Home Goods, and Ikea - stuff that won't make it past their own generation.

Kids are mobile nowadays, they like to live minimally, and don't want to be bogged down by a lot of "stuff."  They want modern clean lines in their homes and are simply not interested in antiques, china, lamps, brooches, crystal, flatware, and tchotchkes.

Making matters worse is that a lot of our parents' furniture was not antique quality -mostly mass-produced  furniture bought at the time. It may have held up well (still better made) but not the right color, style,  design, or cachet of the pieces younger generations covet today.

Particularly unpopular today are large things like heavy mahogany pieces, china cabinets, wall units, and dining room sets. I have heard that even Goodwill and the Salvation Army reject donations of home furnishings.

It's possible that if you are in your 70s or 80s, your own children might be downsizing right along side you. They might not want to be burdened by your treasures - however much you cherished them. Even if they wanted to take them, they simply might not have the room either.

So what to do when you decide to sell your Winnetka or North Shore home and downsize?  Here are a few ideas:

1.    If you have a house full of good quality items, it would behoove you to have a conducted estate sale. There are many such companies that operate in and around the North Shore that are familiar with what sells and doesn't. They generally take a percentage of the sale as their price and most will cart off everything that doesn't sell as well. Home sellers generally have the estate company donate the leftover items, but pieces that are valuable could be sold on consignment or listed by them online. An example is Hummel figurines which are not popular here but are in Wisconson.

2.   Give yourself plenty of time to sell your things. You may have to clutter up a spare room or basement, but it probably will take a while to find a buyer. I have the names of several people who can help you assess your belongings and then sell them for you - not as a conducted house sale if you don't want to go that route.

3.   Your jewelry should be appraised regardless of what you decide to do with it. If no one is interested in costume jewelry, it can be donated and more valuable pieces can be held onto or sold. I received a very nice sum for a small number of silver and gold chains which were sold for the weight of the metal, not the piece itself.

4.   Consider hiring a Senior Move Manager. Like hiring a contractor to add a room to your home, hiring a Senior Move Manager delegates that person to help direct the project of selling and downsizing.

Please call me for more information and referrals. I have many resources for estate sale companies, organizers, consignment shops, online selling options, and Senior Move Managers. It's not an easy task - and it's important to know that you might be disappointed at what becomes of some of your belongings. While the current young generation migh have no need for these items, I believe that their time will come again and "brown" furniture will again be popular. But unfortunately,  it probably won't be in our lifetime . . .

To CONTACT Margaret Goss, please call 847-977-6024 or email:

Margaret Goss is a full-time real estate agent since 1998 servicing the North Shore communities of Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Glencoe, Northfield, Glenview, and Evanston.  See full BIO for Margaret Goss.

Margaret Goss - Winnetka and North Shore Real Estate Broker
Specializing in homes for sale in Winnetka, Wilmette, Kenilworth, Northfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Northbrook, and Evanston.

Looking for a knowledgeable Illinois Realtor?  Google me! 

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Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

This was a great post for a reblog. Margaret has provided good tips!

Nov 27, 2017 02:50 AM #1
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Great reblog, Elyse (especially, as I missed the first posting). I have a mix of "brown" furniture and more cotemporary and classic pieces in my house. My brown stuff is true antique and beautiful and I intend to live with it to the end of my days... after that, who cares? Besides, one thing I've learned is that what goes around comes around... and brown furniture will, as well. I mean, who thought fishnet stockings would come back, but they did!

Nov 27, 2017 03:35 AM #2
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

This is such a good post to share wtih others - we are all seeing the issue of "brown furniture" across the United States 

Nov 27, 2017 04:12 AM #3
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Good morning, Elyse Berman, PA, CRS great choice for a reblog....and I'll leave a comment on the original.... love this post.

Nov 27, 2017 04:21 AM #4
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Elyse. Trends come and go but I like antiques and mostly dark furniture.

Nov 27, 2017 04:58 AM #5
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Elyse Berman, PA, CRS,

I like you see the same trend..more functional, less fuss, more transitional and contemporary sought after. Less is more and that can be a good thing. Good choice to re-blog.

Nov 27, 2017 05:10 AM #6
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Elyse. Margaret has her finger on the trends in the North Shore of Chicago without doubt! Enjoy your day!

Nov 27, 2017 05:18 AM #7
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for reblogging the post. I missed reading the original one 

Nov 27, 2017 05:33 AM #8
Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty
Waves Realty - Melbourne, FL
Florida Space Coast Homes

Wow, this is a really nice re-post. Lots of stuff that I do not usually think of.

Nov 27, 2017 08:24 AM #9
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

You won't find brown furniture at our condo in Jupiter. In face we just replace the brown granite tops with bluish tint quartz.

Nov 28, 2017 10:45 AM #10
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Elyse, I think things move in cycles, eventually, the antiques will become desirable again. It may take some time. 

Nov 29, 2017 04:12 PM #11
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Elyse Berman, PA

Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR
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