My 10 Furniture Must Haves

They say experience is the best teacher and now that I have it, I’d have to agree. I have lived in nearly 20 different houses or apartments over the years and I now know what pieces have stood the test of time. There are certain versatile items that can be used in nearly every room in your home, and those are the pieces to spend the money on. Here are my Top 10 furniture must haves, see if you agree.

1. Armoire 

An armoire with both shelves and a hanging rod can stay with you from birth into old age!

Must Have ArmoireAn armoire can start in your bedroom to hold all your baby clothes, blankets and more. As you grow it can house toys, as a teen, it may cover a TV and video games. When you have your first apartment, put it in the living room as an entertainment center and it could move to an office for your printer and office supply storage.  Big bathroom but no closets? I see this alot in older homes. Place that armoire in the bathroom to hold towels, toilet tissue and bath supplies.  It truly isn’t limited at all and could be in a kitchen, dining room, entry, large hallway, used as a bar, a laundry closet, even storage for the garage someday.

The armoire pictured is fairly inexpensive and probably wouldn’t last a lifetime, but it has received good reviews.

2. Bench

Select a style that can be reupholstered easily so you can change it every time it has a new home. Must Have Bench Here is a classic style that can go from the entry, to the end of a bed, to under a child’s window. The shelves can house everything from shoes to extra blankets to books and toys.  The top is made to accept a cushion that you can easily sew yourself and update as your colors change or the location of your bench changes.

This bench has also received good reviews and for the price, you can’t beat it!

3. Comfy Chair

Everyone needs a chair that gives them a big hug at the end of the day.

Must Have Comfy ChairIn other words, the comfy chair has to be comfy for YOU! Yes, style and color are important because you want your chair to fit your style and that makes it even better, but the main ingredient here is comfort. There are chairs that open to become recliners, some swivel and some rock.  You might prefer a chair with an ottoman. Whatever your comfort needs are, shop until you drop to find just the right chair.  If you buy quality and take care of it, it can last you a lifetime.

4. Chest

A 30” tall chest of drawers can serve so many functions in your home, so select one with a little panache so it can work anytime you change your décor.

Must Have Chest In this photo, my friend T.J. is using a low chest in one of his model homes as a night stand between two twin beds. This is perfect because it doesn’t take up as much space a couple of night stands would, yet it holds individual lamps and could be filled with anything from clothing to bedtime novels to midnight snacks! Then, someday you might consider moving this chest to an entry and add a pretty mirror above it with a lamp and floral arrangement. It could work nicely as a side table to a sofa, a hall table, even in a bathroom for towel and soap storage.

5. Desk

Matt and I have used desks in our designs to function as work tables, but in places you might not consider.

Must Have DeskSure, you can start by putting it in your “home office”, but one day you could bring it into the living room or family room and let it double as a desk and sofa table.  This is great if you want to keep your eyes on your kids while they do their homework or use the internet. A nice desk could be interesting at the foot of  the bed if you can’t give up an entire bedroom for office space. And, if it is narrow enough, you might be able to use it in a closet “office” with storage built around it!

This one is from World Market.

6. Drop Leaf Table

I bought an antique drop leaf table about 20 years ago and it’s been a part of my family room, my office, and in a hall and I couldn’t part with it!

Must Have Drop Leaf TableMy table is similar to this one I found shown at Mine too is a gateleg table meaning when the drop leaf comes up, a leg will swing out to support the leaf. This worked beautifully in my office as a work table because I could change the size of my work space depending on how involved my project was going to be. In an entry hall it easily holds a couple lamps, a container for mail and keys, magazines, whatever you’d like. Now, it resides in my great room as a sofa table and I have it dressed with a couple floral arrangements in rustic pottery along with a metal rooster, (of course)!

7. A Statement Headboard

It used to be that a bedroom suite was the ultimate in a bedroom where all of the pieces match.

Must Have Headboard

Today, it is more widely accepted that your home is all about YOU! Choose furniture that makes you happy which means you can mix and match to satisfy the designer in you. One way to take the first step in this process is to move your current headboard to another bedroom and select something new that makes a statement.  An upholstered headboard is a great way to go. You can select a color that appeals to you and really make a splash with your bed, and still keep the rest of your matching furniture.

This headboard is available in about a dozen different colors and has made a lot of people pretty happy with their selection.

8. Host and Hostess Chairs

This is a relatively new concept in design and I have had a set of these chairs for about a year and am quite happy with them for several reasons.

Must Have Hostess ChairsHost and hostess chairs are mainly for the heads of your dining table. They are upholstered chairs that blend with the chairs you currently own, but like the statement headboard, they make a stronger statement at the ends of the table. I like that they add some softness to my dining room where before everything but the area rug and draperies was wood. What makes these “must haves” is that they are very versatile. You could move them into the living room as side chairs and they are substantial enough to look like they were meant to be there. This makes them great accessory chairs in bedrooms and offices as well.  Mine are upholstered in twill but there are slipcovers available. Plus, I can sew my own slipcovers if I want so I can make them change with the seasons if I wish.

I think these chairs are attractive and as long as your side chairs aren’t taller than these, they will stand out nicely as statement pieces, yet at a reasonable price.

9. Ottoman

If you enjoy having your feet propped up while relaxing, you might consider an ottoman instead of a coffee table.

Must Have OttomanYour relaxation preferences probably aren’t going to change, so work it out so you can raise your feet in comfort! A large ottoman like this one can have many benefits. Aside from it’s good looks, you can rest easy on it without hurting a wood finish. This ottoman actually has storage in it so you simply lift the top and you can store throws, extra pillow covers, the TV remote, a tray so you can set up beverages and snacks, anything your heart desires!

This seems like a great ottoman if you are interested in giving your family room or den a little extra style!

10. Sofa or Loveseat

I wrote sofa or loveseat, because for me it is a sofa, but as I’m thinking more about it I believe that a loveseat might be more versatile just because of it’s smaller size. But, the point is the same.

Must Have LoveseatA loveseat is a wonderful piece of furniture that can be used in a living or family room in combination with a sofa, another loveseat or a set of chairs. It’s smaller size makes it a prime candidate for hearth rooms, larger dining rooms with space for a seating area, bay windows, even bedrooms. Find one that speaks to you and you’ll love it forever. Remember, if the construction is good, you can have it reupholstered down the road and you may never have to replace it.

This loveseat has real style with it’s interesting shape and tufting.

So there’s my list of 10 “must have” furniture pieces. You may notice that the list is alphabetical but I thought it might be beneficial for you to see my list in order of importance.

1. Comfy Chair – Because we all need that feeling of familiar comfort.

2. Armoire – So versatile and affords great storage.

3. Sofa/Loveseat – Buy quality and a style you love and it can last a generation.

4. Statement Headboard – A great headboard can make any furniture look better.

5. Host /Hostess Chairs – Warm up a dining room and are extra seating anywhere.

6. Drop Leaf Table – Very versatile, offers lots of extra dining space.

7. Desk – We all need a work surface yet this can be many things in many places.

8. Chest – Well made case pieces can become family heirlooms.

9. Bench – Could be pulled up to your drop leaf table in a pinch!

10. Ottoman – Multi-functional as a table and storage piece as well.

Remember to buy the best quality you can in these items, as well as classic styles with a twist or interesting details so they blend with your changing tastes and last for as long as you still love them!



  1. jeanne d. says

    Shari, Thank you! This is an excellent article to
    keep in a residence portfolio! The traditional-always-in-style
    designs, the sizing, and multiple usage make these
    pieces “family keepsakes”.
    jeanne d.

  2. Sheila K says

    I would say that I agree with MOST of these but not all of them. I agree with buy quality and something that will last style wise, that way as your taste change, it will always fit in (like the armiore).
    I am not completely sold on the Host/hostess chairs, nor the statement headboard, but I get your point. I appreciate the things you bring to us, you have amazing style, I just have a problem putting it all together!

    • Shari Hiller says

      Hi Sheila, if you could choose 10 “must haves” what would they be? It might be fun to hear from others. I wanted to add other items that weren’t necessarily furniture but stuck to my initial idea. I like the idea of a quality clock, a variety of little glass bowls for candy or nuts, a good cutting board….

      • Sheila K says

        I love your “other” things idea as well! I am in fact planning on purchasing a quality clock in the near future, and I already have a beautiful set of glass candy/nut dishes that I purchased from of all places, the dollar store! If I could add to that I would say a set of quality Table Lamps. I have a classic set that I purchased with a oil rubbed bronze finish… They came with white shades but I bought some beautiful Gold faux silk shades and I think it adds a little class to my space. I would also say a nice large (but not too large) Mirror, they do wonders to open up a space!
        As far as furniture pieces, I would say of course a quality dining set but also End Tables/Coffee Table… ( Hmmm maybe I am just thinking these beacuse I am in need of some?? ha ha ) I look forward to hearing more of your ideas! Thanks Shari!

  3. Deb Bradley says

    Your list is definitely a keeper. We have recently downsized and most of your “must have.” were on the keep list. The host/Hostess chairs are a new addition to our home, but will definitely stay on the “must have” list.

    Other items like mirrors, clocks and other things can be changed, updated etc, but the Big 10 are close to forever items.

    • Shari Hiller says

      Hi Deb, I like the concept of the Big 10! Since you’ve just been through the process of paring down, were there things that you think were missing from the list? We could always make it a dozen!

      • Deb Bradley says

        No, I think you hit the best of the best. I’m sure the list could be extended….I was able to let go of many things, since I have daughters who were happy to take many memorable pieces from 50+ years of collecting….a couple of framed antique maps came along with us…just because I couldn’t part with them.

  4. Jenny B. says

    I like the list, it’s a good starting point. I had an armoire for 20+ years, but it was just too heavy to keep moving around with us. Sadly, it’s gone, but I still miss it and its presence. The host/hostess chairs wouldn’t work here because I have a round table and grandkids…upholstery at the table with children (and me!) are not a good combo. :) My top ten list would include an accessory category. For me, most of all, what I could not live without is artwork. And I agree with the old adage: buy what you love. I still have a couple of things I purchased in my early 20s that I still love and display to this day. Clocks, mirrors and lamps would also be in this category. Thanks, Shari!

    • Shari Hiller says

      Jenny, I had a good time pulling together the top 10 furniture items, so maybe I’ll do an accessory one as well. Your suggestions of art, clocks, mirrors and lamps would all be there…hmmm what else?

  5. kathy says

    thanks for this great list. you mentioned the bench receiving great reviews but there was no link at to where it might be purchased. thanks if you can offer that website.

    • Shari Hiller says

      Hi Kathy! Just run your cursor over the word “bench” which is in a lighter green color. When you do, the picture of the bench on amazon will pop up and you can check over there for the details on the item.

  6. Christie D. says

    Hi Shari!
    Your Top 10 ideas are great as always. My personal must haves are also a large statement wall clock, and a few well placed treasured family heirlooms, including a sterling silver tea pot I inherited from my paternal grandmother, and a wooden desk clock that my paternal grandfather won in a foot race at age 10. It is so enjoyable to receive your informative emails, and I must add that I am so disappointed that your tv programs are not available in my area (Rhode Island).

    • Shari Hiller says

      Christie, thank you for commenting on this article! We’ve been thinking about putting together a Top 10 Accessory List. You’ve given me some more great ideas to add to it! Keep checking your local public television station, our show seems to move around a lot.

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