Cash for Clunkers: money pit design mistakes

One of my Favorite blogs, hands down is Velvet and Linen.

 Brooke Gianetti is an amazing, creative designer and her posts are beyond special.  She always shares her resources and continues to inspire with each new project.  Her design is current and smart and thoughtful, need I say more?

She recently did a post about a light fixture for her new office which you should absolutely read.  She thought she might be settling for second best because the light fixture was a catalog purchase and not an original.  It was a well read post with so many great comments from readers.

Here's the fixture from Wisteria at around $250 dollars.  And below is the fixture in Brooke's office, which I think looks really wonderful and the scale is perfect.  Well spent money and a great look!

This really got me thinking about some of my worst design decisions and poorly spent money.   My husband would probably have a list a mile long but most of those bad choices have gone to the great "consignment store" in the sky.  Should we ask for our money back ?  And better yet can we get some cash for our clunkers?

Clunker #1 Copper Cookware:

 I can honesty say I will never buy copper cookware again.  I was having a Martha Stewart moment about 10 years ago and decided I needed copper cookware to be displayed proudly in my little kitchen, just like Martha:

 I wanted the real deal, the kind of stuff Jacques and Julia use.  And so I dove card in hand.  By the time I finished this collection of sauciers and stock pots I think I was in over 3 grand!  Ouch.   And here's the topper,  I hate it.  Not that its bad to cook on but it is the biggest pain in the neck to keep clean.

 I had glorious gleaming pots turn black in a mere 24 hours.  Living near the beach didn't help.  This 3 piece set of Mauviel is $650 dollars at Sur La Table and I have lots of this stuff.

 Not to mention the fact that I like putting stuff in the dishwasher.  I will confess right here and now that I have put the copper in the dishwasher on that occasional lazy evening. Martha would be appalled!

 I have also put expensive knives in the dishwasher.  So flog me now with a wet dish rag...I deserve it.  Copper pots, never ever again!  Here is Martha's current kitchen:  not a copper pot in sight!

Clunker #2: again comes from the kitchen or perhaps the dining room:  Vietre stoneware

 I love a well dressed, gorgeous table with all the wonderful glassware and cutlery etc.  I especially enjoy beautiful stone ware and china.  So here we go again.  Leave it to the Italians to bring me to my knees and make me loose all my common sense with the production of Vietre dishes.

 Something about the colors and hand painted motifs are so special.  So once again without a care in the world I bought Vietre in various colors and styles.  Platters and servers, gravy boats and bakers,  mugs, saucers, bowls.  I had to have it all.  And guess's so impractical!

 You can't put it in the microwave and it chips and cracks like crazy.

This collection is called Sorbetto and is supposed to be microwaveable but it's not because I bought some and fried it in my micro just trying to heat a cup of soup.

 I had a baker split in half with a wonderful lasagna happily cooking away.  What a mess and the baker set me back $200 dollars.  I still have all the stoneware but I rarely use it, except for the coffee mugs.   It looks pretty in my butlers pantry but no no no, never again will I buy Vietre.

 My third and final Clunker #3:  the Trophy Stove

 We've all seen them in show houses and magazines.  The stove that takes your breath away in all of its stainless and enamel glory.  Here is the most notable example: the AGA.

 This amazing example of kitchen eye candy will set you back $13,857 dollars and it's only 33" wide. What could you possible fit in those 3 tiny little ovens? It also happens to weigh 900 lbs and requires a special installer from the far reaches of the northern hemisphere to install or repair it.

I do not own this oven and I never will.  I have an acquaintance who put this in her kitchen because she had to have it.  Her idea of cooking is making toast, so it made absolutely no sense for her to own this thing.

  She also didn't know the the pilot stays continually on and it makes the kitchen hot.  Please no more trophy stoves!

 I did a post recently  about my new Bertazzoni stove, but I love to cook and the oven was less expensive that a Viking so I have spared myself a "cash clunk" least I think so.

And so I have confessed, not fully, but I can't remember all of the expensive "dogs" that I have spent well earned money on.  Probably because there are too many to even admit to.

 I will just say this however;  today I think more wisely about what I buy and don't feel like I need to have the real deal all the time.  I still put expensive knives in the dishwasher but I stick with Stainless All-Clad and basic white dinnerware as my everyday favorites.

Cash for clunkers; hopefully never again.  I'd love to hear your cash clunker stories, I can only imagine how funny many of them are.   And thanks again Brooke for the thoughtful inspiration!

Have a great week~*~kelley
  1. I have to say that I have been eyeing copper cookware because it looks so nice, but the thought of cleaning it (who needs one more thing to clean at home!) and the expensive has put me off. I've learned some lessons too about impulse buys over the years and try to be more thoughtful before making purchases, especially these days!

  2. What a great post! I think we live parallel lives!

    I have come so close, so many times to buying Vietri I can't even count. And who doesn't drool over those gorgeous copper stock pots in Williams Sonoma? I've talked myself down off that cloud again and again.

    AND the Aga? I almost bought one last year... in navy. The only person I know who actually has one is my sister in law. It sits prominently in her kitchen on the west coast of Ireland, warming the room year round. Exactly where an Aga should be.

  3. I forgot to say - my other clunker? Arte de Italica! Obscenely high maintenance.

  4. what an honest,funny entry. I appreciate it - because we have all had these moments.
    I have a policy in my house these days... quality over quantity butI research, research, and soul-search before I make a hefty investment! No emotional quick decisions!!

  5. Oh and I forgot to mention one more thing about Vietre, it scratches. You canno't use silverware because every wipe across a plate leaves a mark so when I use this stuff for a dinner party everyone must use either plastic forks or rubber spatulas to eat with...or their hands! xo kelley

  6. hi kelley,

    what a hilarious post. i love your writing style. i kinda feel like we are sitting across the kitchen table talking over a cup of coffee. i have made tons of mistakes too. but my current one is sitting smack dab in the middle of my living room. we had a custom leather ottoman made years ago and my husband loves it. it is so practical b/c we put our feet up on it every night to read or watch a ball game. we had it made a few years back, before i became a vegan. now, i can't stand to look at it. it makes me so sad. but what do i do with it? it's functional and like i said, he loves it. i've had a couple of slipcovers made to hide my shame but they have both been destroyed through use. anyways, i've gone on too long about this but again a very funny post.


  7. To Minus75: Aha! I knew the AGA had a perfect home, its Ireland. Which is probably why the oven is so small because they eat things like partridge in Ireland which they hunt down with dirty copper pots and promplty eat on blazzingly hot Viete dinner ware. Silly me! xo k

  8. My lantern and I both are honored to be an inspiration for your hilarious yet thoughtful post!
    Oh yes, we all have our clunkers in our closet. Thank you for sharing yours!


  9. Recently found your blog and I really can relate to this post! My most recent clunker was the wool shag rug from William-Sonoma Home. Beautiful! Perfect for the room! Sheds Like Crazy!! Especially when my son plays X-Box while jumping around like a stuck pig on top of it. I could have knitted three sweaters from the collected wool and wool dust in the eighteen months I've had it. I find it all over the house! Keep up the great stories.

  10. I really enjoyed this post. I have had similar experiences but not because I just "had to have something." More along the lines of "this is the look I want" and then I've changed my mind less than a year later. Sofas, a cutesy armoire, dining set, and too-many-to-count accessories have gone off to the consignment store long before their useful lives were over. My most recent error in judgement had to do with ordering a beautiful shade for my guest bedroom BEFORE I changed the entire color scheme. As a result, a brand new $800 creamy yellow shade is currently sitting in a box in my garage.

    Needless to say, this post made me feel a tad better. At least I'm not the only one. ~ Jenny C.

  11. I have copper cookware and LOVE it. I try to polish it when I use it, but it doesn't always happen. I can deal with the darkened look though. When I moved abroad (and then moved back) one of the few things I keps was the copper cookware my parents bought for me in France.

  12. To Jenny: I have TWO brown silk shades in my garage!!! Great minds think alike. kelley

  13. I just stumbled on your blog and love it!! Am going through a kitchen renovation myself and am buying the Bertazzoni too!! Am wondering what your impressions are now that you have had it for a little while? No one I know has ever had it or heard of it, but I love it already!

  14. This post is hilarious! I always think it is humorous when a person renovates a kitchen and puts in the most expensive kitchen possible...and they never cook. I know one person who renovated their house last year, all top of the line, La Cornue stove - and they do not cook, period. They actually cooked on Thanksgiving - a full year after they moved in - and they christened the stove with the turkey.

    I am in the beginning stages of designing a house with my architect, and am desperately trying to avoid the 'cash for clunkers' type things in the architecture of the house - I want to remain classic in the architecture, so I won't get tired of it and so I won't look back in 10 years and say 'what was I thinking?'

  15. This is alot later and after the fact of your other comments but still hilarious.(Just found your blog tonight and will be back). Appreciate your honesty. That's why we're humans, so we can make silly mistakes. Guess there's one thing about not being able to buy what I want when I see it, can't make mistakes, I get tired of things quickly so buy used or make something over. I have to think twice about spending $20 so guess I can call myself lucky, lol.

  16. Funny post! Totally identified especially with the use of the dishwasher which I think you are entirely correct! Truth is I never had the money to buy brand names except in Germany when the mark rate was good decades ago and the factory markets plentiful. The PX was great in those days. My momma always said have basic white always. I am on my 3rd set. I haunted the street markets and outlets to satisfy my addition. Today HomeGoods and flea markets do it for me. I put all including pricey knives except antique family china and silver in my dishwisher. Hey, that is what it is for! I have better things to do with my time. My daughter is appalled. I am appalled she hand washes her stuff. I am truely amazed she still has time to keep a clean house and clean happy girlie girls under the age of 3! Have an enjoyable Sunday evening. Linda

  17. I know this is an old post but I couldn't help but chuckle!! I have the dreaded copper (or should I say black) cookware in my garage. I have the Bertazoni as well and it has a few issues but I like it!

  18. Hi,
    I reached your article from the image you uploaded on Pinterest:

    Unfortunately, I can't see the images for the current article.


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