You can find expensive and/or cheap furniture everywhere. If you know that you're looking for either one of those you won't have much trouble finding it. The dilema is when you are looking for a piece that has lasting style and quality. How can you determine what the break even point is of cost vs. quality? There are a few things you can look for:
1. The frame or "bones" of a good piece usually have classic lines and are made of quality material like solid wood, or metal are a couple examples. Styles such as Art Deco, Arts and Crafts and Mid-Century modern are perpetually popular, especially period pieces. Well made replica's make great investment pieces as well. If the upholstery is't great, don't sweat it...that can always be replaced(and needs to be every so often). Focus on what can't be replaced!
2. The pieces come from a reputable company/manufacturer. This is increasingly important with people becoming more conscious about where their furniture comes from. Pieces made in the USA, and Europe can have much better quality and thus last longer than some made overseas.
3. It is antique or period piece from a designer. Think Shaker, Mies Van der Rohe, Beidermier, Tiffany ect. These are legendary names with the quality to match. If you are able to nab one of these period pieces you've definitely made a good investment.
4. The piece is well put together. Designer or no...if the joints and other parts even look a little on the unstable side walk away.. The only exception is an antique piece that simply needs to be restored.
5. It works in conjunction with several other styles or pieces you already have. If it's an island of furniture, it's probably not a good investment since you might end up having to change everything to fit this one, usually more expensive piece.
6. It won't break the bank, and know what you're buying. It doesn't matter if you're looking for an antique or a brand new piece, knowledge is power. To make your benjamins reach their full potential research styles, construction methods, material testing methods. Research before shopping and respect your budget while shopping. It's no investment if it's more than you can afford.
These guidelines help me when I look for new pieces and I hope they will be helpful to you too!
Here are a few places in Nashville to help in your furniture search:
1. The Green Hills Antique Mall: (615) 383-9851
2. JJ Ashley's: (615) 791-0011
3. Epiphany Design Studio: http://www.epiphanynashville.com/
4. Mondern Nash: http://www.modernash.com/
5. Sprintz Furniture: http://www.sprintz.com
6. Kincaid Furniture: http://www.kincaidfurniture.com/bfmyers/?gclid=CKryqM7tq68CFYZgTAodJC-LpQ