Oh, furniture. The little pieces of personal expression that fill up your space–ideally, a mixture of investment pieces (hello, always-expensive couches), and vintage finds. When you’re in college, or in your early twenties, nice furniture might not be in your budget, or even a priority. Décor shopping might even mean a quick trip to IKEA, or buying stuff off of your recently graduated friends. However, as you move through different stages of life, the quality of what you put into your home might become more important. To help you figure out when is the best time to invest in certain pieces of furniture, we turned to three design experts. Find all of their helpful advice below.

Investment Pieces to Purchase Post-College

Courtney Thomas of Courtney Thomas Design recognizes that not many people have enough money post-college for furniture investments–let alone the long-term plan to commit to moving them. However, if you want to buy one nice piece, she recommends going with a headboard: “It’s an easy piece to add that gives an adult feel post-college.” In terms of price, Courtney says, “A decent headboard post-college would put you around $200-$400.” And the brand she would recommend for this headboard? “Birch Lane & Alcott Hill.

Another piece she recommends is an oversized chest of drawers, saying, “You will always be glad for the extra storage and it can double as a side table.” This item will set you back around $250-500, and Courtney recommends looking to Pottery Barn or the RH Outlet.

Investment Pieces to Purchase When You Have a Young Family

Jess Cooney of Jess Cooney Interiors says that one of the first pieces most of her young-family clients will invest in before everything else is a great dining table: “Sharing a meal with family and friends at a beautiful dining table has a lot of meaning and is sentimental for people.” It’s definitely an investment, however. Jess tells us that a custom dining table can run around $10,000. However, it’s clearly a piece that will last decades.

Another common piece for the first family home is a well-built upholstered sofa–which Jess notes is, “something that is worth recovering down the road rather than replacing.” Jess tells us that, “$3,000 -$4,000 will get you a good solid sofa that will last you through the childhood years of spit up and stains. My favorite sofas these days to invest in are Verellen sofas. They are a family-run business from Belgium and the sofas are made in the US.”

Investment Pieces to Purchase When You Have Adult Children

Christie Leu of Christie Leu Interiors says that these later years are, “when you are ready to invest.”  She continues, “You have established your style and you’re settled into your home. You may enlist the help of a designer who will lead you to quality construction.” As for brands? “I love Ambella, Hickory Chair, and Lee Furniture (for environmentally-friendly cushions).”

The first piece Christie recommends splurging on is an Ambella sofa, which can range from $2,500-8,000. Now that you don’t have young kids running around on a daily basis, your furniture can be more decorative, so you are less limited by easy-clean fabric choices. However, Christie adds that, depending on your lifestyle, “You may still want those reinforced fabrics. You will have pets and grandchildren and you will want everyone to feel comfortable and welcome.”

Another good idea is investing in nice dining chairs, which can cost $250-900 each. Depending on how much you like to entertain, these are great pieces for dinner parties.

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