3. A pair of chairs with a good shape. As long as they don't have overstuffed rolled arms, a pair of armchairs will work well even in a small apartment, and they make a room look more finished than a single chair or two mismatched chairs would.
What to look for: Look for a recognizable style so you can add to your set over time. Chippendale (shown here), Windsor and modern shell chairs are all collectible options that come in a wide range of price points. If you shop vintage, be sure to inspect the chair for cracks and other damage, and measure it to be sure it will work with your table and other chairs.
What to look for: The most versatile love seats are neutral in color and have a tight back, slender arms and either a single loose seat cushion or a tight seat.
What to look for: Choose the highest quality you can afford, and think timeless, not trendy. Vintage kilims and Oriental rugs are foolproof, but new designs can be just as worthy — Angela Adams and Madeline Weinrib design modern classics.
What to look for: Natural leather and white are the most classic colors, though a metallic can prove quite versatile, too. Be sure to buy one that is real leather.
What to look for: Rectangular, square or round; woven, lacquered or fabric wrapped ... the options are limitless. Choose a tray that meshes with your design style and be sure it isn't too big to place on your table.
What to look for: Seek a solid wood version for the most longevity. Vintage furniture stores can be a great place to find a high-quality piece for less than you would spend on something of similar quality new.
Tell us: What piece of furniture have you had the longest? Is there anything you let go of and wished you hadn't?