Conspicuous consumption is a term first used by Thorstein Veblen in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class published in 1899.
"The term refers to consumers who buy expensive items to display wealth and income rather than to cover the real needs of the consumer. A flashy consumer uses such behavior to maintain or gain higher social status. Most classes have a flashy consumer affect and influence over other classes, seeking to emulate the behavior. The result, according to Veblen, is a society characterized by wasted time and money." (http://www.conspicuousconsumption.org)
The avoidance of compulsive spending is definitely a guiding force as I move forward. And it is no laughing matter!
I found an interesting article titled, "Five Ways to Live Small in Big Spaces." And though I am not necessarily looking for a big space, it gave me some insight. It points out that if you have lived without a piece of furniture for some time, you may not really need it. When I look back on the furniture I no longer own, I ask myself which pieces I truly used and which ones were primarily for show. I have become an advocate for sparsely furnished spaces. In fact, I have come to value the open space more than the furniture. (Perhaps their really is something to that feng shui business...)
My taste in furniture has changed a lot in the past few decades. I used to be enthralled with furniture design! I even painted a series of chair portraits titled "The Secret Life of Chairs," because I found chairs to be almost like witnesses to the lives of the people who sat in them.
I do however understand the need to be surrounded by beauty. Perhaps this says it best:
"The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps - we must step up the stairs."--Vance Havner