Buy New or Renew?

Finally! A "cash for clunkers" program for that ugly sofa. The New York Times reports on a trend of buying new furniture at discount by trading in those unloved pieces in exchange for a donating the old furniture to a worthy charity.

The Times quotes Jim Lucas, the director of shopper marketing at the advertising firm Draftfcb in Chicago. "We're seeing lots of trends where people are moving away from conspicuous consumption, to caring about the environment, to 'Do I really want another one?' "

So you have a choice: buy new or renew?

A new fall fabric line from an Ikea-slipcover-maker may turn your plain-old Ikea chair into something a bit less obviously off the showroom floor.

Or did you inherit a sofa that's sturdy and comfortable... but fugly? Its classic chintz not quite working with your minimalism? Nausea-inducing plaid? Have no fear.

One word: slipcovers. So new furniture via a trade-in program or give your old stuff new coats ... what's the better deal?