Furninshing Your Home…Without Breaking the Bank!

Have you walked through a big chain furniture store lately? Everything is way over priced and cheaply made. We had a solid wood bedroom set from one of those stores and pieces of the bed frame would fall off now and then. I felt like my mattress was just going to hit the floor one day!

Joking aside, it can be quite costly to furnish and decorate your home. Here is a quick guide to finding items that you like AND you can afford!

Know Your Budget: Going into debt to redecorate doesn’t make a home easier to live in; it does quite the opposite! If you don’t even have some cash to get started with, start setting aside a little each month. Even $20 a paycheck for a few months is enough to get a living room full of furniture if you shop right!

Photo by chictip

Make a Wish List: Shopping for anything can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Make a list of things you like to find and any details. for example. Maybe you need a couch to fit in a small space.  Write down any size requirements or restraints along with color/material preferences. This way, if you walk into a store search the Internet, you will save yourself from considering something that wouldn’t work for your home anyway.

Shop wise: Don’t over pay for something that won’t last! Here are some practical options for where and how to buy

  • Second hand stores: they just don’t make furniture like they used to (at least not for reasonable prices).  In order to find a good deal on something (not hideous) at most second -hand stores, you’ll need to shop frequently. Know your local stores well. Some stores only bring inlarge items on a certain day of the week or have sales on specific things on a certain day. 

*For example Salvation Army and Goodwill have colored tags that go on sale according to the day or one color per week.  If you’re willing to wait you could get a nice sized discount on something you’ve had your eye on.

  • Craigslist/Freecycle: No matter what kind of furniture you’re looking at, you should know your limits and be ok with them. If you’re not comfortable with a free pressboard bookshelf or 20 year old mattress, don’t feel guilty. When using websites, be especially particular. Watch out for scams and don’t be afraid to go look at something before you make a decision.
  • Auctions/Sales: Spend one summer consistently searching garage sales and you can probably check almost everything off your list. Strategically plan the garage sales you want to hit to maximize your efficiency and be sure to carry cash. Auctions (especially if you live near a rural area) can contain a wealth of goodies! When nobody wants the family farm, a literal treasure trove is up for grabs to the highest bidder. This is perfect if you’re looking for small antiques to decorate with or classic, (usually large) solid furniture items.

photo from thestate

  • And finally, Sales at Large Furniture Stores: Every season (spring and fall especially), stores will want to replace a large part of their inventory. This is a good time to pick through and attempt to find some quality stuff for less. Make sure you’re buying something that you think will last sufficiently long and is worth what you’re paying for it. Also check the damaged furniture to see if anything is discretely dented or easily fixable.

When shopping for used furniture, it helps if you’re willing to decorate a room around an “interesting” or unique piece. When I got fed up with fake, cheap couches I had very little money to spend on something new to replace my futon. I knew that if I was going to find something, it was going to have to be something no one else wanted. I had in mind something bright (like orange-which I don’t even like) and floral.What I found was better than I imagined! The St Vincent de Paul was asking $95 for a yellow/green 1974 Ethen Allen couch; I offered them $75. Because it was a good quality couch to begin with, it was still super comfy and in relatively good shape. It definitely required some shifting of accessories and colours in my living room (which was previously red)! So don’t be afraid to try something different if you think you canmake it work!

What have been some of your greatest challenges in affordably making your home comfortable? Do you have a super-find story like my awesome green couch?

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