We bought our first house three years ago, while simultaneously planning a wedding and starting new careers. It was a big purchase, and we had little funds left over to furnish or decorate more than necessary right away. These are some steps I recommend to decorate when you’re on a tight budget.
Prioritize. What do you absolutely need right away? Sit down, make a list, or think through what you already have, and what you need first. Honestly, no one really needs that beautiful formal dining room table right away, new TV’s, couches, the fancy coffeemaker, etc. In our case the only brand new thing we bought when moving into our house was a mattress. We had gotten rid of my husband’s old college mattress he had slept in on the floor for years (Gross!). We also got a great deal and bought a new Serta mattress without a warranty to save $; and only AFTER sleeping on an uncomfortable blow up mattress for two weeks while we searched for our perfect mattress.
Negotiate. Now you know what you absolutely need. Next, look for sales, price check, and always try to negotiate! I’ll be honest, I’m GREAT at finding good deals, but horrible at negotiation. I usually leave that up to my husband who loves it anyway. We use this tactic often while purchasing from consignment stores, Craiglist, or local community Facebook swap groups.
Ask. Have friends or family in your area? Ask around and see if anyone is getting rid of old or unwanted household goods or furniture. We got SO much stuff over the years with this tactic. Hand me downs aren’t always the most fun to pick through, but it saves you lots of money! We’ve gotten free couches, kitchen tables, lots of patio furniture, dishes, and even a lightly used queen mattress for our guest room. Spread the word you’re interested in hand-me-downs and see who responds! Especially if you do the grunt work like searching through the garage or attic and moving the pieces, people are usually grateful to get rid of crap they don’t use anymore. And pay it forward! If you have something you no longer want or need, donate to a friend or family or a local thrift store. We are so often asked now if we want unused items that we started giving friends things we can’t take, like wooden bed frames, patio furniture, chairs, and lamps.
Thrift. Check your local thrift stores, habitat restore, goodwill, consignment stores, craigslist, garage sales, etc. We use all of the above and more to find household goods, furniture, clothing, holiday decor, the list could go on. Seriously, there are really nice things out there you can use to make your home look fabulous for way less. Often people haven’t even used the items they donate or sell. This is great way to find those “wants” over time without paying full price. Also, check for local thrift stores for sale days. Our local Habitat restore has 50% off days when they become overstocked with furniture and other items. I got a solid wood coffee table for $10 that I made into a beautiful ottoman with one of those sales!
DIY. This tactic can be time-consuming but I think this saved us a TON of money in the long run. Much of the hand-me-downs and thrift store items we had needed some TLC or just didn’t match my decorating vision. But a little inspiration from Pinterest and spray paint or chalk paint can make a huge difference. I’ve painted almost all of our furniture, picture frames, lamps, patio chairs, you name it! Google some free DIY tutorials and you can be on your way to a more coherent, attractive style for your home without paying even sticker price.
In the long run, we all want a comfortable home, but material goods aren’t what life is about. These steps helped us furnish our home without stressing me out or stopping us from other personal goals like traveling. Any more tips you guys use to save money on home furnishing and decor?