How to Furnish and Decorate Your Home on a Budget
It's moving season!
I say this because I know probably about twenty people either currently in the process of moving into a new place or getting ready to in the next month or so.
Since I have moved a considerable amount of times in my life, I figured I would share some tips and tricks to making your new place a home without making you want to cry because of how much money you're spending.
The apartment that Ryan and I live in now is probably the first place that I have truly considered home. I don't know if it's because it's just the two of us living here or if it's because I didn't decorate the place thinking "Why am I doing this? I'm only here for xyz-amount-of-time" or just because I got this place and moved into it all by myself back in 2018.
I really really love my apartment. I put a lot of work into it over the last two years to make it perfect; all the rooms have super cute Pinterest worthy decorations/themes, my furniture matches, I have a nice balcony despite living on the ground floor, it's super spacious and homey for the price I'm paying for it (those Charlottesville rental prices, am I right?), and I didn't spend a ton of money getting it all set up in the first place.
Enough about why I love my place, let's talk about getting settled without going broke.
Disclaimer: These are just examples and estimations from when I bought stuff for my place. You will probably not have the same experience when trying this process.
Talk to Friends and Family
First thing you should do is see what people you know are currently trying to get rid of before you buy anything from an actual store. You'll either get a much better deal on it or you might even get it for free.
"But Kristaleagh, I don't want to bother them because then I'll seem cheap, what if they think I'm a freeloader/leech/etc, what if I don't like their stuff, insert any other excuse here."
Look, none of your friends or family are going to think that. They're probably just as desperate to get rid of the stuff as you are to get the stuff; and if you don't like it, you don't have to take it.
When I was moving into this apartment, my friend, Eleanor, was in the process of moving to New Orleans. She was trying to get rid of pretty much half of everything she owned. Just from her alone, I got a table that came with four chairs, a mattress, a chair with an ottoman, a dresser, and a couple other random little things from her all for under $200.
From my family (being my mother and my sister-in-law), I got a bunch of stuff for my kitchen (appliances and what not), a full length mirror, hangers, a BUNCH of decorations, a two seater love seat, and a bunch of cat stuff including a pretty nice cat tower; all of that was free.
A couple other friends sold me some bar chairs , gave me a vanity, more kitchen stuff, a bed frame, some decorations and picture frames, clothes, a bookshelf, bedding, and more decorations. This dude I lived with for a month left behind a nice sofa chair, and I stole a mini shelf from one of our neighbors before they threw it away when they were moving out.
Ryan also brought some furniture and house stuff with him when he moved in, so I'm going to consider that free because I didn't pay for it, and I don't know how much he paid for it. So if you're like me, just consider whatever your roommate or significant other brings with them as free.
Take Advantage of Community Groups
Some cities also have groups of people who are literally giving stuff away. If you're not weirded out by getting stuff from random strangers in your community, there are groups on Facebook, email lists, and even websites you can join.
Charlottesville has "Buy Nothing" groups on Facebook, one of which I am apart of, whereas my mom up in NOVA is apart of The Freecycle Network.
These groups allow you to post things that you're looking for and things that you're trying to get rid of. I've gotten so much stuff from the Charlottesville "Buy Nothing" it's crazy. Some of the things I've gotten include: a bean bag chair, a queen sized box spring, bookshelves, lamps, and so much more.
Facebook marketplace is underutilized, in my opinion. I personally don't use it often, but we did use it to buy our couch! We got it from a cute little old lady who lives about fifteen minutes away from us, and it was in really good condition. We spent $100 and about 30 minutes to get it from the front door to the living room. I really love my couch so ten out of ten would use Facebook marketplace again.
Goodwill is a great places to go to find things for a bargain price. Most people I know go shopping there just for their clothes, but what most people miss out on is the furniture and house wares that are usually in good condition.
From Goodwill alone, I bought two TV stands, a bookshelf, two matching end tables that were basically brand new, a coffee table, a bunch of dishware and glassware, two nightstands, a bunch of picture frame, some wall art, some more decorations, and a shoe shelf.
Charlottesville also has a used furniture store called Habitat for Humanity, which is a little more pricy, but you can find refurbished and brand new furniture for still pretty great prices. There I got a huge mirror for my vanity and a fairly new microwave so I would recommend seeing if where you live has something similar.
If you're not a huge fan of used secondhand furniture, try shopping at places like TJMaxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, etc. These places get name brand stuff at discounted prices.
Personally, I think their furniture prices are about equal to any regular department store, but their decorations and kitchen wares are usually pretty good prices for the quality. I usually buy all of my picture frames and candles from TJMaxx because they are so cute and match my house.
Big Box Stores
I will admit, I love to go to these stores and just look at their furniture and housewares, but I tend to wait to buy stuff from places like Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Walmart, and other places like that. I try to exhaust all the options above or I try to only buy something if I see something I really want and I've saved up for it or it's on sale.
You're not always going to find really inexpensive products at these places, but you might get occasionally lucky and find some good sales. We bought our TV from Walmart, a couple storage ottomans and matching nightstands at Target, and I got a gift card for Bed, Bath & Beyond for my bridal shower so we bought bedding from there.
Some of these places have cards, email sign ups, or rewards programs to help make buying from them more appealing. Target alone has their RedCard system, which gives you 5% off every purchase you make with it, and Target Circle, which comes with a decent amount of benefits.
Wait For It
Another good tip is that you don't have to buy everything as soon as you move into your new place. Besides furniture and decorations, you also have to think about buying food and cleaning supplies and transporting all of the stuff you're already bringing with you. Things can add up pretty quickly.
It's good to space making new purchases out so you don't get so overwhelmed and stressed out when you are already in transition. Ryan and I have been in this apartment since 2018 and we're still organizing, decorating, and moving furniture in and out.
Take your time. Sometimes waiting means that you can find the really expensive thing you wanted for WAY cheaper and at a way better quality. Take advantage of sales and coupons. Those will save you money right off the bat.
I hope this has been somewhat helpful and makes moving and furnishing a new place a little less stressful and chaotic. If you need anyone to go shopping with or put your house together with or just run decorating themes by, hit me up. I love doing that kind of stuff.
Take a shot for all of the packing you have to do and toast to new beginnings in new places,