Thrifty Design

Learn how to save money and be thrifty with these simple solution while furnishing your home.

Your Home

Thrifty Design Solutions

How to furnish your home on a budget

-Victoria Witchey

decorative living room

Your home should provide you with a relaxing atmosphere to counter the stresses and chaos of your frenzied, frantic life. But if you’re as broke as a joke and sporting caviar taste on a Burger King budget, decorating may be the furthest thing from your mind. When you don’t have the funds to furnish or freshen up your place yet you’re tired of the same-old, same-old, there is a solution that doesn’t include robbing Pier One. Check out these sources:

Good ol’ Craigslist

Craigslist is a glorious and extraordinary tool for furniture and fixtures of every imaginable kind. From dining sets to appliances to lamps, Craigslist is a bargain-hunter’s paradise. Are you digging that gorgeous almond-colored couch at Pottery Barn but shudder at the $2,800 price tag? Hop on Craigslist for the outrageous array of sofas in every shape and size. Often people are moving and cannot wait to get their old gear out of their house, leading them to part with their beloved pieces for insanely low prices. Time is of the essence, however, so check back frequently – and don’t forget to search under “free” for some divinely guilt-free goodies.

items at a flea marketLet there be Freecycle

Freecycle is a considerable resource built on a brilliant philosophy and generous people. In order to cut down on needless consumer waste, it’s the real-life equivalent of the penny tray- need an item, take an item- have an item, give an item. Like Craigslist, goods run the gamut from the truly useful to the totally odd. But unlike CL, everything is wonderfully free, free, free. Well-intentioned folks offer up such items as old wall units, coffee tables, TVs, and curtains. The listings are divided into neighborhoods and areas across the country, so there’s a good chance your new find is waiting right around the block.

garage saleBe a garage-sale sleuth

As any seasoned garage-sale addict will tell you, these driveway markets aren’t just Grandma hocking her old pots. You can find some sensational stuff that needs a home (and sometimes a thorough cleaning, too!). A Saturday spent trolling these tag sales can provide bountiful rewards. Look past the ancient knick-knacks and baby strollers, and you can find a wealth of home furnishings for next to nothing. Head to the affluent areas of your town and you’re bound to score some designer home décor. Don’t be afraid to bargain with the owner – most people who have gotten around to holding a garage sale are eager to unload their stuff, and at the least, will listen to your offer.

Get crafty

Do you have a dresser, but its old antique style is, well, just not your style? Or does your bedroom lamp simply scream 1987? Fear not, there is hope for these outdated pieces. You can easily modify them to suit your tastes, and change them up to add a whole new facet to their appearance. For a piece that is super-functional but aesthetically not your cup of tea, consider covering it with contact paper or scrapbooking paper in a design you love (use Modge Podge to decoupage it on). Or paint the piece a solid color, and then use stencils or an artistic friend to create eye-popping designs. A dresser covered in pictures of Buddha, a nightstand adorned with ocean waves, a coffee table with handpainted yoga poses – why not?

Dollar bills y’all

Ah, the dollar store. If you can look past the tacky ceramic cat figurines, expired makeup and hideous baby apparel, you’ll find enchanting home-decorating potential at the dollar store. Yes, you can get cheap garbage pails, cute dishes, necessary cooking utensils, and bathmats, but you can also find quirky stuff to decorate your place. Some things need a bit of “modification,” for instance, you can simply paint over that acid-green candleholder to make it match your living room or buy a few adorable dainty teacups and put plants in them. With a little imagination and craftiness on your part, the dollar store is a fun and dirt-cheap resource.

Victoria Witchey is a freelance writer based in New York. As a garage sale aficionado and Craigslist enthusiast, she’s managed to decorate her stylish home on next to nothing – leaving plenty of leftover money for shoes. Read more at

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