Today I was looking around at a big box furniture store and saw some of the prices for other furniture items, like coffee tables and dining room tables. Boy, they can be a lot! I have actually never furnished my home this way. As I mentioned in the couches post, I furnished my entire apartment for little money. I did get a lot of my furniture like my coffee table, bedroom bureau, and dining room table for free from my parents’ neighbors who were looking to get rid of additional furniture items in their garage, but I picked up a few more items at yard sales.
Yard sales can be a wonderful place to find quality items for your home. End tables, coffee tables, chairs, bureaus, desks, bookshelves, you name it, a yard sale can have it. The trick for yard sale shopping is to do a little bit of homework ahead of time, so you understand what is being sold at the yard sale. You can check out Craiglist or the local newspaper to get an idea of which locations you would like to stop by. I would also recommend looking outside of urban areas for yard sales if you want to buy furniture. To have extra furniture you are willing to sell, you have to have the space to store it, and many urban apartments and condos don’t have the luxury of storage compared to many suburban homes.
The mother of all yard sales (in my personal opinion) is estate sales. What is an estate sale you may ask? It’s basically when the entire house and all of it’s contents are up for sale. Many are because Grandma or Grandpa passed away and the family is looking to clean out the house in the most efficient and economical way possible. But it doesn’t have to be morbid! Estate sales are fantastic because of the depth of items for sale. Odds are, Grandma and Grandpa weren’t shopping at Ikea to furnish their house. You can find many quality pieces at reasonable prices as the family is incentivized to sell.
The trick for buying second hand furniture is to look for quality, real wood pieces. Anything that was originally assembled out of a box, typically lacks that designation. These items are made out of wood composites or particle boards. They are cheap to manufacture (and thus to buy), but there is little you can do to truly change the look of the item and they will not last long. Ever see one of those assembled bookshelves after a few years of holding books (its intended purpose)? They start to sag in the middle, no bueno.
You should also focus on buying what you need, instead of the piece’s immediate appearance. For example, I needed a bureau for my bedroom. I needed it to be tall, and about 1 foot wide. I found a great piece at a yard sale for $10. I didn’t love the color or the handles (straight outta 1970), but it met my basic requirements. I took it home, painted it black and bought new drawer pulls at a discount store and for about $30 total I had a bureau that matched my needs AND my decor. Because the piece was real wood, I had the option to make those changes and now the piece works well in my bedroom and didn’t break my budget. Anything wood can be altered like this, so get creative and you will be able to fill up your space in no time.
Check out the blog Thrift Diving for some awesome before and after posts of furniture makeovers that are for some unbelievably low costs.