Budget Decorating and Recycling At the Same Time!
Deorating on the Cheap
Decorating your home on a budget is fun and easy. Really, it is. I've been doing it for years. I assume when they use the term ‘budget' they're talking little to no money. Billion dollar corporations have budgets.
Places to find the best deals may surprise you. If you're moving to your first apartment or house, get the word out among your friends and family. Our first bedroom set (we still use the dresser) was given to us by a friend of my father-in-law. He was moving to another state and had to find a place for some furniture. We took the solid wood, expensive bedroom set! A friend of my grandmother had some stuff in storage and she said we could have whatever we wanted when she moved to a retirement apartment. We found pots, pans, dishes, a sewing machine, vacuum cleaner and some really cool decorative items like an ancient child's sewing machine and what turned out to be the first kind of electric toaster! Many people have too much stuff, but don't want to go through the bother of selling it and so it just sits. They will be happy just knowing that someone is using it and appreciates their ‘treasures'.
I've found all kinds of nice items at the Salvation Army and Goodwill. My neighbor has a sort of playroom in her basement and wanted a sofa. I took her to the Goodwill and we found one that was nearly new for thirty-five dollars - and it didn't smell. She could let the kids play and jump around on it and not freak out that they'd mar her expensive upholstry. I've found plant stands, lamps, kitchen items, serving utensils, a beautiful carving set with a matching knife sharpener in a velvet lined box for twenty dollars. I have a beautiful tall cobalt blue vase in my bay window that I got at the Salvation army for two dollars. You do have to invest a bit of time, and go early and often to thrift shops. Once I was at the Goodwill and a staff member came from the back room carrying a beautiful gilded coat rack. It's six-and-a-half feet tall and weighs a ton! I thought the tag said $69 so I grabbed it (gently) and took it to the checkout. Imagine my surprise when the cashier pointed out that the price was really $6.99!
Antique shops. I needed a floor lamp to put beside ‘my chair' in the living room. I looked a lamps in department stores, furniture stores and discount chains. Either they were butt ugly or they cost several hundred dollars. A friend took me with her to an antique shop and I found the perfect lamp! It's what was called a ‘bridge lamp' and has a beautiful design with an art nouveau angel worked into the top. I heard violin music and fell in love with it at first sight, but figured it's in an antique store so it's probably out of my price range. I looked at the tag anyway and it said sixty-five dollars! The store owner said it was from the 1920's or 30's and for an extra five dollars he'd re-wire it for me. The cords that are that old are cut off because the are so old they are fire hazards. (Keep this in mind if you ever buy an old lamp, most lamp stores will rewire it for you for very little money). I returned the next week and not only had he rewired it, he'd done it with ‘safe' fabric-wrapped wire so that it still looks authentic! While I was there I found a really nice desk small desk and matching chair for a hundred and twenty five dollars! It has drawers that lock and the keys were with it. Antique furniture with locking door and drawers are 'good' furniture that was owned by someone who had servants or staff, so had to keep their tea and other valuables secure.
So, check out your local antique mall or shop and don't think that all stuff in antique shops is very expensive. There are great bargains to be found there. Sometimes there are pieces that are of very high quality, but need some restoration and these you can usually get a deal on. Always ask for a discount, as nearly all antique shops will give you at least ten percent, but you have to ask for it.
Estate sales are great places to find furniture. They're better than garage sales because in garage sales you're buying stuff people don't want any more, in estate sales your buying what they kept and treasured to the bitter end. Some folks feel queasy about buying stuff from ‘dead people' - but after my father-in-law passed away we had to get rid of fifty years worth of ‘stuff' we were very grateful to the people who bought it. The sofa in my living room is very high quality and has spring seats (not foam that decomposes) and had been professionally recovered a year before I bought it. The fabric is amazingly dense and beautiful. I paid on hundred and fifty dollars for it and the estate sale people even delivered it to me.
If you're really a bargain hunter, do what my neighbor does and cruise the neighborhood on the last trash pickup of the month. This is when people move and leave the most amazing stuff at the curb. I found a garden swing that matches one I already had, so now I have one on each side of the porch. The swings were popular in the forties and fifties and are also considered collectible. I've also gotten heavy antique plant stands, bird baths, a garden cart, a little metal table that has an outlet built in which I use for crafts, and a tackle box filled with antique fishing lures! My dad loved that one. I don't keep everything I ‘find' (although my kids may disagree).
You can even get great deals on paint and wallpaper. Even the great folks at Sherwin Williams make a mistake once in a while and mix a color that's 'not exactly' what the customer had in mind. In many paint stores you'll find these orphaned cans of paint for sale at greatly reduced prices. If they're really nice, they will even often suggestions or add a little blue or yellow to a rejected can of paint. I've seen some amazingly lovely shades of paint that people either didn't want or bought too much of. Wallpaper that was special ordered and never picked up is also often for sale 'cheap'. If you don't see any, ask, as floor space is valuable and the rejects may be languishing in the back room.
I rarely buy anything new as the old stuff really is better quality, more attractive and appreciates in value. It's also a great way to ‘recycle'!