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Thrifty Shopping for Home Décor

Updated on March 30, 2014

How to Spend Less for More Decorating Style

Who needs money?

(Okay me too.) But really, why? Not for home décor. Admittedly, if you want to decorate in the gold-plated Rothschild style then, yes, cash is required, but for ordinary-mortal decorating, for stylish, beautiful, comfortable interior design of your home - whatever your favorite style - you can do very nicely, thank you, on the cheap.

Design for less. Style on a budget. Thrifty décor.

Where should you be shopping? There's no one answer - it depends on where you live and what's locally available - but generally your best shopping grounds will be either:

1) up-scale stores under special conditions

2) discount stores of various kinds

3) specialized suppliers

4) dealers in used goods

5) person to person sales

We'll discuss some other aspects of budget decorating (like paint, the Cheap Decorator's best friend), but this article will mainly talk about thrifty shopping as a key to creating a beautiful environment for a beautiful price.

Me? I design theater sets.

I know how to create a good room on a tight budget!

Rabbit Hole at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
Rabbit Hole at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas

Here's an example: a living / dining / kitchen built on-stage for the play Rabbit Hole.

Everything you see - including the walls and faux stone fireplace - cost only a few hundreds. Admittedly there were some borrowings in there that helped keep that cost down, but major pieces like the sofa were bought, so we didn't cheat too much. Shopping was an intense 2-3 weeks and ranged everywhere from odd off-price furniture stores to IKEA to many thrift and dollar stores.

Note that the style is NOT "shabby chic," but a simple contemporary style, with attention to texture, but little color. Using more color, more eccentricity, or reveling in the "shabby" part would only make decorating easier and cheaper.

(Mind you, I like "shabby chic," but it's presently In-Style which means it will shortly fall out of style. Personally, I aim for less trendy, more timeless. It lasts longer!)

The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? at Kitchen Dog Theater, set design by Clare Floyd DeVries
The Goat or Who Is Sylvia? at Kitchen Dog Theater, set design by Clare Floyd DeVries

And on the right here is another incredible cheap yet rich-looking set.

This is meant to represent the Manhattan penthouse apartment of a world famous architect... on a budget of, again, a few hundred dollars. (No pressure, no pressure.) Now, as a real-life room we sorta cheated because there are lots of borrowings, but, in real-life, all of this furniture could have been bought at huge discount because they were warehouse white elephants. Find the right clearance sales and you could find similar bargains!

Cheats you could match at home? Those rich wood-look walls are built of cheap Masonite panels left as-is. The rug could be something a friend is storing, unused and the floor is simply painted. The huge modern art? We made it from foam. All those wonderful bookshelves were borrowed, but were very plain easy-to-build units made from pine planks that we stained in an afternoon.

WPA poster "The Thinker" (modified from Vintage Printable)
WPA poster "The Thinker" (modified from Vintage Printable)

Where to Start?

First stop on your budget furnishing quest is your own attitude: Are you feeling mildly schizophrenic today? It helps. Because you need to be - at one and the same time:

1) very sure of what you want, and yet simultaneously,

2) open to unexpected possibilities.

This is BARGAIN SHOPPING!

As best you can, understand your own style and color preferences and your design goals for your space. "Know thyself," turns out to be decorating advice. Keep in mind that the more specific (and unpopular) your preferences, the harder they will be to find. That unpopularity will either make your finds more expensive to buy - or much cheaper.

At all times it's wise to carry color samples you need to match, a tape measure, and a notebook with critical dimensions, like window sizes, jotted down in it. Know exactly what size a desired piece of furniture must be to work for you and what functions it needs to perform.

For instance, if you need a dining room storage piece, must it have drawers? doors? should those be glass? would open shelves do?

The more flexible you can be in answering these sorts of questions, the wider your choice of possible solutions. The same goes for color: is only one shade of wood acceptable or would a range of woods or painted finishes work? Finishes can change! But it's a lot easier to repaint something than to strip and refinish natural wood.

Ditto on upholstery - reupholstry can be terribly expensive and most amateur work looks... well amateurish. Know the limits of your skills and pocketbook.

CAUTION: there is an outbreak of bedbugs at present, especially on the U.S. east coast, so be Very Wary of adopting used, especially upholstered furniture. Hesitate to bring home that cast-off squishy armchair waiting for the trash! Always remember that this stuff is USED... who knows how? (Be equally cautious of bug sprays... one woman recently used 18 cans of fogger... and exterminated herself!)

So. Can you clean it well enough? What germs or hazards could this cool find hide? Be especially cautious about anything that may come in contact with children, pets, the ill, or the elderly since older goods may not meet current safety standards. For germ-phobic reasons, I hesitate to buy used plastics - never buy it for FOOD use. But with any material, remember that decorative use is one thing, use with food is another: even modern pottery or crystal can leak lead, for instance, into an acidic food or drink if that bowl wasn't intended for food use.

I don't mean to scare you, but this IS shopping with the training wheels off... Caution is good.

Books on Budget Decorating

Here are books just bursting-full of good ideas for budget decorating.

Naturally, they run heavy on the shabby chic style. But do keep in mind, it's EASIER to go for the shabby chic look, but that's not the only style you can create while buying on the cheap, eh? If you look long enough and widely enough, have a good eye and some luck, you can furnish cheaply in any style.

Flea Market Style
Flea Market Style

Loooove flea markets. This is a good pretty-picture book.

 
Thrifty Chic: Interior Style on a Shoestring
Thrifty Chic: Interior Style on a Shoestring

More savvy shopping advice for the stylish and thrifty.

 
Style On a Budget (Better Homes & Gardens)
Style On a Budget (Better Homes & Gardens)

BH&G usually give very good and useful advice.

 

On-Line

Since we're here on-line, I'll assume we both know about many of the possible sites for buying at a discount through the computer: eBay, Etsy, Craig's List etc. being the classics. ("Classic" on-line being defined as "older than two weeks.").

eBay, in particular, used to be a great source of bargains; nowadays it mostly sets the market price for collectibles and it's Craig's List that might hide a bargain... usually on some piece of furnishing too bulky or heavy to be easily shipped. If you have access to a truck, your selection improves!

Etsy and similar art and craft sites, where you buy direct from the artist, can be a wonderful source for unique and often inexpensive art or decorative items. I've had good luck with Etsy and gotten great prices on well-crafted, beautiful art prints (and jewelry - a different article).

Another attractive site is Fab, which carries mostly contemporary and modern furnishings, often at a good price.

As with any other time you dealing with folks you don't know - use caution. Protect personal information and, if you meet a stranger, take sensible precautions. Always check a dealer's reputation before agreeing to a transaction.

Madrid Flea Market, by Boklm
Madrid Flea Market, by Boklm

Flea Markets

From the high-tech modern on-line world to the

old-world, low-tech street or "flea" market...

I'm defining Flea Markets as any street market... Expect more fleas and better bargains at the trashier looking ones. The quality of a flea market can vary tremendously - from the world-famous Paris antique market, to the regionally famous antique market in Canton, Texas, to your locally infamous honest-it-fell-off-the-truck! single pick-up at the abandoned corner gas station.

At any of these, it's Buyer Beware. Most of these dealers are honest folk, but even they sometimes close up shop due to the vagaries of Mom-n-Pop business life, so their stand may not be there when you go back. Remember that most flea market sales are keepers - no refunds, no returns, strictly as-is condition, provenance often unknown.

For the budget home décor shopper, the most fertile markets tend to be the ones with antiques, collectibles AND downright junk. It's in the murky area between collectible and junk that you find the most bargains... with occasional great deals on the serious stuff.

A closely related type of sale is the CAR-BOOT SALE popular in Britain which sounds (from what I hear) like a flea market with car trunks as the stalls.

A Guide to Flea Markets

This is the most helpful book I've found on the topic, very clear and full of good hints, with even a section on etiquette! Well worth owning.

The Art of Buying and Selling at Flea Markets
The Art of Buying and Selling at Flea Markets

I own this book and found it very helpful when I was first starting to shop at flea markets... It IS a different experience than big box shopping!

 

Flea Market Style

Flea Market Decorating: Creating Style with Vintage Finds (Better Homes & Gardens)
Flea Market Decorating: Creating Style with Vintage Finds (Better Homes & Gardens)

Those stacked suitcases are a classic of style and storage!

 
The Flea Markets of France
The Flea Markets of France

Oooooh! I've SEEN a French flea market. Wonderful!

 
Madrid Flea Market by Boklm
Madrid Flea Market by Boklm

Art and Craft Fairs

Etsy is just the virtual equivalent to real life art and craft fairs.

Fairs are well worth visiting, partly because it's a wonderful way to spend a nice afternoon, wandering between tents full of colors and shapes and amazing objects, and partly because you can find a good selection of very fairly priced arts and crafts for your home. Some pieces will be waaaay out of your budget, but there are always inexpensive - but "real" art! - prints and photographs.

If you find a good local art fair... it will usually reappear next year at the same season, giving you a chance to develop favorites, to revisit booth to see that artist's work develop, perhaps even to begin following or collecting their work. A fascinating hobby.

The best selection will always be during the first day and hours of any fair - just as at an antique show - but the best deals can happen at the end of the fair when artists might prefer to sell a piece rather than to pack it up. You can hope.

It's wise to set a budget before you go. And, unless a piece is unique and you'd be crushed if it sold to someone else, I suggest spotting what you want, but walking around before buying it... to cool down any crazy buying fever and to check if there is something else you end up liking better.

Don Quixote by Dali, courtesy of daliarchives.com
Don Quixote by Dali, courtesy of daliarchives.com

Art Galleries and Such-Like

Sadly, fancy art galleries are usually too expensive for the budget decorator to buy much from... but there are unpretentious galleries and art and craft fairs, as well as the chance to buy direct from an artist or to find art in thrift stores or even more unexpected places. There can be hidden bargains.

(Here's my best thrift store find: at a nasty, boil-your-hands-dirty thrift store, looking for frames. Flip, flip, flip through their stock, when... wait... what was that? Flip back a few frames. A black and white image of a man on horseback. An etching by Salvador Dali! I got it for less than $ 5. Better still, it's beautiful. So keep your eyes open.)

Here are a few rules of thumb on art pricing: any art form that is reproduced - consists of multiples like posters or prints - is by its nature going to be (comparatively) more reasonably priced than a one-off object like an oil painting or carved statue. Works on paper tend to be less costly than ones of, say, marble. Art by un-famous artists is hugely cheaper than even inferior work by famous ones, and out-of-style styles will be underpriced... right until they come back into fashion. Then they get over-priced!

Art museums offer copies of images from their collections as posters, post cards, and such - an inexpensive way to "collect" fine art. (Sometimes you just want that Monet waterlily you could never, ever buy for real.) Whether you want to collect fine art or simply want to include some pretty images in your decorating, you need to give thought to both what you like and the state of your budget. It's always possible to hit a discount chain and cheaply buy something "decorative" for your wall, but I'd like to make an impassioned plea for buying "real" art.

By "real" art I mean pieces, of whatever kind, that a fellow human put real thought and skill into making. But I'm not snobby: "real" art could be an oil painting, but it could also be a striking piece of mass produced graphic design like an album cover, an advertisement, or a band's flyer. If it pleases you, almost anything can be serve as art - a rusty gear, a weathered wooden object, a water-washed stone... Find beauty or meaning.

The great blessing for thrifty art lovers is that beauty is surprisingly often... free.

When you DO have cash for art - support an artist! Buy art from a dealer or the artist themselves

Books on Collecting Art - (On the Cheap)

Who says only the rich get to enjoy art? Who says artists have to starve?

Go and buy real art!

I think the secret to buying art is to NOT think of it as investing... Buy things you love to look at. Maybe, over time, you might concentrate on particular types of art or artists and collect seriously - with some idea that your collection might become worth more. But that's just a side effect of collecting what you love. Art adds a lot to daily life.

Fine Art on eBay

Let's see what eBay is offering today...

Save $

Frame your art yourself.

It's Not That Hard DIY Picture Frames

Ready-made frames can be expensive, but often go on sale (check Hobby Lobby!), and are available at discount and thrift stores. Thrift stores are a great source for a single sometimes beautiful frame. IKEA is a good source for plain frames, especially if you need several that match. And dollar stores can be sources for frames when you need many smallish matching ones - the hard part is finding simple (non-ugly) designs; then buy twenty! Replace their "art" with yours. This works at big box stores too - it's often cheaper to by bad art with good frames than empty frames.

Obviously very cheap thrift store frames will not have beautiful wood or carving - are probably nasty plastic - but paint them all black or white or nursery-color and it hardly matters. If you're framing contemporary art, paint them glossy red!

What stymies many decorators from framing art themselves is matting - how to cut the mat? But it's not such a problem. Either:

1) buy pre-cut mats, usually white or cream

2) ask the staff at the frame or hobby shop to cut you a mat to fit your art and cheap frame, or

3) DON'T mat the print, just float it on a background of mat board (voila! no cutting, at least none not hidden by the frame itself)

There are other options, like unusual materials (why not thin paper you CAN comfortably cut?) or sandwiching the print between the glass "framelessly" (store-boughten kit or rigged up from glass and plate hanging gizmos).

The Barcelona Chair by Mies (mostly) read more at this link
The Barcelona Chair by Mies (mostly) read more at this link

Sales

One of the best ways to buy exactly what you want in the way of furnishings is to find it at the expensive place... then wait until it goes on sale.

If we're talking about high-end furniture or lighting, the sale price may still be a real stretch to afford (25% off of "Insane" is still "mildly-crazy"), but for a very special, much-coveted piece that might be worthwhile. Some of these stores have yearly or bi-yearly sales that may cut their usual prices dramatically. And some of the fancy stores have off-price outlets where you can get a better deal year-round.

Many of the most delux furnishings are still only available through "To The Trade" showrooms which won't let ordinary buyers in without an interior designer or an architect as an escort . If you have any designer friends, ask them to handle the purchase for you for free. If you don't, you could approach an interior designer and explain courteously, right up front, that all you want is for them to handle the purchase of item X for a minimal fee: they may agree. No bargain here and, again, such "To the Trade" items are VERY EXPENSIVE, so you'd have to really really want it.

Many of these showrooms - like Knoll with it's classic modernist furniture - do have a yearly sale for designers. (Designers can't afford the stuff either!) The modern furniture store Design Within Reach (which is, it turns out, named for its policy of letting buyers in without designer escort, rather than for its particularly low prices) has a summer yard sale.

Big Box - Off Price

You know these stores, the ones that sell quantities of new goods that, for some reason, didn't sell well elsewhere - over-runs, unpopular, over-ordered or discontinued models - or that sell items in such bulk (or so designed) that prices are rock-bottom. Among them are Big Lots, Tuesday Morning, Garden Ridge, and Ross Dress for Less (also Accessorize for Less!). Make a habit of looking for home furnishings at what are primarily other kinds of stores: clothing, garden, fabric, or craft stores. Price and value can be surprising. (Good surprise or bad!)

Off-price box stores can be good places to find originally expensive goods at much reduced prices. Depending on your taste and what you're hunting, you can sometimes find one lonely fabulous object that no one else understands... that you love... at a great deal.

The reigning king of low-cost big box stores is the Great Big BLUE Box of IKEA. Here the low price is designed into the product at its birth by very clever designers. Breakdown for easier, cheaper shipping and customer home assembly are part of this store's ethos. It gives you, the buyer, real value for your money. IKEA designs are always reasonably priced, well thought out, and handsome looking in a mildly Scandinavian and often, but not always, Modern style.

factory from wikimediacommons
factory from wikimediacommons

Factory Outlet Stores

Since "Outlet Malls" got popular, a lot of stores use the "outlet" word without being what I'd call a real factory outlet... originally a rare (one per factory!) store to sell greatly discounted over-runs, slightly imperfect, or otherwise unshippable goods. Nowadays it usually just means last season's at some discount. Still a savings.

Frankly, I've never found particularly terrific deals on anything I really wanted, but you might, especially if you're looking for china or kitchenware.

image from imagefree.org
image from imagefree.org

Scratch and Dent

Now here is where the diligent thrift shopper can really save! Almost any store has a Bargain Bin - a shelf or corner where floor models or damaged goods are sold at a reduced price. You'll soon figure out which places barely mark down merchandise (however badly wounded!) and which price to move.

Carefully study the wear on a floor model or the damage and decide whether it truly matters to you or it effects performance. On appliances, for instance, a shallow dent in the side of a washing machine... who's ever going to see it? These sales are AS IS. This is when your preparations - measurements, color samples, etc. - help you, because these deals are one-off and snatched up fast. You have to decide on the spot and, if you want it, buy it immediately.

Sears has a few special stores around the country for damaged appliances - if you live near one, you can find great deals. Every IKEA store has an area near checkout with discounted or damaged goods. Hobby Lobby can have reductions of 90% on end of season, damaged items. (Many still overpriced - what good a garden gnome with no head? Unless you happen to need a garden gnome with no head.) Closely related is the Oops! paint shelf at most home centers or paint stores, where someone's mistake might be your living room wall...

at half price.

Save $

Embrace the imperfect.

silver dollar, wikimedia
silver dollar, wikimedia

Dollar Stores

I tend to avoid these... To my mind much of the merchandise isn't worth even that dollar. NEVER buy a dollar store screwdriver, for instance, because its cheap metal tip is softer than the screws it tries to turn! Be sure to go into a dollar store knowing the usual price elsewhere for the item you're hunting... I've seen dollar stores mark things UP to that dollar.

But you can sometimes find good looking glassware or other household objects and these are good sources for those simple straw beach mats, which can make good wall-covering.

I have the best luck in finding unusual things at Mom-n-Pop dollar stores, rather than the chains.

thrift shop sign borrowed from Thrify Tips
thrift shop sign borrowed from Thrify Tips

Thrift Stores provide rich pickings and good deals for thrifty home decorators.

Thrift Stores

Addictively fun playgrounds for the value shopper.

The trick is to discover the best thrift stores in your area for the type of goods you want (many only carry clothes or only trashy furniture), then return often. DEALS SELL FAST. Thrift store shopping is

See It / Buy It shopping - things can sell while you stand there making up your mind, so you must be prepared and ready to pounce.

At the same time, you need to simply stroll, with no particular goal, and just see what you see. This, for me, is the most fun... that strolling survey just to take in today's catch and discover, perhaps, a Dali print, an Italian Deruta plate, a '60s flower pot, or a strange steampunk clock.

The obvious danger to thrift shopping is that you will feel a need to "rescue" some object that deserves better than this fate... that deserves a loving home... whether you need it or not! I suspect a lot of antique and collectible dealers start out this way.

Oh! And remember that thrift stores usually benefit good causes, so please buy FROM them, but also remember to donate gently used clothing and household goods TO them. Here's an opportunity to volunteer your time as well.

Save $

Visit a thrift store every day.

Links on Thrift Store Shopping

There is definitely a learning curve in starting to thrift shop. Really looking hard at the merchandise, for one thing, since everything is sold As Is. Here are some other sites that offer hints.

Books on Thrift Store Shopping

Guide books to the world of decorating from thrift stores.

Charity from wpclipart.com, modified
Charity from wpclipart.com, modified

Charity

Thrift stores are often run by or for charities.

There are also some specifically home-builder stores that raise money for charity, like the Habitat for Humanity stores which sell donated building supplies, lighting, hardware, or doors etc. at reduced prices, with profits supporting their home building program. This is a great first place to look for lighting fixtures since often have good deals on brand-new styles - and you know your purchase helps support good works.

Consignment Stores

Occasional good deals, but largely over-priced, I think. The folks putting their castoffs in the consignment store often have an optimistic idea of its worth and are in a get-rich! kind of mood. Then again, there can be bargains. You just have to look and keep looking. But you'll soon learn which stores are overly proud of their merchandise and which convince their consignees to be reasonable in pricing.

A sub-section of consignment stores are the ones that specialize in estate sale pieces... the things that didn't sell at the house, but are often beautiful pieces that just need the right buyer.

Liquidators

Hotel, restaurant, and office liquidators are great sources for sturdy, good quality beds, tables, chairs, and desks at sometimes incredible prices. Office liquidators have many pieces of furniture suitable for a home office. Restaurant liquidators sell used tables and chairs plus some serving pieces and buffets etc. Think about all the furniture in a hotel: beds and bedroom furniture, of course, but also desks and desk chairs, lobby furniture, sometimes even pool and patio furniture...

If you happen to be looking for an amoire or a cabinet in which to hide a home office, a hotel liquidator will have hundreds! of cabinets that used to hold old deep-style TVs... priced to sell. Wish I needed one because the bargains are amazing.

Japanese noren door curtain
Japanese noren door curtain

Specialty Suppliers

Restaurant supply companies, for instance, can be great sources for reasonably priced - and very durable! - kitchen and dining gear. Find a company that supplies, say, Japanese restaurants and you may also find all sorts of interesting decorative goods too, like those beautifully graphic Japanese fabric doorway curtains called noren or those happy, waving Lucky Cats.

Noren from Amazon

These Japanese door curtains are beautiful and often very graphic. What a nice way to add a little more separation between spaces, when you don't really want to close a door.

Fabric Warehouse
Fabric Warehouse

Fabric Outlets

Fun, fun, fun! And you can - if you find the right place - discover beautiful upholstery fabric for as low as 2 $/yd. (Get on your favorite place's mailing list - the yearly Super Sale may make that 99 cents a yard.)

Most towns have some sort of fabric store and these generally run frequent sales, but what you really want is a great big barn of a discount fabric warehouse where you can find remnants, the ends of bolts, and over-run fabrics. The best places are often wholesale/retail places...

These joints may have funny rules like minimum purchases or no credit cards.

Save $

Buy discount fabrics.

Antique store in Funks Grove, public domain
Antique store in Funks Grove, public domain

Antique (Junk) Stores

The junkier the shop the better the prices... unless they just want you to think that. Whenever you shop for antiques or collectibles, you need to have a feeling for market prices and a nose for the real versus the erzatz. While there can be deals there can also be rip-offs. If you get to know the folks at your favorite store, you can sometimes bargain the price down.

Ye Olde Anitque-y Junque shops can be entrancing places to shop, with some very good deals. Another visit-often sort of shop, since stock changes constantly and it's one of a kind merchandise.

Books on Buying Budget Antiques

Advice from experts.

Antiques on a Budget.
Antiques on a Budget.

Antique just means "old" not always "expensive."

 

Estate Sales

A little sad, these sales when someone downsizes their home or an estate is liquidated - some buyers just can't cope with the feeling of mortality. But the deals can be lively. Depending on the estate, there may be very beautiful furnishings selling for very reasonable prices and sometimes, if the item is unpopular or bulky, for very low prices.

Family

NEW Section

How did I forget this GREAT source for FREE furniture?

See if your grandparents, parents,or siblings have any furniture or decorative items in their attics or garages they are willing to loan or give you.

Family furniture is usually free (can't get thriftier than that!). Often family hand-me-downs are useful, basic pieces that a lick of paint can refresh. Sometimes - if you wisely choose a wealthier relative - castoffs may be better than you can afford. Sometimes family pieces are old enough to qualify as "retro" (a charm your granny will usually be oblivious to), or more rarely, may be an heirloom with sentimental and historic value. Rockers that once rocked your parents as babies can rock your own newer babies: that's pretty special.

So ask around. Someone may give you a hand-made quilt or a '20s cabinet. But be sure - ask explicitly! - whether this furniture is a gift or a loan. Know whether you are the newest steward of a family treasure or just taking junk off someone's hands before you paint it!

Yard and Garage Sales

Most of us have done a little garage sale shopping - or thrown a few sales ourselves. These sales generally fall into two camps: the over-priced and the under-priced. Look for the latter!

A reader reminded me that you can get bigger bargains if you visit late in the day, at the end of the sale. Always try to dicker! And this reminded me that, if you want the greatest selection, you want to visit right as the sale opens... so maybe visit twice?

The Guide Book to Garage Sale Décor

I haven't gotten hold of this book yet, but it looks like EXACTLY the book we all need before launching ourselves out into the untamed yards and garages of the world.

I feel comfortable on the fix-it front and am good at spotting treasures, but since I've only done a modest amount of garage-sale-ing... a little advice on bargaining would help me. How about you?

Salvage Yards

salvage yard
salvage yard

Photo courtesy of Sharala at Blogaway

salvaged column, photo by Sharala
salvaged column, photo by Sharala

Salvage Yards

Architectural wrecking yards are tremendous fun and can be very useful to the home remodeler or decorator.

These places sell the rescued remains from wrecked buildings - both local and, sometimes, imported from castles in Europe or wherever. Prices tend to be high to crazy-high, but the humbler salvage yards can have good deals, especially on the less showy pieces.

Garden Nymph from publicdomainpictures.net
Garden Nymph from publicdomainpictures.net

Curb Trawling and Dumpster Diving

The title says it all: what treasure can you rescue from the curb - before the trash guys get it?

This May Be Illegal in Some Areas. Find out before you try.

The other caution is that furniture can be infested with pretty nasty insects (bedbug infestation?) or may harbor weird smells. Even for the theater, I stay away from upholstered goods. But a nice solid wood chair that just needs a little glue? Might be worthwhile. The concrete garden nymph was a fantastic find!

(Most recently I found a weathered cast-off swimming pool life ring - I wouldn't trust it with my life, but it'll look great on stage.)

By One of the Leading Decorators

With all her professional experience... Design on the cheap!

I own several books by this writer/designer and have always found her advice useful. (And the pictures inspiring.)

Where Do You Find Your Bargains?

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    • profile image

      Tarra99 5 years ago

      Thrift shops...only we call them "treasure stores"...cause the kids always find "treasures"...I love them!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      Thrift stores are addictive fun - I love 'em too.

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 5 years ago from Missouri

      Thrift stores are fun, but I really like going to garage and yard sales.

    • profile image

      marsha32 5 years ago

      This is one awesome lens! Even though it's a necessity, I love being thrifty.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @jtmcwill: If you know what the usual price would be, sometimes you can find great bargains! (Plus they're a lot of fun.)

    • profile image

      poutine 5 years ago

      I find my bargains at garage sales and flea markets.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @poutine: I hear great things about garage sale deals, but never seem to have free time early on Saturday or Friday, when the pickings are best. But you've reminded me that I really need to!

    • KarenTBTEN profile image

      KarenTBTEN 5 years ago

      I get things from thrift stores... and sometimes the laundry room downstairs. There's a free stuff area in my apartment building. People shed stuff because they're moving out, going cross-country... or sometimes just because. SquidAngel blessings.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I visit thrift stores on half off day and am a friend of dumpster diving/curbside collecting when I see something good. I agree about staying away from used upholstered goods. I even sold an item to a set designer last week for a TV show! I guess I'm a good picker!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @Scarlettohairy: You must indeed be a good picker - I once found then sold a piece to an antique store... and felt like I earned a "Good Picker" badge! Thanks for visiting.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @KarenTBTEN: I love the free stuff area - what a good idea. Thank you for both the visit and the blessing.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @curious0927: You really CAN find great frames at the thrifts - especially if you plan to touch them up or modify them. I love the idea of carrying your daughter's works' dimensions with you!

    • Dimplefree profile image

      Dimplefree 5 years ago

      Thrift shops, I'm an addict

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 5 years ago from USA

      I love a good bargain especially when it comes to something old. I have found treasures at yard sales, flea markets, Goodwill, Salvation Army, the side of the road, the woods, dumpsters, and neighbors' garbage! I always ask permission before taking something from someone's garbage. Even if they are obviously throwing it out, I would feel like I was stealing if I didn't ask permission first. When dumpster diving, I learned to wear thick gloves before handling anything to avoid nasty cuts and sticky grime! I enjoyed your lens on Thrifty Shipping for Home Décor!

    • dwnovacek profile image

      dwnovacek 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these awesome tips. My home is desperately in need of a makeover but I despaired of ever having the funds to give it one. Now I know some tricks! Angel Blessed!

    • Angelgirl1976 profile image

      Angelgirl1976 5 years ago

      I use charity shops and carboot sales. One mans rubbish is another mans treasure as they say. Good lens :)

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I have found stuff at garage sales, furniture store sales and sell outs, and loads (in fact, most of my home) from the paper... :) Blessed!

    • wheresthekarma profile image

      wheresthekarma 5 years ago

      I love this lens, Im going to pin it so i can find it again!

    • profile image

      myamya 5 years ago

      Very nice lens well done! squidlikes!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Great information on way more bargain shopping places than I ever knew about... :)

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @Retro Loco: Gloves are a great ideas! (So would be a tetanus shot, actually.) Thanks for visiting.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @dwnovacek: Makeovers can be mostly painting, rearranging furniture, just a few new things, and fresh paint plus maybe a little fresh fabric for pillows or chair seats... Pretty thrifty! Thanks for the visit and blessing.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @miaponzo: Thank you all for the visits, comments, "likes" and blessings!

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      I miss garage sales and tag sales in America; I live in Britain now and we just have car boot sales which are rather like flea markets and auctions. Occasionally there is a sale at someone's home, but that's pretty rare. This is a really good, useful lens- inspiring!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 5 years ago from New York

      This is a fabulous lens with wonderful images! You have put a lot of time & effort into it and it shows! I think you have covered everything. I love remaking furniture from cast off finds! It is one of my favorite boards on pinterest too! Pinned and *Squid Angel Blessed*. I also added it to My Squid Angel Blessings 2012 to the "Home & Garden » Home Décor" neighborhood.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @Kailua-KonaGirl: Thank you so much for your visit and your encouragement! Budget and thrifty shopping and decorating can be a lot of fun - a creative challenge.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 5 years ago

      @ismeedee: Thanks for the info on car boot sales - I added a mention in my Lens above. Thanks for visiting.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      I love going to antique stores.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I frequent a local hospital thrift shop where I've found several fun treasures.

    • profile image

      Serena2402 4 years ago

      I think that thrift shops for decorating ideas is great idea especially for some one who doesn't have a lot of money to spend on decorating and you can also find great deals and maybe even some good ideas.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 4 years ago

      @Serena2402: Oh yeah! You can find all sorts of design ideas at thrift shops! Thanks for visiting.

    • Mary Stephenson profile image

      Mary Stephenson 4 years ago from California

      I got cheap glass vases at thrift stores. I etch on them and use colored wax varnishes to bring out the designs. Look like expensive one of a kind vase.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 4 years ago

      @Mary Stephenson: What a great idea - they sound fascinating! Thrift stores are good sources for "found" bases for art work. Thanks for visiting.

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 4 years ago

      I shop a a second hand store operated by a humanitarian organization. People (including me) donate all kinds of stuff. The shop sell at very low prices. All who work there work for free. The money is given to those who are in need.

      All are winners!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 4 years ago

      @askformore lm: Thanks for reminding me to stress the Helping aspect of thrift stores. I'm going to add a reminder not just to shop at them, but to donate to them.

    • VictoriaKelley profile image

      VictoriaKelley 4 years ago

      2nd hand stores and charity shops are one of my favorite places to go. I see an old chair or side table and in my head I can see a new look on an old piece. Co-Ops are another favorite place supporting hand crafts and consignment items.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 4 years ago

      @VictoriaKelley: Co-Ops are a good idea! We don't seem to have many around here, so I forgot about 'em. Thanks for visiting.

    • Jillynn profile image

      Jillynn 4 years ago

      I rescued two antique chairs off a curb in Jersey City and had them recovered. They are gorgeous. Very nice lens!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 4 years ago

      @Jillynn: It is Amazing what people throw away! Your chairs sound like a great find. Thanks for visiting.

    • CamelliaPenny profile image

      Perrin 4 years ago from South Carolina

      I like to shop at Tuesday Morning, Tomlinson's, Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall's Home Goods, plus the Clearance sections of Target. I love consignment sales, too - the local ones at our church and school. Nice lens!

    • Flowerchild1946 profile image

      Carol Brooks 4 years ago from Florida

      Found objects is my favorite type of shopping. Great lens!

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 4 years ago

      @Flowerchild1946: I love "finding" things too! Thanks for visiting.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 4 years ago

      @CamelliaPenny: I don't know Tomlinson's, but I love clearance sections too. Some great deals now and then. Thanks for visiting!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      I was afraid that you were going to overlook the best source of decorating: off the street but then I got a glimpse of your fantastic angel. Pinned to my thrifty living board. If you want to do garage selling the end of the day will change even the silliest of salespeople, and plus don't hesitate to bargain.

    • cdevries profile image
      Author

      cdevries 3 years ago

      @Gypzeerose: Thanks for reminding me about the end-of-day and dickering ideas. If you don't mind, I'll add those to this page. Thanks so much for visiting.

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