I remember how exciting it was when my wife and I bought our first home. Walking into that old farm house was overwhelming. How will we ever fill this place up?
As we moved in it became readily apparent that we didn’t have nearly enough time, money or furniture to fill this house. The need to frugally decorate became our reality.
Initially our living room had a love seat and some camp chairs…. Shit. Now what? We certainly didn’t make a lot of money and buying a lot of new furniture wasn’t option.
The thought of decorating was instantly overwhelming…
Luckily, I’m married to one of the most frugal lady’s alive. My wife decorated that house with some amazing furniture and we barely had to break out the debt card!
If you’re currently standing in your first home or apartment and having a similar “Oh Shit” moment, fear not! We’re here to talk about luxurious frugality!
Frugally Decorate Tip # 1: Auctions
To frugally decorate your home, you absolutely need to start with auctions. You may be thinking “I don’t want someone’s old garbage”.
I know you’re thinking that because I used to think that, but I never knew what an auction was.
Estate sales are when a family has hired an auctioneer to come in and sell the possessions of a loved one who may have recently passed, or can no longer care for the property.
One piece of advice: Not ALL auctions are made the same.
Auctions can range in size, items, and general set-up. Knowing what you’re looking for is important to help you hone in on that perfect find.
Auctionzip is a website that allows you to search auctions based on your zip code. Typically, there are photos of the items that will be up for auction which is a huge advantage.
You won’t have to waste your time travelling to auctions on a hope and prayer that the item you want is in quality condition.
Like when you think you’ve found that perfect second hand love seat, and you rush to the auction only to find out that you’re at the house of the local cat hoarder… whose kitties enjoyed the luxuries of indoor living. There aren’t even enough lint rollers around, trust me.
One tip to avoid these situations would be to find a reputable auctioneer. Some unfortunately are just terrible and sell dirty, or broken items. You won’t necessarily know this right away, but travelling to enough auctions will give you the gift to pick out the bad eggs pretty quickly.
Once you find a reputable auctioneer you’ll want to filter your Auctionzip search to their events and avoid the ones who aren’t the best… And hey, you’re sure to make some friends during your auction adventures who would surely give you the 411 on the auction hot spots.
Auctionzip also allows you to search to specific items.
For example, if you’re searching for a frugal kitchen table, you can search this and see what auctions are selling items that you’re looking for in your zip code! Imagine that, you can frugally decorate your home with inexpensive hand made, high quality furniture! (mind blown)
We lived in an area with a large Amish population and those auctions were amazing. Items that folks pay thousands of dollars for could go for less than $100!!
Be sure to get to the auction early. You’ll want to get signed in quickly, and get a good seat up front. These fill up FAST with the auctioning professionals, so don’t lolly-gag.
Once you’re signed in and have some good seats secured, start to look the items over. You should be able to physically inspect any item up for auction.
I’ve been to some auctions though where the auctioneers will prohibit you from looking at certain items once the auction starts….that’s bull and a quick way to get on my auction shit list.
Don’t be afraid to get dirty… these sales don’t come with a return policy. So, look over any item you’re interested in and make sure you’re buying something that’s worth the money. Trying to be frugal isn’t worth it if you’re constantly buying broke crap…
Dig through the boxes, look under the moth-ridden mink shawl, and you could be looking at a first edition copy of Charlotte’s Web…JACKPOT.
Finally, make sure you know exactly how much you’re willing to pay for the item. If someone is bidding against you, it can get emotional and you want to “win”. DO NOT OVER PAY! Winning is getting the item you want for under your maximum budget.
Don’t be afraid to approach someone who won the box of items you wanted. Maybe Aunt Betty only wanted the crocheted princess tissue holder in her winning box, and she’d be glad to sell you the antique door knobs in the lot for a fraction of the price.
Frugally decorating your home may involve some wheeling and dealing, but hey… it’ll save you thousands and you didn’t need that damn tissue holder anyway!
Frugally Decorate Tip #2: Thrift Stores
My wife loves thrift store shopping. She appears to get some kind of rush by frugally decorating our home… I don’t blame her, she’s found some amazing items for some crazy prices over the years.
Some of the more common thrift stores in our area include Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Thrift-N-Save. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the pleasing variety of second hand stores out there!
Larger stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army run weekly specials. Sometimes they offer discounts to seniors, or students on different days of the week. You can save on the already discounted items by following their promotions!
We didn’t purchase a lot of furniture from these stores, but a lot of our home accessories came from thrift stores. There is nothing against purchasing furniture second hand, since these stores are obligated to sanitize and launder their items before selling them.
Picture frames are some of my favorite finds at thrift stores. Take that old sun-bleached picture of a cottage out of the frame and replace it with a family portrait!
Old windows also make for a really cool way to displace pictures. Another awesome idea is repurposing old men’s flannel shirts into pillow covers for pillows!
If you’re able to sew this is a great way to add life back into pillows that you already own!
Another perk of thrift store shopping is knowing your money is going to help a good cause.
Frugally Decorate Tip #3: Online Buying
Everyone has heard of Craigslist, but Facebook Market Place and Let Go have stormed onto the online buying and selling scene.
Before you start searching any other platform (auctions, thrift stores), you absolutely must check these online sites first.
There are so many free items available it’s insane. Folks need to move quickly and are willing to give something away rather than the perceived hassle of trying to sell.
Sure, some of the items will need some TLC, but elbow grease is free!
After you’ve exhausted the free search, start expanding your search around your home. If you’re willing to drive, you’ll have more options.
We typically did a 50 mile search radius around our home. This included a few major cities and also a lot of rural communities.
When exploring Craigslist and Facebook, don’t be afraid to offer a lower price than what’s advertised. Don’t be a lowballing jerk, but also don’t just pay what’s advertised. Most folks will offer a price that’s actually a bit higher than what they expect to get.
Make a decent offer and see how it goes. If the price is too high, move on… there will be more opportunities for deals tomorrow.
Frugally Decorate Tip #4: Second Hand
I have some mixed emotions on this one… When we bought our first home, it seemed like everyone was overly willing to give us everything!
Little did we know that that willingness was a 50/50 mix of them loving us and them wanting to get rid of their unwanted stuff!
We laugh about it now, but we sure did acquire a lot of stuff back then. Way more than we actually needed…
With that being said, getting items second hand is free. Free is always good! Back then we had enough stuff to fill a 500 square foot apartment, but we owned a two story farm house.
With a lot of rooms to fill, we didn’t know what to do… Luckily, we received a lot of furniture for free to help fill the space.
After some painting and refinishing, it looked as though we had a house full of brand new furniture!
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t pass up the opportunity for something free. If you don’t need it, you can sell it later and use that cash to put toward something you do want.
There are a few avenues to acquire some free hand me downs. One is looking online like we talked about earlier. Second is letting your friends and family know you’re moving and looking for home décor.
The second avenue will probably open the flood gates of “Oh, I’ve got a few things you can have.” Be prepared for that onslaught, because… it’s coming! They say they’re trying to help you frugally decorate, but they might be cleaning our their attic!
We certainly weren’t too picky back then. It’s hard to entertain in camp chairs, or so my wife says.
Again, some of these items might need some elbow grease, but with just a little bit of work and paint they can become a uniquely beautiful piece.
Frugally Decorate Tip #5: Refinishing
I know I’ve been bragging on my wife, and I’m not going to stop now! She’s a magician with old furniture or home décor. I’m not sure if she has always been this way, or if the fact we were in a crazy amount of debt caused the need to be frugal…
Either way, she can find a way to turn even the ugliest item into a unique masterpiece.
For under $10, you can completely redo a piece of furniture. Here’s how…
Start at your local hardware store. If you’re in the need for some paint, check the section where they keep the clearance paints or “mis-tints”.
A “mis-tint” doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with the paint, rather the paint was not mixed to the customer’s liking and is offered to other customers for a discounted price.
You can get this paint at up to 75% off… OR MORE! Grab some cheap sand paper, brushes and you’re on your way.
A few coats of paint, some sanding, and BAM…you’ve got an antiqued piece of custom furniture.
We completely redid our entire bedroom set for under $20. It looks better now than the day I bought it 15 years ago! Our style is more “rustic”… but repurposing can work for any type of style!
The best thing about repurposing items is making it totally your own. A truly unique piece for your home.
Buying a home is a pretty stressful time… you’re going to sign a thousand papers and assume a pretty hefty monthly payment for the next 15 to 30 years.
You might feel a little nauseous, totally normal. After we bought our first home I felt a little sick as I signed the closing documents.
It’s a big deal, and A LOT of money.
Don’t let decorating your home be as stressful, or as expensive. You can find some one-of-a-kind pieces close to your home.
Add in a little elbow grease, a splash of creativity, and bingo bongo… You’re set!
What ways do you frugally decorate your home? Let us know in the comments!
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