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Scrimp or splurge on home furnishings

By on August 25, 2010

Moving can be exciting and stressful. Whether it’s your first apartment or a move into a new-to-you home, you’ll be tempted to buy new furnishings and home decor. Many interior decorating accents and solutions can be either handmade projects or purchased secondhand. Maybe your budget has room to splurge a bit. You can combine and mix styles as well as low-end and high-end elements without looking cheap. What items do you think you should spend and save on to furnish a new place?
Here are a few suggestions.



Some of your larger anchor pieces, such as couches, dining or kitchen tables, mattresses and bed frames, can be more high-end items. Excluding mattresses, there are plenty of deals to be found at estate sales, antique stores, in classified ads, retail furniture clearance sales, hand-me-downs from family, etc. One reader, Carla from Canada, shares: “I felt we should buy a quality couch, as it is something that gets a lot of use and should last a long time. I also felt it was worth paying extra if needed to get something that was actually comfortable to sit on. We bought a solid wood entertainment center, too. I would never get a cheap particle board one again, as we wasted so much money on replacing ones that bent and fell apart.”


Curtains can be found secondhand, bought cheap or made yourself. Tab or grommet panels and valances are a cheap option. Or sew some straight panels from fabric that can be bought secondhand or on sale at a fabric store. Another reader, Kim from Alabama, adds: “I have a twin-size flat sheet as a curtain on my bedroom window. It’s pulled back and fastened with a decorative drapery tie with tassel. The fitted sheet I used to cover two long pillows to make a padded headboard for my bed that sits right on top of the mattresses. I have just a Hollywood frame and didn’t want to spend the money for a wooden headboard. Now the curtains and the headboard match. It works for me since the set of sheets was used and was given to me! The pillows for the headboard were ‘salvaged’ foam sofa cushion cut to the desired size.”


Consider furniture that has a dual purpose, such as chests that can be used as storage and a table. A large dresser can be used for clothes, as a makeshift buffet, in the garage as a potting bench or to hold miscellaneous tools, in a mudroom to hold winter gear, as a TV stand, or to hold games, craft supplies or books. Another reader, Jen D., shares: “I took an old dresser from my childhood and turned it into a media stand. I took out the top two drawers, popped out their bottoms and used the bottoms as the shelf in the newly vacated space. My DVD player sat there so it could pick up a signal from the remote. As for the drawers themselves (what was left of them), I took the handles off and hung them nearby on the wall as square shelves that held two small speakers and a small knickknack. A quick repaint in soft white and I had a beautiful little entertainment center!”


Artwork can be made cheaply. Use photos, make collages or shadow boxes from keepsakes. Frame children’s art, vintage greeting cards, fabric or handkerchiefs. Scan and frame book illustrations, or make your own silhouette art (visit Check arts and crafts shows and festivals for low-cost artwork, too.

photo by somegeekintn


  1. Kellie

    8/27/2010 at 1:30 pm

    This article could not have come at a better time.

  2. Cynde Powell

    9/6/2010 at 1:46 pm

    I love reading about how to save money. Especially when it comes to redecorating. I love having a beautiful and comfortable home. It makes me happy to spend time in a home that feels happy too. I love thrift stores and joined clubs like Freecycle where you can give stuff away and get free stuff too. It’s a great and cheap way to declutter and redecorate at the same time. Happy Savings Everyone.

  3. cuteoldlady

    9/15/2010 at 4:32 pm

    I invested in a couch I absolutely LOVE, and it was shipped to me! is wonderful, you have to check it out. The couches, chairs and ottomans have built in storage, and I can order a specific piece if my dogs (5 – yes five) chew up a cushion,or even the “base” part, I just order that particular section and not have a ratty couch anymore. Not to mention the storage capacity!!!! And the customer service in amazing – a LIVE person right away. I rank my couch up there with my land, house, and vehicles as one of the BEST investments I have ever done.

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