As a fervent fanatic of West Elm, CB2, and Room & Board, I admit I have expensive taste in home furnishings and accessories. I dream of solid wood furniture I can’t afford and adorable little appetizer plates I don’t need. And thanks to some thrifty tactics, I can have my cake stand and afford to eat too! All on a meager salary.
Here are the best resources for scoring luxe household goods on a twenty-something’s budget.
Thrift stores are for boring stuff
Although I’ll share secrets for getting fancy stuff on the cheap, the wares you desire won’t ever be dirt cheap. Which means you’ll have to cut corners elsewhere. You might as well do it by picking up basics at the thrift store. As I’ve stated previously, you should immediately find a local thrift store, get a membership, and commit the sale days to memory. I’m a religious shopper of Unique Thrift, that offers 25 percent off all merchandise every Friday.
What to look for
- Small appliances: Think slow cookers, microwaves, coffee makers, blenders, and George Foreman grills. People often donate their old appliances when they upgrade, and you can score most gadgets for less than $20. I bought my waffle iron from a thrift store for $3.50! Be sure to plug them in at the store, to make sure they work before you buy.
- Cookware: I know, those gleaming pots and pans staring back at you from the Crate and Barrel catalog are lovely. But they won’t stay gorgeous through the years, and you’ll likely store them out of sight. Give used pots and pans a chance, and you can save big. Obtain a mismatched set of cookware for $20-40, and enjoy the benefits of having the perfect sized pan, every time.
Craigslist is for anything and everything
Do me a favor. The next time you spot a sofa that’s way out of your price range, try searching it on Craigslist. Chances are, someone near you is selling a similar model, for a fraction of the cost. Don’t forget to barter with the seller, as they’ll rarely let a buyer walk away over a measly fifty bucks. And always be safe when visiting Craigslist sellers by bringing a friend.
What to look for
- Furniture: I recently purchased a Room & Board dining table with four chairs and two stools for $400 (Originally $1500). And deals like that are common! It may be a hassle to transport larger pieces, but the savings are more than worth it.
- Rugs: Heavier textiles like rugs may seem vastly overpriced, but a quality rug is well worth the investment: it will last for years longer than cheap rugs from Target or Wal Mart. Get an upscale brand, used, for half the cost of a cheaper model.
- Select electronics: Although electronics are getting ever cheaper, you can easily spend hundreds on larger items. Craigslist sellers often upgrade their TV, stereo equipment, DVD player, and gaming console, then sell their gently used stuff. Again, be sure the item works before purchasing.
Buy accessories new
Now that you’ve scrimped and saved to furnish your home, you deserve that overpriced accessory that you can’t live without. But be sure to subscribe to emails from your favorite retailers to get special deals.
What to look for
- Dinnerware: Go ahead and order that gorgeous set of elegant bowls, plates, and mugs. Indulge in those sturdy wine glasses. You have my permission to buy the occasional pretty serving piece. These are items you’ll use every day, so they should bring you joy.
- Throw pillows: I personally don’t understand the utility of throw pillows — they always end up on the floor in my house. But I understand that some folks buy them. Throw pillows are vastly overpriced, no matter where you shop. So just get the ones you love, and be done with it.
- Lighting: Try as I might, I have never been able to find reasonably-priced lamps and light fixtures to meet my standards. Discount models tend to look cheap. From my experience, the only manufacturer of quality light fixtures is West Elm, and you can expect to pay $200 for the right piece. I adore the lamps at CB2, too (no pun intended). Lighting is an essential component of any room, so drop real cash on it.
What are your secrets for decorating on a budget? And do you know where to score light fixtures and lamps at a discount? Tell me in the comments, or tweet me!