Got an Ikea budget, but Broyhill taste? Well, no need to sit on folding chairs my friends! Follow my fabulous tips for finding fantastic furniture for frugal fees!
Universal Tips: Regardless of where you find that perfect piece always think LOGISTICS! How are you going to get that furniture home? I have fallen victim to my poor spatial awareness more than once and I can tell you there’s not always going to be a person with a mini van milling around that is willing to help you. U-haul (see link below) is the tried and true name in vehicle rental and you can usually get one in most major cities and suburbs with no more than an hour or two worth of notice. Home Depot (see link below) will also conveniently rent tucks of various sizes from pick ups to moving vans. A friend with a truck, van, CRV, etc. who is willing to be on call to help you in return for beer is a great asset to have. But, wherever you decide to get your moving vehicle from make sure your rental is cost effective. If you had to rent a truck for a hundred dollars to move a five dollar dresser- was that really a win?
How are you going to lift and carry the item? Is your friend with the truck that works for beer also willing to help you lift your item? Can it be taken apart and moved in smaller pieces? Do you have the tools with you you to do this? Did you invest in or rent (see link below) a foldable dolly cart? Believe it or not, those ‘as seen on TV’ straps that go on your forearms (the forearm forklift) are another option and they do actually work!
Most resale shops will have some strapping young backs stashed around to assist you in loading your new couch or table or whatever. Sometimes homeowners are just so happy to be getting rid of unwanted items they will be more than willing to help you load your purchase. BUT, you may not always get lucky. Maybe the home owner is elderly; maybe there is only one clerk working in the store and they can’t leave the register to help you load your item. In these cases it is always prudent to have a ‘plan B’ in mind.
Final Random thoughts: Did you bring some bungie cords or twine? Did you bring some towels or blankets to keep finishes from getting scratched? Please don’t attempt to tie or fasten large items of furniture to the roof of your compact car….it will NEVER end well. Alight, so now you are all pre-gamed and ready to transport your treasures home. Where are you going to find them?
Garage Sales: I don’t usually find a lot of large furniture at garage sales for some reason, but they are a great place to score some of the smaller items. Bar stools, TV trays, kids toy storage racks, shoe racks, end tables, and even some futons are fair game. Keep in mind that some of this stuff may be a bit on the ratty side. Most people selling at garage sales are ‘getting rid of the old to bring in the new’. So if you are looking to furnish a wreck room or basement or are willing to put some elbow grease into cleaning items this your first stop.
Moving Sales: These are GREAT places to find loads of good quality furniture at ‘I just want to get rid of it so I don’t have to move it’ prices! Most of this stuff is in pretty decent shape. The homeowner might not even want to get rid of it, but the cost to move it is prohibitive.
Estate Sales: Now we’re talking designer ticket items and bargain basement prices! Especially if someone has passed away in a more affluent area. These items will be in pristine shape because, let’s face it, if the person hadn’t died they would still be using it. Most likely the families don’t want to pay to move or store the items so they are willing to let them go for a song and a dance. Morbid, I know, but true.
Farmer’s Market: I know what you’re thinking- furniture at a farmer’s market? It is rare, but the Geneva farmer’s market has a clever little antique store across the street from it that always seems to be having a side walk sale that coincides with the farmer’s market. Occasionally you will come across a vendor that makes and sells furniture. Keep in mind the style may be more Amish or Rustic and the price tag may be a little steeper as it was hand crafted.
Flea Markets: The Kane County flea market is a veritable sea of furniture finds! You can find hand made and custom made furniture, vintage/antique pieces, and some really unique hybrid items like the couple that takes old sewing machine stands and repurposes them into end tables.
Antique Stores: Again, you are going to find more retro or unique pieces here. I find that antique stores out in the middle of nowhere tend to have lower prices than those in cities and around tourist areas- not always the case, but something to keep in mind.
Resale Shops: This is kind of your ‘one stop shop’ for furniture. You can find a ratty couch for the basement for a dollar or you can find a beautiful antique end table for five. Keep in mind you may have to be ready to give the item a thorough cleaning or a paint or finish touch up.
Online: Sometimes you can find some great furniture for free or at a very reduced price if someone doesn’t want to move it, store it, or mess around with selling it. You can find these listings on: Craig’s list (old school), Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up. Offer Up even has options to have items shipped, but the fee for shipping heavier items can be pretty steep. Just be wary of who you are meeting up with on these sites. Most listings are legit, but I still try not to go to pick items up alone. At the very least, I will tell someone else where I’m going and what time I will be back.
Curbside: Sometimes you get lucky and find a gorgeous piece out by the curb on garbage night. We have friends (the ones that own a truck and work for beer) that just make it a habit to drive around every garbage night to see what they can find. That’s how we scored a Barbie four wheeler power wheels for my daughter and our snow blower. Curbside items that should be left at the curbside: mattresses and area rugs. Let’s just say I’m not a fan of weird stains and the possibility of fleas and bed bugs that may be hitching a ride. Pick up plush items like couches with caution. Friends of mine got a free pair of dirty boxer shorts with their free couch!
With all these tips in mind- happy furnishing and decorating!