As much as I grew up on the idea of being non-materialistic, I won't lie to you: I love having nice things. But being that I am 20 years old and a full-time student with only a part-time job, paying rent and pleading with my mom to loan me twenty bucks for gas is a little higher on my priorities list than dropping a couple hundred dollars on the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale or buying a $1500 coffee table. Online shopping consists of hitting the "Shop from: Lowest to Highest" option on the drop down menu. And even then, I have to close out of the tab because I know I still don't need that pair of $5 socks from Forever21 or another coffee mug from Etsy.
About a year back, my parents told me they had bought another fixer-upper house and that once it was done I could rent it from them while I am in college. I was so excited! So excited, in fact, that two days later I went to the animal shelter and adopted a dog, because you can't have a house without a dog, right? My next stop was Homegoods, because I needed some wall art and wine glasses. Definitely responsible purchases.
Fast-forward a year, and the renovations are complete, I have (mostly) finished decorating, and it's finally time to move in! Somewhere along the way I had to realize that I can't spend all my money on wine glasses (bummer) because decorating a house is so much more than I ever imagined. I had to learn very quickly how to put furniture on the floor and art on the walls without winding up on the negative side of my bank account. Here are a few of the tips I learned along the way!
1. Furniture: Shop flea markets, garage sales, and family members homes.
There is not a single piece of furniture in my house that I bought new. Collectively, everything in my home probably cost about the same as one new couch. I got my iron bed frame, kitchen table & chair set and coffee table in Canton at their monthly flea market. My kitchen table and chairs were in a half-off booth and cost only $80. My farmhouse-window-pane-turned-coffee-table cost $40 after a little haggling. My bed frame (my favorite piece in my house!) we got for $125 after haggling it down from $200. Flea markets are also good for finding unique pieces- I guarantee you no one else I know will have the same bed or coffee table. Several of my end tables and lamps came from garage sales, every piece under $10. And there will always, always be friends and family who will give you furniture they are replacing for free. For years my mom has wanted a new couch, so I was the first to raise my hand and offer to take her old one off her hands. Let family know you are moving and in need of furniture, and you will be shocked at the things they offer up!
2. HomeGoods and Hobby Lobby are a Pinterest girl's best friend.
I love to daydream about having a nice house one day that is furnished like the ones popping up on my Pinterest feed. What a cute vase, I think to myself and click on the link. Oh, it's only $450! I don't even get paychecks with those kind of numbers on them. This leads me to why I love HomeGoods so much (almost as much as Target). HomeGoods carries very on-trend decor, very similar to expensive pieces I see online, for so. much. less. I got the gorgeous gold pineapple on my table at HG for only $15! They've also got really stylish kitchen basics (dish towels, silverware, serving bowls) for great prices.
Hobby Lobby is great because the entire store goes on sale for half off every week. If it's not on sale for half off one week, it's almost guaranteed it will be by the next week. I check their weekly ad every Sunday night to see what's on sale and then show up at 9am Monday morning to get what I want. I got all of my wall art (frames included!) for half off and under $16 for each print. My dalmatian pillows were half off for $11, and my dalmatian rug was only $10.
3. The Dollar Tree is your friend.
The Dollar Tree was great when we were five and our moms let us go in and pick out three things and we had to pick really wisely. Should we get a bag of candy, a nail polish, or a new hair towel wrap? The options were endless. And after that age it's almost like we forgot about the Dollar Tree entirely. Bad move: the DT was my absolute saving grace when it came to essentials for my house. I got so caught up in decorating and furniture that I forgot the necessities. I stocked my house with toilet paper, paper towels, plastic kitchenware, cleaning supplies, Kleenex and so much more all for under $30. A lot of times they carry overstock from name brands, too! Before you go breaking the bank on can openers and mop buckets (these things seriously add up), make your rounds through the DT. I can almost guarantee you won't leave empty-handed.
4. Know when things hit the sale rack.
Target, Hobby Lobby, and thrift stores have been my best friends. Not only because they're reasonably priced, but because I know their sale days. If it's not on sale, it's almost guaranteed that I won't buy it. I already went into Hobby Lobby's sale rotation, but a lot of local thrift stores also have colored tag sale days. So if it has a green tag on Monday, it's 99 cents, and so on and so forth. One of my favorite stops in a thrift store is the home section. I always look for photo frames (they're dirt cheap at thrift stores!). Target also has markdown schedule that's important to know. Click here to check out their markdown schedule.
5. Put faux sheepskin rugs and plants everywhere.
And thus I leave you with my last piece of (slightly random) advice.
I don't know what it is about sheepskin rugs and plants, but they just look nice. I bought two sheepskin rugs from Ikea for $30 and one from HomeGoods for $12. My dad was very quick to ask why I had so many. I felt like I didn't have enough. My home is from the 70's, and even after renovating, there's still some blemishes. I threw one down on my stained closet floor and laid my shoes on top and it instantly made it look more chic. If there are any spots in your house that you feel look a little bland, toss a sheepskin rug down. They also look great draped over the backs of chairs.
Plants make your house look and feel more cozy. Don't ask me why, because I don't know. But my house instantly looked more inviting once I had a few plants on the counters, end tables, and one by the couch. Here's the thing with me and plants, though: I have a brown thumb, not a green thumb. I kill plants almost instantly. I try my darndest to water them the correct amount when they need it and give them the correct amount of sunlight, but nothing works. So there's only two real plants in my house (the kind that basically need no attention), and the rest are fake. And they still have the same effect!
And after many months of trying to pinch my pennies and keep my house from representing what my bank account looks like (sad and empty), my house has become a home and it's time to move in!
If you have any questions about where anything came from in the above pictures, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org