Sep 12 2011

Shopping for furnishings for our house

We’re scouting consignment and thrift stores to find items to help furnish our house. It’s a bit overwhelming and I’m not sure where to even start. My approach to thrifting is shifting. In college, if I needed a bookshelf, I simply looked for ANY bookshelf and bought it if it was cheap enough. Didn’t matter how ugly it was. It just needed to work.

But now, we want the items to be functional and visually appealing. We want the rooms to have a cohesive look. So we’ll have to be pickier about the items we select.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an eye for home decor. At all. I guess I do know what I like when I see photos online or in magazines or an in-person room, but I don’t know how to translate those ideas to my own house. It’s a learning process!

My husband was shopping Goodwill during his lunch break and he called to tell me about a few items and to get my opinion. There was something he liked and the price seemed good.

I said, “Would you buy it if you saw it for the exact same price at Target?”

He wasn’t sure.

He also couldn’t identify a specific purpose for it. Even if it’s a good price, it may not do us some good to own that item.

I’ve never done this home decor thing before, so if you have ideas I’d gladly appreciate them.

I think it would work well for us to go room by room and make a list of what we’d like to do for it eventually. End tables here, a throw rug there, book shelf, photo collage, whatever. We can make a long-range shopping list and have more specific things to watch for at resale shops.

If I post pics of the inside of my house, would you share ideas for how I can finish it all off?

We’re still buying essential maintenance and safety type items right now. Today at Lowe’s I bought a gate for the stairs and some gutter extensions so water would be diverted further from the house, for example. The fun stuff will need to be purchased a bit more gradually while we save up for things and just generally build up our bank account.

9 Responses to “Shopping for furnishings for our house”

  1. I love using Craiglist. You can do specific searches….like for bookshelves :) I also buy a lot of stuff at garage sales. It takes more work, and the gas can be a pain, but last week I picked up a huge mirror at my neighborhood sale that would have cost 150 new, for $30!

  2. Hi!
    This gal does a lot w/ old / thrift furniture:

  3. Ooh, thanks for the link suggestion, JenMarie! And good score, Crys. It’s still yard sale season for awhile around here so I should see what I can find.

    I love second-hand pieces so much because I think reusing items is great, plus usually the price is better than new. Win.

  4. Of course I’ll give you ideas! I’d love to help you pick out things if I was nearby.

    You could also search around for some unique or signature pieces that you find you really like, and build your rooms around them. For example if you find a really great armoire-like cabinet or sofa, and let that set the tone for the style, colors, ambiance, etc. So exciting!

  5. Have u used You download it and you can view all the photos of desserts (or whatever you are searching for) so it is much easier to tell what is there. also, if you find items with similar lines, you can paint them to make it all look like a purposeful set.

  6. Yay! Now for the fun stuff. :) That’s great that you’re not in a rush. I’ve been able to pick up some really neat pieces by just being patient. And if you’re patient you can wait until you find something at a great prices. Craigslist is fabulous but you have to be both patient and ready to jump on an item as soon as you see it.
    I agree with the previous posters. I’m not into matching everything so if I see a nice piece of wood furniture in a style I like then I buy it and can paint or stain it to suit my style.
    Look for solid pieces with dove-tailed drawers and solid wood tops (for dressers, tables, etc…). Solid tops are easy to sand and re-stain or paint.
    Garage sales are great bc people are usually just wanting to get rid of stuff. And don’t be afraid to barter! I rarely pay more than $20 for nice, solid wood pieces of furniture. My max is $75 and I haven’t spent more than that yet (and only did once) and have bought quite a few pieces.
    The nice thing about buying good stuff for super cheap is that if it doesn’t work in your home you can usually sell it for at least what you paid (if not more) and you’re not out any $$.
    If you’re working on a room start with the big pieces and then you can slowly add pictures and nick-knacks for accents.
    Don’t just stick with thrift stores, CL, and garage sales! Check out estate sales (they will significantly lower their prices each day of the sale), and auctions. Also, let your friends and relatives know that you’re looking for second-hand pieces and you’ll be surprised at what you get.
    Check out pinterest and decoration blogs for ideas and figure out your personal style and then go for that.
    Have fun! I’d love to see pictures, I need to post some!

  7. Well…I’d love to tell you that I’ll help…but I am severely decorator impaired. It’s true. Fortunately I have a girl friend who has a great sense for decorating and I turn to her often for guidance. I will say I agree with Courtney…use Craigeasy…so much better for searching craigslist. And Stacy is so right about pinterest…you can find soooo many great ideas on there!!!
    There’s another woman who’s blog I have read who redid her entire kitchen from craigslist…you just have to be super patient. She made a list of what she wanted then search for…it took her a long time but she got every single thing she wanted in like new condition but at a 1/3 of the cost. It is definitely worth your time to shop thrift stores and craigslist.
    If you think you suffer from decorator impairment such as myself, I would recommend meeting with a designer…many will offer suggestions of what to do with what you have and give you some guidance as to what you may want to purchase in the future. The woman I met with went room by room with me and helped me picture what I might need. I took notes and have used that as a jumping point for my future purchases. She charged me a minor fee…I think like $50 for an hour consultation. Just a thought.
    I would love to see what others suggest to you. I might pick up some good pointers.

  8. I love the young house love blog and bower power for ideas. They both do a lot of thrift buying and show how they upgrade things. Also the frugal girl has some great tutorials on painting furniture. Congrats on your new home!!

  9. is a great site for ideas on how to change things you have or find. Also, Courtney is an amazing resource for personal experience on changing said items. Plus, I really dig the way her house is decorated :) Good luck. I am not really great at this either, but I do find that taking it one room at a time is mighty helpful. Also, we try to stick with really neutral big pieces and walls and “theme” with smaller items like baskets, picture frames, candle holders, etc.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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