Finding the perfect furniture for your home can be a lot of fun, but it can also quickly turn into a big and expensive headache. However, with a bit of time, patience and creativity, you can fill your home with great furniture at a fraction of the cost. Whether you’re moving into your first apartment, upgrading to a larger living space or just need to replace what you have, here are four ways you can find budget-friendly furniture.
1. Consider your timing and hit the sales. Furniture companies typically release new products in February and August, making January and July great times to buy as the stores try to clear out old inventory, according to Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of marketing for the American Home Furnishings Alliance, which represents furniture manufacturers. You can also plan your furniture purchase around a holiday such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Black Friday when most retailers have major sales.
2. Find deals online. Shopping online is like having complete access to an entire furniture store that you can sort and search efficiently without ever leaving your sofa – or a cushion on the floor if you still don’t have a sofa. Online retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com often have bigger sales and the best prices because they don’t have to rent showroom spaces or hire salespeople, and those savings end up in your pocket.
Beyond online retailers, you can search online classifieds for deals on furniture, and you may even be able to score some items for free. While Craigslist is the most well-known online classifieds, there are many other sites you can check out, including Freecycle.org and Nextdoor.com, a private social network that connects you with other people in your community.
3. Buy secondhand at a garage sale, flea market, swap meet, thrift shop or consignment store. While purchasing previously used furniture may not sound appealing, secondhand pieces are often more unique and more affordable. If you want to furnish your apartment on a budget without turning it into an IKEA showroom, here are a few places to look for secondhand items and some tips to help you find the best pieces:
- Garage sales: What one person may think is unnecessary, unattractive or broken can quickly become a staple in your apartment décor. Most furniture you buy at a garage sale will need a bit of TLC to return it to its previous glory, so try to think outside the box when you’re looking around. Generally speaking, people hold garage sales because they want to clear out the items they are selling, so if you see a piece of furniture you love but the price is still more than you’d like to pay, don’t be afraid to bargain. Unless other people have showed interest in purchasing the piece, you’ll likely get the deal – especially toward the end of the day. Garage sales are most popular in the summer, so now is the perfect time to start looking.
- Flea markets and swap meets: The problem with garage sales is that your taste may be vastly different from the seller, or there might not be any quality pieces at a particular sale, which means you’ll probably have to attend at least a few to find what you’re looking for. If you like the idea of garage sales, but want to speed up the process, look for a local flea market or swap meet, which are like multiple garage sales all in one place.
- Thrift shops and consignment stores: You can save a ton on furniture when you find a quality thrift or consignment store. Because thrift stores operate on a donation basis, you never know what will be coming and going – so the more often you stop in, the more likely you are to find great pieces at very low prices. On the other hand, consignment stores won’t take anything they don’t think they can sell, so the selection may be smaller, but the items will be of higher quality.
4. Refurbish what you have. If you have enough furniture to fill your space, but it’s simply not your style, a little do-it-yourself skill can quickly turn a dud into a modern, unique conversation piece. Wooden dressers, bookshelves and tables are some of the easiest pieces to make over. Simply sand the wood and add a fresh coat of paint. In most apartments, you can’t paint the walls, so this is a great way to add some color into any room. If you don’t like the fabric of your current sofa, but don’t feel comfortable reupholstering it, consider purchasing a slipcover, which can alter the look of your couch. You can easily throw it in the washing machine when it needs a cleaning, and because slipcovers are inexpensive, you can purchase a new one when you’ve outgrown the style. (scr)