Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Furnish and decorate an ENTIRE 2 bedroom apartment for under $200!!!

If you haven't read my prior blog posts or caught on that I am a bit of a bargainer, this post will definitely put into perspective just how much I love a good deal. 

A year ago my son and I started with the empty shell of an apartment that is now our home. Transforming the white walls and hallow rooms took time and patience. Being a single mom, spending a ton of money furnishing a two bedroom apartment, just wasn't something I could afford. Our bed, futon, kitchen table, dresser, and TV were what we had to start with, which gave me the opportunity to implement an idea I've always loved. I wanted to re-purpose free, old furniture and up-cycle my existing furniture. So I set a max budget of $200 for EVERYTHING I wanted and needed to turn our apartment into a home. 

Not only did I succeed, but I excelled! I was able to add a coffee table, antique chair, living room chair, small leaf table, dining bench, another bed, two dressers, tv stand, nightstand, a vintage roll-top desk with a chair, a couch for my bedroom, rugs, toy storage, a new couch for the living room, two large bookcases, a small bookcase AND decorations for the entire house, all under budget! This is how I did it and how you can too!

No, I don't mean go digging through the trash to scrap together some curtains, I mean curbside freebies. Near the end of the month and beginning of the month, people will leave all sorts of furniture and awesome finds on the side of the curb or by the dumpsters. They're either moving out and downsizing, or they are moving in and realized certain items don't fit. I've found a TON of my stuff this way. Some key points, is to check in areas not heavily populated by businesses or near busy intersections. Drive down roads where there are just houses, and near apartment complexes. If there is an alley, check it out. You have to ask yourself before taking an item, is it worth it. If it's been there for days, but you clean it up, will it be safe for your home? For example, desks, tables, wooden chairs, all received a yes from me. Fabric chairs, curtains, blankets, rugs, and couches all got left behind. Also, if you see a u-haul, you can always ask them if they have anything they're getting rid of. Sometimes they wait until the end to curb all their unwanted items. I've done this and ended up with a wooden TV stand, a nightstand for my room, my vintage roll-top desk, and my coffee table. Just make sure they can be easily cleaned and sanitized.

On craigslist, offer-up, and Facebook selling sites, I would find simple items that were cheap, buy them, and resell for more. It seems pretty self explanatory, but after doing this trick you can end up not only purchasing a new furniture piece for your home, but making extra money! For example, I was looking for a small leaf table I could use as a side table and patio table, and a wooden folding chair for my desk. I was determined to find a way to get these items as cheap as possible, if not free. After searching on re-sell websites and my local Goodwill, I found a few nightstand's priced at $5 each and ended up reselling them for $10 each. Then, I went online and found a lady selling six wooden folding chairs for $25. I didn't want to necessarily buy that many chairs, but the lady was determined to sell them all together. So I went ahead and purchased all of them, and resold four of them for $40 (I kept two, one for my desk, and one for my patio). With a $25 profit, I went to my local Swapmeet and found the perfect leaf table for $7. All in all, I ended up with two wooden folding chairs and table for a profit of $18, which I was able to use on my decor! I did this with quite a few items, and eventually saved $300 to purchase a brand new couch. It took me about three months to save that amount, but it was well worth it, since it was the last item we added to our home.

While I was on this quest, I decided to ask my family members and friends if anyone was getting rid of items. In doing this, I was given two chairs that I turned into a small couch for my bedroom, a new TV, a gorgeous antique chair, a brand new mattress, what is now my son's favorite living room chair and a small bookcase for our movies. You'll be amazed at how much extra stuff people have, that they are more than willing to give away. Also, I started asking for gift cards (for places like Target, IKEA, Walmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond) for my Birthday gifts. In doing that, I was able to purchase a toy storage bench ($50), and two dressers ($30).

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say they completely avoid IKEA. The number one complaint is always, it's too crowded. I have a way around that. First off, GO EARLY! I mean "waiting for doors to open" early, then head straight for the clearance section. Trust me, you'll be grateful when you get your hands on two rugs ($20), three sets of curtains ($15), a duvet cover ($10), two large bookcases ($30), and a dining bench ($10) for under $90!!! Plus, you can always find things here to resell later and make an additional profit, decreasing the amount you actually spent!

Some people don't think they're DIY savvy, and that's ok, but I would definitely recommend at least researching some easy DIY decor on Pinterest. It can save you a ton of money and help personalize your home. I created an entire accent wall out of old book pages for only $1 (see Feb. 23, 2016 post). For example, you can update old mirrors to match your color scheme, use felt or fabric to create unique accent pillows filled with fabric scraps or traditional cotton, make your own jewelry holders or cake stands, and even create your own rugs out of t-shirts. The Dollar Tree has a ton of items you can use for cheap and easy DIY projects or just simple decor pieces. For example, they have stones, vases, and fake flowers to create beautiful plants that can help liven up and brighten your home. While some people may be anti-fake flowers, Dollar Tree definitely has some bouquets that don't resemble normal fake flowers. I've received multiple compliments on my plastic friends. You can also create your own art work by framing your children's masterpieces and putting them up on a blank wall in your living room with a mix of family photos. 

For me, buying a traditional entertainment center, just wasn't something I liked the idea of. Not just because of the price, but I didn't care for the look either. My only requirement was that I wanted something with enough space to hide away all our board games. I opted to use my big dresser that stuck with us through our transition of starting over, as a TV stand/storage unit and place an old shelf above to hold our Roku and internet router/modem. Best decision ever. It holds all of our board games, puzzles, and video games! There was even an extra drawer (it had six total), so we decided to use it as the Lego drawer. Perfect for easy clean up and organization. Sometimes you just have to think outside of the box when it comes to your home.

Furnishing and decorating the entire apartment took patience, which is necessary if you want to find exactly what you're looking for, without over-spending. It took me a total of five months to finish and I'm extremely happy with the end results. 

Your home is just that, YOURS! There are only rules if you want there to be. In our home, I am a bit eccentric. I like classic, distressed, colorful, and antique, while my son just loves putting his touch on everything, like placing his artwork in frames on the wall. I mix them all together and quite frankly, I love it. Not only do we have a home that screams "us", but it was an amazing experience to do it all with my son, without sacrificing a chunk of money. After this experience, I truly cherish every thing that we own and our home together. 

Do you guys have any awesome finds that you cherish? What are some cool tricks you used to create your happy home? Let me know on Instagram @thewhiterockingchair

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