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Housing: furnishing on a shoestring

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So to any of you with nomadic children - or from your own experience: Any tricks of furnishing a place on the cheap when you don't know if it will be for just a year, or maybe longer? I am sure dau will check around if anyone is moving away and giving/selling anything. I know about Ikea (sp?) -- Any other ideas and tricks for getting the basics far from the main home base??

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Flea Markets! In NY there is 2nd avenue, which is full of "antique" shops, and there used to be a great flea market somewhere on 6th Ave., but that was a long time ago. I think one can find a flea market almost anywhere though! We furnished our NY apt. entirely from these places :flowers:

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Not a parent, but a grad student - students constantly have moving out sales with cheap furniture availabe. Alternately, when I was in college, we used the cheaper plastic blow-up furniture that was in vogue at the time. It had the added benefit of compressing to next-to-nothing, which made for easy storage/transportation.

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syr, you can also have your daughter get in touch with me if she's in the market for a nice, practically brand new!, futon - an extra thick one, I might add. :flowers:


For things other than beds, I'm sure that Victoria's suggestion is a good one...plus reading the classifieds of something like The Village Voice, another Manhattan only newspaper, or checking out Craigslist.com to see if people have listed various things for sale.


I will say that IKEA does have some amazingly inexpensive items. We bought comfy and easy to move couch from them for about $99 when we were in D.C.... also a great shelving unit...again, easy to "strike" and move.


I'm serious about the futon by the way and we'd most likely love to deliver it, too! :D

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For that 'first apt.' look, a really cheap and comfortable chair is the director's chair and the chaise lounge that you can get at the drug store or home improvement store, that folds to carry on your shoulder. The two summers that I was a dorm mom at a SI, I took along the chaise version (with built in foot rest) and used it in my spartan dorm room. Everyone commented on the comfort of the chair and I was the only one with a 'well furnished' room! :blushing: Put a throw over the back and you can make this look pretty hip! They are very cheap($15-20) and they now come in lots of fun colors.


Another idea is the butterfly chair. These are often sold in teen accessory stores (our local Icing and Limited Too both carried these in some young, hip designs for around $35). They can look really retro, when you pair them with your other garage sale finds, so they might be an idea.


Covering bad carpet with a rush or other natural fiber rug from Pier One is a very cheap way to dress up tacky apt. carpeting. These mats are super cheap and will look great with your butterfly chair!


You must start watching all those shows on HGTV that show you how to make a fantastic room for peanuts. Some of the stuff they come up with is really clever and very cheap. I saw a neat coffee table idea recently that was made of two square baskets, set with the opening on one side, then covered with a piece of glass. They gave extra storage and it was very cheap. Buy an old trunk at a garage sale and spray paint it with one of those neat faux finishes they have in a can. This too is a great coffee table.


One last suggestion: natural muslin slipcovers from Target (these are on sale from time to time) can make the worst garage sale sofa or love seat look great. My nephew's fiance and her two roomies took all their mis-matched hand-me-down furniture and put it in their apt. living room, covered it with some yellow muslin slipcovers and had a pulled together living room for around $150! Oh yeah, they also make similar slipcovers for the cheap, plastic lawn chairs that dress them up and allow you to have inexpensive seating for a kitchen table. Buy an old metal patio table for the dining room. Get that can of spray paint, a cute tablecloth and you are set!

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:wink: What great suggestions, balletbooster!! You make me feel as if I should have a garage sale and revamp everything in my house - some really good ideas...love that coffee table idea, too. :blushing:
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We bought a couple of plastic saw horses and a wide piece of shelving and viola a desk for my son! He had destroyed his old desk and we weren't about to buy another one. The sawhorses have a little shelf on the crossmember that comes in handy for storage of books, etc. We have picked up old office furniture and cabinets for free from my husband's workplace that has tided us over at times. Right now we're using a couch and chairs we bought a neighbor's garage sale that were practically new at a give-a-way price of $45. This neighbor also had a nice futon that he was giving away since it was too big and heavy for most people to take away as well as a TV. Back to the son the destroyer, we use chairs we bought on the cheap at our kitchen table so if we have to get rid of them who cares? Thrift sores are also a good place to find things. I guess that I'm the expert on recycle and reuse. :blushing:

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Not a parent, but married to a grad student:

Any community listserv can be hugely helpful - church, synagogue, school, etc. We managed to furnish an entire apartment last year through a synagogue listserv. A faculty member was extremely helpful and posted our needs on her (wealthy) synagogue listserv, and we were donated everything from crockery to a crib! Of course, the more specific your requests, the more likely your needs will be met!

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there used to be a great flea market somewhere on 6th Ave., but that was a long time ago.

It's around 24th/25th Sts. and 6th Ave if anyone's interested ... and it's so big you should plan on spending at least a few hours!

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I have to ditto comments on Target. My mother, who our of necessity shopped at K-mart while raising four daughters (before Martha Stewart gave K-mart an edge), began calling it "Tar-ghay" (rhymes with ballet.) :sweating::wink: I gave her a hard time about her name, as she is not one to put on airs. But I do find some of the nicest and most well made things there for house and home. Now she had me calling it "Tar-ghay!"

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Thanks, all. I think we can't escape getting a new bed, but I will cruise the internet for a good deal. A couch, also, I would want to know where it came from - but those I think you can get low priced from Ikea. All else I thank you for the many suggestions. For many years, when people would talk about the style of their furnishing I would simply proclaim mine "Yardsale Eclectic." Daughter, frankly, has a much better sense of style, and I am sure can make it all "tie" together much more attactively than I have ever done, on that same "Targhet"/ thrift shop budget. :wacko::):green::blushing:

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If you're in NYC, San Francisco or several other cities, Craig's List (www.craigslist.org) is a wonderful listing of classified ads... I just clicked on the NYC furniture section, and there are over 200 listings that were just posted today. Plus, many of the listings have pictures, or the poster will offer to e-mail you pictures on request. (Its also a great way to find no-fee apartments... that's how I found my current place)

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Don't forget those old 60's and 70's standbys -- bookshelves made from boards and concrete blocks (or the more recent milk cartons, which double as storage space), and fabric (preferably Marimekko) stretched over frames to adorn the walls!

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Does anyone know of IKEA type stores in FL or the Dallas area of TX? I was disappointed to see that there werent any IKEAs in FL and the closest in TX is Houston. I will be moving in August and am looking for cheap furnishings as well! Thanks in advance! :lol:

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