My taste is a mixture of intellectual and intellectual, and this applies to almost everything I do.
I love prestige TV dramas, but I also make time for mind-numbing reality TV. My makeup bag is a mix of brand name products and drugstore finds. And for our last anniversary, my fiancé and I paired Popeye’s chicken sandwiches with a nice bottle of prosecco.
So, naturally, when we became owners last summer, our plans for furnishing our home were also mixed.
While I’m a fan of the “slow decorating” concept – not rushing into making design decisions until you know a space – there are some things you just need right away to feel at home. .
I may not be an expert, but I like a bargain. Here are a new homeowner’s thoughts on which home items are worth investing in and which ones you can be thrifty with.
For most of our rental time my fiancé and I had a second hand double bed. When it looked like we would never be able to buy a home in the hot real estate market of 2021, we decided to upgrade to a queen while still staying in our rental. I foolishly bought a nice trendy frame on Wayfair.com for around $200. I’m surprised our marriage is still going strong after the trauma of trying to piece this thing together with instructions that had more room for interpretation than the Mona Lisa smile.
To make matters worse, the flimsy wooden slats that came with the bed were all slightly out of place – some were too big to fit properly in their slots, and some were too short to stay in. As I went to bed the second or third night with the new frame, I heard loud noises beneath me before sinking a few inches; the slats under us started to come out. I tried to go to bed more carefully, my little evening game of Russian roulette. I tried to secure the slats with tape. Finally, I put a large basket of Tupperware clothes under our mattress to support our weight, which was as comfortable as it sounds – not very.
When we bought our house, there was not even a question of investing in a better quality bed frame. I opted for a significantly more expensive model from the Thuma brand, which uses Japanese joinery to connect the bed pieces in just a few places – think Lincoln Logs. It’s sturdy and beautiful, and I have no doubt it will last us for decades.
My fiancé and I collect records, and before moving we stored our collection on $30 Big Lots shelves that tilted terribly. We got used to living on the edge, but one night we came home and found about 50 records on the floor. Luckily nothing broke, but it was a wake-up call to invest in better shelving. We chose a 5 x 5 square Ikea Kallax shelving unit. The cube construction helps build the overall strength of each segment, and we even have room to grow. And at $179, it didn’t break the bank.
Until we moved I was still using cheap towels from my college years – one of the many things I was waiting to replace until we bought a house. It didn’t make much sense in hindsight, as it’s a simple upgrade if you have it within your means. My favorites are Target’s Threshold brand Ultra Plush Towels. Look for those that are “bath sheets,” which offer a few extra inches of much-appreciated fabric. And at $14 each, they’re not a big investment, but a worthwhile one.
Save your money
Some people are minimalists, loving the space and freedom that a white wall provides. I can’t tell. I love having my walls covered with concert posters, friends’ artwork and family photos. Because of my maximalist leanings, that meant we were – and still are – in the market for a lot of picture frames.
When I looked online and in brick and mortar stores, I was horrified at the high cost of frames, especially large ones. Instead, I’ve had good luck at thrift stores in the area, especially for larger frames. When I get home, I deconstruct the frame, deep clean it, then put my own art inside.
Some of our walls are brick, which means I don’t want to drill into them. For these walls, I appreciated lightweight teak wood sign holders, which snap together with magnets and are easy to hang from a single nail on a string. They cost around $13 to $25 each on Amazon, depending on size. Because I’m averse to creating a mess of crumbly bricks, I used command strip hooks, which do the job just fine.
Dressers and wardrobes
There are wonderful and talented artisans in our county, and one day I hope to meet them. But it just wasn’t in the cards for us financially to buy brand new furniture for every room. Instead of trashing our old, scratched dressers, which my parents bought used in the 80s or 90s, my father guided us to restore them. It was challenging to put some elbow grease in, and I loved being able to choose the paint color and hardware to my specs. There was a cost to buy supplies, of course, but the total was only a fraction of what a Pottery Barn or West Elm room would cost. And, of course, I love it as long as the dressers are with us, I’ll look at them and remember my dad helping us earn our DIY stripes.
Closets are almost microscopic in our townhouse, so I needed more than our existing dressers. I found a 90s Ikea cabinet for $30 at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore while visiting family out of state. This is a fun and funky lime green. Best part: Because it’s from Ikea, it came apart easily, which came in handy when fitting the piece up our narrow stairs. We took him apart, took the parts upstairs and put him back together once he was in the room he would be living in. Reassembly took about 20 minutes – fair trade for not scratching our walls trying to clear a tight corner.
There’s something to be said for a nice matching glassware set – but I’m not the only one saying it. Our cabinets are a hodgepodge of different sets, from the pink tumblers I take out for girls’ night out to vintage Pennsylvania fire station mugs from my fiancé’s family. I also appreciated the used glassware. I found some chic cut glasses for just 50 cents each at the Willow Street Goodwill a few months ago, and they made New Year’s Eve at home even more chic. And when you or a guest inevitably breaks something, there’s no hard feelings, because it was never a major investment. I might change my mind one day, but for now, cheap glassware is for me.
In both cases
I found the rugs to have one of the widest price ranges of any piece I looked at. I chose an economy rug from Walmart ($80) for our busy dining room. Just like glassware, I won’t be heartbroken if there’s a spill or muddy tracks. I also found some great runners for our kitchen and hallway at At Home for about $20 each. I ordered online and picked them up at the Fruitville Pike store. However, I spent about $300 on an extra-plush 7-by-10-foot rug from Overstock.com for our bedroom, knowing that we rarely had guests stepping foot in the room or wearing shoes we- same. It’s nice to feel it under my feet first thing in the morning, especially after a night of sleeping on a bed that didn’t collapse.