Giving Your Home Furniture a Personal Touch

There is really a lot to be said about what kind of furniture a person has in their home: it speaks of their personality more than of their purchasing power. These days, home decor and furniture options have expanded and evolved way beyond the traditional and rigid standards of the mid-50s or earlier; people have much more eclectic arrangements in their homes today than they would have had back then. This is liberating for a lot of people, since the feel of a home is really heavily influenced by the furniture, and therefore they can give their abode the unique vibe they want for it, and not have to live up to other people’s expectations (though that surely happens for some folks still).

Knowing how to properly select furniture is an art of its own, and having a good eye and knowing a bit about the industry are both prerequisites to mastering that art. Among the most notable pieces that the average person has in their home would have to be the dining room table, the book shelf, the chest cabinet, and-perhaps most importantly-a display cabinet. Having a good cabinet to put all your most valued possessions on display (at least the ones that will fit inside), like trophies and fine china, or even paintings or memorabilia, really will give your home that personal touch that shouts out to guests and visitors that your house is unique, unlike any other.

With a display cabinet, the general idea is that “the bigger the better,” yet you also want to make sure you are getting a quality product, and not some second-rate piece. After all, this particular piece of furniture will probably attract more attention than just about any other kind of furniture, so you really want to make sure it is appealing to the eye and solidly built (after all, you may be jam-packing it full of stuff!). Consider the ambiance in your home before choosing your cabinet, and study the colors and lighting wisely. You want to have a cabinet that stands out, but in a good way-not like a sore thumb. If the lighting is poor in the room where you want to put it, then you may want to consider a display cabinet with a lot of glass (to allow in as much light as possible), or otherwise install a lighting unit inside it (some come with this feature tastefully and discreetly built in to the cabinet). Make sure you have enough space in the designated room for a cabinet, and measure everything precisely so that you don’t end up having a colossal piece of furniture that, for less than an inch of difference, can’t be squeezed into the place you want it to be.

Of course, the wood itself should be very strong, as these pieces need to be able to withstand quite a bit of weight (also, the risk of it collapsing isn’t just a bruised tush, but potentially thousands of dollars and/or memories smashed). Go with classics like cherry wood or oak for your display cabinet, which are very reliable as well as having very appealing colors and grain designs.

3 Ways to Buy Home Furniture on a Budget

The key to staying on a budget when buying furniture for your home is to take your time. Retail furniture stores are designed with the impulse buyer in mind. They know that you won’t be visiting their store frequently so a lot of care has gone into designing a floor plan for you to simply point and buy the items you like.

There are alternatives to buying new furniture. Depending on your taste whether it is contemporary, shabby chic, country-style, or an accumulation of styles, buying used furniture may be a way to stay within your budget. Well made furniture should stand the test of time and you may just find the furniture at a great price too.

Three ways to buy quality gently used furniture pieces within a reasonable budget include:

1. Estate sales, yard sales, and garage sales
2. Local newspapers / bulletin boards and Craigslist.org
3. Consignment furniture stores

Estate sales, yard sales, garage sales:

There are a number of reasons why a person may be holding an estate sale. The homeowners may:

o be downshifting their lifestyle
o moving far away
o be selling a second home and no longer need the extra furnishings
o have passed and their family has no need for the furniture

The advantage of an estate sale is that if you like the owner’s decorating style, you may be able to purchase an entire room of furniture at bargain prices. Like with yard sales and garage sales, estate sales will really be hit or miss. The disadvantage is that you never know what you will find at each sale which can be very time consuming.

If you do find a high quality piece of furniture that you want to reupholster, consider the real cost against your budget. Reupholstering quality furniture may be worth the time and expense if you know that this piece will stay in your home a long time. Depending on the age of the furniture, you may also need to rebuild cushions and replace throw pillows. This can really add up! For the expense of the new cushions, refinishing, reupholstering, fabric, materials, labor, transportation, etc. you may find it’s cheaper to buy a new piece. Definitely consider all of the costs before going down this path.

Local newspapers/bulletin boards and Craigslist.org:

If a person or business is liquidating their furniture and belongings, they will often choose to sell it via the local newspaper or through Craigslist.org. You may even find for sale ads on bulletin boards at work, grocery stores, and at churches. The seller will usually fetch a higher price for their furniture when sold through these avenues.

Craigslist has the extra advantage of being able to feature color photographs saving the buyer time of traveling around to different locations. If you are selling furniture, try selling it first through your local newspaper, local bulletin board, or on Craigslist since you will typically sell it for a higher price through these locations. If you were unsuccessful at selling your furniture through these outlets, then consider an a yard sale or garage sale. Your last option should be through an estate sale or consignment store since you will share your money with the people helping to sell your furniture.

Remember to donate any furniture that you are unable to sell through a reputable charity or organization. It’s important that you get a receipt for your donation for end-of-year donation write-offs.

Consignment furniture stores:

Consignment stores are a great way to buy furniture at a discount and save time. Of the three choices, this will be the most expensive way to buy furniture but it could save you a lot of time since it typically offers the most complete inventory options for furnishing living rooms, dining rooms, offices, kitchens and bedrooms.

You may find that local furniture consignment shops in your area have made arrangements with builders and interior designers who create model homes. As you know, model homes are beautifully decorated with high-end furniture to sell the home. When a builder has sold all the homes in a particular subdivision, the furniture is no longer needed. The furniture is oftentimes sold at furniture consignment stores for 50% off (or more!) the retail price.

Even gallery pictures for the walls are sold less expensively at consignment furniture stores. You will need to check the store monthly for new inventory as it changes frequently. To find a store in your area, simply do a search on “Furniture Consignment Store” + your zip code. Antique furniture stores may also appear in the listings.

Before purchasing your furniture, it is wise to have a budget in mind. It is advisable that you only buy the furniture and furnishings that you love because you will be seeing it everyday in your home. Often, people end up buying furniture because they need it now, but discard it within a year or two because they end up hating it. Buy for quality and because you really like the pieces. You will end up saving time and staying within your budget if you have discriminating taste when purchasing used furniture.

Budget Home Decorating – Get a Designer Home Makeover Without the Designer Price Tag

Give your home a designer makeover without the designer price tag with these budget-friendly home decorating tips:

1. Get inspired. The first step is to get loads of inspiration and ideas. Go to your local library and check out a few magazines on interior design and home decor. Depending on your personal taste, you might consider the following titles: ELLE Decor, House Beautiful, Dwell, LUXE, Traditional Home, Architectural Digest, and Cottage Style. Also check out any design magazines that are specific to your region.

Now flip through those magazines just to get ideas. Take note of the design elements that you like most. Which colors, textures, and patterns are particularly appealing to you? Jot down any and all of those designer tricks that you find aesthetically pleasing and that you could incorporate inexpensively into your own space: stacked books that double as end tables, collections of antique jars on a mantle or mismatched pewter frames in an attractive grouping, for example.

When something speaks to you, sketch it in your “design notebook” or just jot down the idea. You might not be able to use the idea in your space right away, but when you need fresh inspiration, you’ll have it.

2. Dress the walls. A quick coat or two of paint can do wonders for any space, and it’s an easy project to do by yourself in an afternoon (or two). Just a few hours of work can yield dramatic effects – elevating a boring, blah room into a cozy, warm space. And even if painting isn’t your favorite part of the home decorating process, it needs to be done first so you can make sure all of your other design elements will match or coordinate with the room itself.

Wall tiles, wall flats, fabric panels, and vinyl embellishments are other attractive and affordable options to quickly and dramatically change the look and feel of a space, particularly if you are renting and need a more temporary and removable option. A quick Google search will give you a variety of choices in a wide range of price points.

3. Dress the windows. Behind paint, the right window treatments can give you the second biggest bang for your buck. Your choice of fabric can make all the difference in your room. For drama, choose strong colors and patterns with heavier textures. For a light and airy room, opt for sheer draperies in pastels.

While the right window coverings are important, they don’t have to be super expensive. Browse your local Bed Bath & Beyond, Sears, Target, Kmart or Macys. You can often find especially deep discounts online at Amazon and Smart Bargains.

Another affordable option is to make the window coverings yourself. Roman shades are do-able for even the non-seamstress. Search for your chosen project on YouTube, HGTV or the DIY Network for step-by-step video tutorials.

4. Dress the big stuff. Since we’re on a budget here, we won’t be buying new furniture, so consider livening up your space with quality slipcovers. These can have a dramatic effect and are particularly ideal if you have quality furniture with some cosmetic blemishes.

You can generally find slipcovers at your local department stores or at discount bed and bath superstores. The nice thing about slipcovers is that they make it a cinch to change the theme or color scheme of a room to correspond with the changing seasons – or your changing moods. The downside: furniture covers are really only a practical option if you don’t have young kids or pets that lie around on the furniture. Otherwise, you’ll spend all your time straightening and tucking.

As an alternative to slipcovers, you could have your furniture reupholstered, which may be less expensive than you think, depending on the piece -or, if you’d rather opt for a new piece of furniture, you can do it without spending a whole lot by keeping an eye on your local Craigslist, your city’s Freecycle site, or even furniture store clearance sales.

5. Go nuts with accessories. This is the fun part. Use your personal sense of style and taste (coupled with the new ideas and know-how from your designer’s notebook) to add inexpensive pillows, sconces, candles and candle holders, art, photo frames, floral arrangements, throw blankets, decorative fruit bowls, fresh towels and other home décor elements. Dress up your dining room chairs with skirts and chair covers, add a dramatic table runner and an elaborate handmade centerpiece.

Where to find those budget-friendly items? Turn to your local department stores as well as secondhand stores. Watch the online clearance bins and stroll the flea market. Walk into your local Hobby Lobby or Michael’s for ideas, which are generally on display throughout the store. You might even be able to take a class in the store on how to create some of the floral displays or other home accessories you see on display.

When you’re online, be on the lookout for eye-catching ideas you can do yourself. (Stumbleupon and Pinterest are fantastic tools for uncovering hidden DIY gems.)

If you don’t have the money to do every room in your house, start small – either with paint or a new slipcover; a new pillow or a new DIY project. The trick to home decorating on a budget is to do what you can, when you can.