How to Design Your Home on a Budget

Learn where to shop for furniture and decor when you're on a budget. 

In my previous posts, Designing a Studio Living Room and Fitting a Queen Bed in a Studio, I gave you the full low down on how much I spent on furniture in my living room and bedroom. Thankfully those two rooms were pretty much the only rooms I had to buy furniture for because I live in a studio. Yay for minimalism! 

Sometimes we have to think out of the box to make our dreams a reality. As the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers. If you’re tight on a budget here are some of your options: 


Discount Stores


Discount stores were my secret sauce when designing my studio apartment. No where else can you find quality, new, and stylish furniture for a low price. When retail companies have excess stock, let’s take advantage of it! Significant pieces of furniture in my studio apartment—sofa, coffee table, lamp, bed frame, bedroom end tables, and bedroom carpet—all came from Wayfair. As we know, budget can mean many different things to different people. It doesn’t matter on sites like Wayfair, however. You can shop for quality goods if you are on a first-job-out-of-school budget or a first-time-buying-a-home budget or a first-time-being-an-empty-nester budget. 


Family and Friends 


I’m a true believer in stealing from your family in friends when it comes to furniture and decor (ask them first though). Often times people upgrade their home design and then throw their old pieces in the attic, basement, or closet. Friends will offer decorations for free when they are moving. My parents keep items for decades and leave them in the basement, so I treat my basement like its the mall. I walk around as if I’m scanning the different aisles to find the perfect art, accessories, and stands. I attempted to take a 100 lb. metal fish to my new apartment, but my parents wouldn’t let me because of its size. Don’t worry. I’ll try again in a couple of years. 

  The art I stole (politely asked for) from my dad  The art I stole (politely asked for) from my dad 



Craigslist is so multipurpose. You can shop for an apartment and home, along with your furniture, antiques, and art. You can even find a pet rabbit! Craigslist was a savior for me in college when my roommates and I purchased a dining room set for $50. No matter your design aesthetic, you’ll find something you love. Craigslist has styles that span all the way from traditional to modern. Also, on Craigslist, you can put your negotiating hat on. Ask them to lower the price or throw in the fourth chair for free. You can find they very basics or your show stopper piece, while also putting money in the pockets of the people in your community. 




Goodwill is a treasure trove of unique items for the frugal, especially home decor accessories. From antiques to art to books to tableware and kitchenware, Goodwill is a one-stop-shop for your home needs. And did I mention that on top of that they have a “For the Home Section”. Dust off some old furniture, slab a new layer of paint on it and make it your own. The beauty is that you can give an item a second life with your own flair, while also supporting a non-profit. Side note: Apparently on the Goodwill site, Prada purses are on auction for like $100. It looks like you can get classics for cheap, so go check it out. 



The Side of the Road 


Yes, I went there. You might be at risk of bringing bed bugs into your home, but honestly people are always throwing away quality goods. As they say, another man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. Scout out fancy apartment buildings in your neighborhood. There might just be a $5,000 couch waiting for you by the trash bin. Pro Tip: you can actually find diverse, relatively new, quality pieces of furniture the day of graduation on college campuses. Pro Pro tip: visit the apartments around your local private college. To be honest, this is creepy, but at the same time you’re helping the world by being sustainable. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.


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