Moving into a new space and on a budget?
Furnishing an apartment doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars, and working with a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to use cardboard boxes for furniture.
If you’re resourceful, here are a few things you’ll never need to buy new:
1. Book Shelves
People who are upgrading their furniture, or in this economy, downsizing their apartment, may be getting rid of their shelves, so check with friends and family. Thrift stores also tend to have a lot of bookshelves. Online, consider Craigslist or search for a Habitat ReStore for shelves and other “gently used” wood furniture. (If you’re feeling ambitious and you’re considering building your own book shelves, Habitat ReStores also sells cheap leftover lumber. Add a few bricks or cinderblocks and you've got shelves.)
Hot tip: You may want to avoid used hanging shelves. Removing the brackets may damage the integrity of the shelving materials.
Finding a good, clean one could be tricky. Check flea markets, thrift shops and Craigslist. (In search of a good local flea market? The National Flea Market Association is a good place to start.)
To make sure you’re choosing from the best selection out there, go to thrift shops that emphasize their standards for accepting used furniture. Housing Works, for example, only takes used furniture that’s in great condition.
If you can, ask where it’s coming from and why the seller is getting rid of it. If you’re still concerned with cleanliness, you can spot clean or vacuum it, or buy a snug sofa slipcover.
And you’ll want to make sure it hasn’t been in an apartment with bed bugs. Check for brown or black marks along seams and forget it if there’s a strong musty-sweet odor, a sign of infestation. If you’re opting for a futon, use a zippered mattress encasing.