Mar 23, 2010

Unnecessary Expenses: Part 7 (Merrick)

With the arrival of our first baby only three weeks away, I’ve had a bad case of the “nesting” phase. We were hoping to sell our two bedroom condo before the baby arrived, but with the downturn in the housing market our condo would not sell. Finally, after a year of sitting on the market, Philip and I sat down and talked over our situation. Our mortgage is pretty darn cheap, we had a second bedroom that was very usable for a baby room, and with a few updates and adjustments, we could very easily stay in this house for another few years. We didn’t really NEED a big, new house, we just WANTED one.

And that brings me to another unnecessary expense – new stuff.

With outrageously low housing costs and closeout sales at nearly every other store in town, buying new stuff sounds so appealing. But do you really need it? Are you buying it just because it’s on sale? In some cases, this is a great time to take advantage of all these cheap prices. But in many cases, like ours, you can spruce up your boring house with a few simple and cheap updates.

HGTV’s Design on a Dime show has some great ideas to update your house without breaking the bank:

Revisit what you already own. Refurbishing existing pieces is the best way to do some inexpensive decorating.

Sandpaper, primer and paint can transform just about any piece of furniture. Don't throw something out because you're tired of the color, and don't pass up a good deal on a piece of furniture just because you don't like the finish. You can easily change it.

Check the Classifieds. Peruse your local online classifieds. There are some great deals to be found. Listings in classifieds often have photos attached, so it's easy to find exactly what you're looking for.

Learn to sew. Sewing your own drapery, bedding and pillows will save you a ton of cash in the long run. By sewing your own decorative accents, you have a vast array of fabrics to choose from. Plus, sewing can be a lot of fun.

And here are a few of my own ideas (and things we did to spruce up our place when I was tempted to tear down the place and start fresh):

Sell something you no longer need/use and use that money to buy something new: We sold our bookshelf and our desk that made up the office in the second bedroom, which is now the baby room. With this newly earned money, we felt great about buying a nice new bookshelf and a dresser for the baby clothes.

Inexpensive accessories can make a big difference: Our front room was looking blah and it was driving me crazy. A few cheap but colorful pillows, a mirror hung in an old frame laying around, and some artwork on the walls (done by me) has made our front room look like new. And it all cost under $100.

Rearrange Furniture: Sometimes a little rearranging is all it takes to make a room feel bigger, better, and new.

These are only a few of the many inexpensive options out there that can make a big difference in your home. And you'll probably find (like I did), that once these updates have been made, you'll love your current home and your current furniture so much more. Then you can finally stop daydreaming about a new house and new stuff, which is good...because you and your wallet don't really need it.


TheMoncurs said...

I'm the queen of affordable redecorating. My parents have spent a small fortune on art and furniture they love for their home. Their stuff is gorgeous and really high quality, which is awesome, but not on the table for me.

I have gotten really good at scouting thrift stores for frames and furniture. I have a custom glass guy who can cut glass to fit the occasional massive frame I bring home, usually for under $30.

Also, I learned to reupholster just so I could have an affordable chair to fill the hole in my living room.

I am all about not spending money on my house. It would be kind of nice to just go to a store and buy the stuff I like, but definitely less satisfying.

Packrat said...

You made a very good point - refinishing or redoing furniture - instead of buying new.

An elderly neighbor once suggested to my SIL that one should purchase antique, old, or good used furniture - even with small children in the house. Why? Most of these pieces are less expensive or roughly the same price as new pieces. Most are much sturdier and are made of better wood than new. A good piece that is well taken care of will probably retain or gain resale value. *Once a new piece of furniture leaves the store, it is no longer new.* So why buy new?

Some things can be sewn for less than ready-made, but fabric is so expensive that one must calculate carefully. A good trick to check out the bargain tables and the remnant rack. Check the signs or tags, but remnants are often 50% (or more) off regular price. If you sew quite a bit, sign up (online or at the store) for JoAnn's sale fliers. There is always a coupon for a minimum of 40% off on one regular priced item. (One piece/cut of fabric would be 40% off. I once used a 50% coupon to purchase a whole bolt of muslin. I've used it for all kinds of projects.)

Try planning ahead so that you never pay full or even half price for a sewing pattern. They are often on sale for $1.99. Also, don't waste money on patterns for curtains, pillows, table cloths, etc. There are all kinds of online tutorials or sewing/decorating books that can be checked out from the library.

Sorry for the book, but you brought up such good ideas.

Anonymous said...

I just loved this post! I have so much "stuff" laying around...I've just started posting things on craig's list. It's awesome! Also, I like change....I have been known to move furniture around and it's fun. Great ideas!