Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Cheap and cheerful furniture for a fun and frugal home

In the Husband, I have found a kindred spirit when it comes to buying furniture for our home.  We like it comfy (no surprises there, then), we like it characterful, and we like it cheap.  We both much prefer to buy second hand whenever possible, for a number of reasons.

There's the obvious ecological benefits of stopping a perfectly good piece potentially ending up in landfill.  We prefer the look of vintage furniture - we've always had older properties and antique stuff usually suits the age of our home and our décor choices better.  We find that sofas and chairs are often more comfy if they've been a bit lived in - leather furniture especially seems to get better with age.  We like the odd scratch or chip here and there - as long as the piece is in reasonable nick we don't mind the odd scuff or so; we think they give the piece character.  Often, you pay little or next to nothing for an item that is so well build it will far outlast anything you can buy brand new today.  And with two boisterous kids, and a dog that claims every sofa and armchair for himself, there seems little point in spending a fortune on something that will have dog hairs and chocolate marks on it within 24 hours.

The leather sofa in our living room is a good example of what I'm talking about.  It looks fantastic, it's a great colour which goes with everything, and it's incredibly comfortable.  And it cost 99p.

I LOVE this sofa! And I also love my cushions.
The black and white cat one is from Ikea, the donut one I crocheted from a Mollie Makes pattern,
and the pear one I appliqued using some amazing vintage material which was,
I believe, my mother's at some point.

Yup, 99p.  Actually technically 50p, because included in the 99p was a leather armchair which we loved but couldn't find a place for, so it got passed on.  Yes, we had to collect it from a home around 10 miles away but still… what a bargain!  We love it, the kids love it… the dog, strangely, has decided that leather is not for him and prefers a fabric sofa.  Well you can't please everyone.  And at least it's dog hair-free.

I love these colour combinations - we don't do subtle in our house!
I made the two pictures in the background - I'll do a Comfy Make on those one day

We search for our furniture in a variety of places, which are detailed below.  I should say that if you're an 'I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now' kind of a person, or if you're looking for something very specific, this method of furniture hunting is probably not for you.  It can take time for the right piece to come along.  If you're prepared to wait, though, you can get some truly amazing items for your home.

If you're looking for cheap (and by cheap I mean pretty much free) furniture, the obvious place to try is that well-known online auction site beginning with an 'E' - it's where we found our sofa.  It's also where we found our attic room futon that we slept on for two months straight whilst our bedroom was being done up, which also cost 99p - it's actually the comfiest bed I've slept in for a long time!

A while ago, I was faffing about on said website and typed 'free' into the search area.  Then I narrowed my search to 'Furniture' and arranged the results by price low to high.  I was amazed by how many people are literally giving away furniture on this site - I guess most are doing this for the same reason the person we got our sofa (and armchair) from were doing it - they no longer need the furniture, they need rid of it quickly, they can't find a charity to collect it and the local council is going to charge them a small fortune to remove it.  The seller wins by having a large piece of furniture taken off their hands, and you win because you've paid nothing for your item.  I went on earlier today and clocked an amazing mid-century table and chairs set for 99p in Norfolk, and a lovely sofa in Dunfermline, so there are definitely some great bargains to be had.

Now, this is not a quick fix - the chances of you coming upon exactly what you need / want first time round are fairly remote.  But if you're the kind of person who relaxes by surfing the net, you could do worse than visiting eBay (oops!) every couple of days to see what's available in your area. And when you hit, you hit good, like we did with the sofa. 

We've also had some amazing furniture bargains from our local charity shops.  Some charities now have stores dedicated to furniture, however my best bargains have always been found in the standard shops.  I found this storage box in our bedroom in a shop for £4; I re-covered the top with some retro apple material that I got for £1 and I love it.

I use the box for all manner of stuff, it's great for general storage.
I also use it as a dumping ground for my clothes at the end of the day (everyone needs somewhere, right?)

We have a footstool in the living room which cost £3 I think (I'll be upcycling this soon so will save a photo until then!).  And up until recently we had a 1930s dresser which cost £25 but was as solid as they come.

We have a reasonable number of antiques shops around us and, until the kids came along, we used to go and have a wander around them on lazy Sunday mornings.  Now that time tends to be taken up with swimming lessons (and I daren't take the boy as he's somewhat accident prone and I'm petrified that something expensive will get broken!).  Our bed and wardrobe each cost less than £100 from antique shops and have been with us now for well over 10 years, as has the trunk at the bottom of our bed.

Although the bed is a little squeaky at times (steady now!), it really is incredibly comfy.
I crocheted the cushions on the bed and made the noticeboard as well. 

It's hard to take a photo of a mirror without getting yourself in the photo!

The church pew / bench in our hallway also cost less than £100 and is a wonderful, quirky, sturdy piece that gets a lot of comments.

This bench is so handy.  The box underneath stores hats, scarfs and gloves. 
The little table was also a bargain; I think I paid £3 for it then painted it and decoupaged the top. 
I made the cushion too.

The view from the other side!  The bag is from Orla Kiely - I had to fight for this as the Husband couldn't understand why
a) I needed another handbag and b) why a cheap one from the local supermarket just wouldn't do...

Finally, sign up to your local Freecycle or Freegle group; you can find the one in your area by doing an online search.  People place all manner of things on here and they are, as the name suggests, completely free.  But be quick - search regularly and if you want something, make contact as soon as you can as things get snapped up.  We've had bits and bobs from here over the years and it's all local and all saved from going into the tip.

Have fun with your furniture, and don't be afraid to buy second hand - you really can get some amazing pieces which will add some fantastic character to your home.

Bye for now xxx
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