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My very good friend had to leave her home in a great hurry. When she and her young daughter arrived to stay with me, she had some clothes for them both and very little money.
When the time came for her to move into her own place, I placed a "Wanted" post on my local Freecycle.org group and also on Craigslist.org, explaining what she and her daughter needed and why.
Within 1 week, we had everything she needed to furnish a 2 bedroom apartment: 2 beds, a kitchen table with 4 chairs, a sofa, pots, pans, silverware, dishes, cleaning supplies, light bulbs and lamps, bedding, towels, bookcases, coffee table, desks, and a TV and DVD player. Nothing matched but everything was clean and in very usable condition. She gradually replaced things as she could afford to and in turn passed the items she received on the same way.
By Kerre from NorCal
I've recently read several books on the aforementioned topic. I believe they are helpful to everyone, because no matter if it's our first residence or not, we all get desire to start over from time to time. I, for example, am 66 years old and am entering a new phase of my life.
The first book I read was "Use What you Have Decorating" by Lauri Ward. It was so good that I felt compelled to read her other books on the same topic. Many of us can only decorate with what we already have. Ms Ward tells how to put all the items that don't go together in an orderly fashion that is pleasing to the eye! In my opinion, the most important feature of her book was learning how to make a focal point in every room. A focal point is always an architectual feature! So it would not be your bed in the bedroom or your table in the dining room, as I had thought in the past.
I am suggesting you will want to accept all items handed down to you even if they are not in your current taste or style. Trust me. You will not be sorry. Interior designers suggest that you NOT immediately rush out to the furniture store and buy an entire matching suite of furniture for any room of the house. In fact, it is suggested that if you have such sets, you break them up so as to not look so matchy matchy. A room should look as if its contents were acquired over time. Note: pieces that do not match can be made to look like they go together with a little paint. You will want to decorate in pairs. So when you finally invest in lamps or chairs, buy two that are alike.
Save your money to spend on items you REALLY need. Buy the best quality you can afford because you will have that item for the rest of your life. I believe the two most important items of furniture would be the bed and the sofa.
The other resource that I recently acquired is a book by Better Homes and Gardens, "First Home Style." It will help you inventory your belongings and make a list of "what you need" and "what you'll eventually want." These lists will be important to keep with you when you shop. You will want to know the function and size of the item before you go shopping.
Note: There is no feeling worse than to invest in a sofa or bed that won't fit in your room. They look smaller in the store!
It is the opinion of most designers that it takes about one year of living in a space to know it and to know what you want to do with it. I know that's hard to understand because we live in a world where everyone wants everything right now! Keep that in mind, it might prevent you from wasting money on items you not only can't afford but don't really need or in the end really want.
Color is your friend because paint is inexpensive. The trend for the upcoming years is away from neutrals and toward brighter colors. As I write this the year is 2012, so this trend should be in style for a few years. But if you want to be safe and save money, you'll want to lean toward neutrals in items you don't want to replace often. I'm getting so I don't want to paint the walls often any more, so I'm going to stick with a color I'm calling Carmel. I'll save MY bright colors for accessories.
Be creative and have fun!
By Carol from Wyoming, PA