Finding Furniture On A Budget

The savviest decorators don't just walk into high end furniture shops, point, and say, "I'll take it." That wouldn't be any fun. Instead, they haunt places where they can find treasures at prices they can brag about. Now, you may be more budget-minded than interested in the hunt, but the process is the same, since anything you find in these out of the way places is likely to be kind to your budget. Here are ten top sources for finding furniture on a budget:

*For Free—When setting up a new home, ask friends and family members if they have any old furniture they want to contribute. You may be surprised to find that people are happy to give you good stuff for free. Don't neglect to sort through things a neighbor may have left near the curb for the garbage man. In today's green-conscious world, your neighbors will only admire your garbage-picking as an admirable attempt at recycling!

*Garage Sales—People often underestimate the bargains to be had at a garage sale, but one man's garbage is another man's treasure. Bring cash. If you arrive early, you'll have the widest selection of items to choose from. If you arrive late, you can often get items for less than the asking price.

Bargaining Skills

*Flea Markets—Here's a place where you can put your bargaining skills to good use. Wear comfortable shoes and make sure you slather on the sunscreen. To bring: water, your own plastic bags, a tape measure, a rolling cart, and cash.

*Consignment Shops—Chances are you have a consignment store not far from where you live. These stores offer you furniture and decorative objects at retail prices. Items have been used or were floor models. Make regular trips to these stores since the stock changes all the time.

*Damaged or Outdated Goods—Most retail furniture shops have space devoted to furniture that has become damaged, or is from an earlier season. Some stores have a policy on how often they mark down prices. Call ahead to discover what day of the week or month the markdowns take place and time your visits accordingly. These items can be terrific bargains.

Yellow Pages

*Rental Furniture Stores—Look in your yellow pages for rental furniture outfits and find out what they do with the furniture that's no longer decent enough to rent. You may be able to find out where they store or dump these items and pick up furnishings for little or no cost.

*Salvage Yards—Here's a place to scavenge for moldings, windows, parts, and hardware. Look for items with potential and think how you might be able to use them.

*Warehouse Sales—The larger retail shops often have a yearly warehouse sale in which furniture can be bought for very little. Ask a salesperson for details or watch your newspaper for announcements of such events.

Classified Ads

*Estate Sales and Auctions—These are often advertised in the classified ad section of your newspaper. There should be a Preview Day in which you can case the items beforehand and ask questions. If the Preview Day is far enough away from the actual sale or auction, you can research the items online and come up with an idea of how much money you're willing to pay.

*Online Auctions—The great thing about online auctions like eBay is the fact that you can do your stuff both day and night, and you have a way to research prices for a given product right at your fingertips. Make sure you do your homework and ask lots of questions before you purchase an item (condition, color, age?).