I will be doing a few posts this year on furnishing a house using only second hand items, most of which comes from freecycle, something I'm really passionate about. There is so much waste in the world, so much thrown away, lots of money wasted on new items when used works just as well.
Around 10 years ago Jason and I moved into our first home and did what we thought we had to do....spend, send, spend. That first week we spent thousand of dollars on new items we "had" to have for our home, we'd run to Wal-Mart every day with a list of items we "needed". We spent the next 10 year filling up that house with stuff, stuff we thought we just had to have. But of course we didn't, it did nothing for us - didn't make us happier and just ended up tying us down and played host to lots of dust.
When we found out we were moving overseas I was tired of stuff and on the whim decided to get rid of it all, I wasn't going to spend hundreds of dollars a month renting a huge storage shed for all our junk. We just rented a tiny closet to store our photo albums etc in and gave everything else away on Freecycle. It was hard. I panic a little when I saw it being carted all off, (10 truckloads of stuff!) what if I need all this stuff later?!
(Now....2 years later I can't even remember what all I gave away? There is not a single item that I've thought "Man, I wish I still had that." 10 truckloads of items, thousands of dollars, and I didn't need one single items of it.)
But then in Belfast, we found out that you don't need stuff and it was soooo freeing! We had no funds for household items so if we wanted a nice soup pot....we'll we laughed at the thought and cooked our potatoes in the shallow pan that was left in the house by previous renters. We were able to get the basics off the local Freecycle, and lived a wonderful year not caring about matching furniture, or wall hangings, or modern decor. If it did it's job, it was fine. A couch is to sit upon - nothing more, who cares if it is an "eyesore". We could buy one.... or use our money to go see another castle. Adventure always won.The Belfast freecycle was so kind to us, and we even found 2 wonderful friends there, wonderful women who we are still in contact with to this day.
Anyways, now that we are back in the states and have a home again - we decided that we would fix up the whole house use using only second hand items. Even though Jason gets a decent paycheck and we could afford to buy all new, fancy items...why would we? Working for the sole purpose of accumulating material items....no point in it, use your money for adventure instead. Sure we could go out and get a brand new kitchen table with coordinating chairs...a table I'd feel the need to be worried about if the kids scratched it up because I paid so much for it. Nah. Instead we have a sturdy table Jason's Aunt Charlotte gave us, it's years old and had no chairs so she gave us some bright blue ones instead - and we love it! We gather around it every night for dinner, the kids can relax and know I'm not going to get upset if they accidentally make a mess, on weekends we can sit there and paint or draw and not be bothered if the table gets scratched or stained, we don't have to cover it with an annoying tablecloth as it needs no protection. Our table is loved...and in no way a showcase. We'll use that money to take the kids to a trip to Canada instead.
And if we decide to move across county at any time, we'd have no problem getting rid of it, or anything in our house, so we wouldn't have to drag it along with us - nice to have no ties or investments to what you own.
I went to a swap yard sale this weekend (it was next door to Jason's Aunt Midge, a very sweet woman) and it confirmed what I've always said..."There is so much stuff out there that I bet you could live your whole life never buying anything new."
The whole town took stuff they didn't need to the city hall for a free yard sale, you offer your items and in return can take whatever you do need. What a beautiful concept. And the hall was FILLED with items, tables and tables and table of items. People were able to come in with their children's clothes that had been outgrown and walk away with the next size up - awesome.
Anyways....in the month we've spent in our new house I have been diligently keeping an eye on freecycle and second hand stores and we now have everything we need. We all have beds, bedding, dressers, and a year's worth of clothes. The kitchen cabinets are filled with dishes, tubberware, and small appliances. we have a table and chairs, we have a couch, coffee table, and arm chairs, in the bathroom we have rugs and towels. We even have extras, in the office we have a desk, chair, and exercise bike. Alex has a play area, and in the basement the kids each have a hide-a-way corner. Most of these items came from the awesome freecycle and some came from second hand places for a total of around $200 - if even that much.
Would you walk into my house and say "Oh wow, this looks like it should be pictured in a magazine!"?
Ahah, no, nope. But you would walk in and feel right at home and not worry about spilling your wine on my couch....in fact the wine would probably improve the fabric on said couch.
As I finish repainting second hand furniture and sewing curtains from freecycled fabric I will be doing posts of each room in out house and how much it cost- to give others an idea of how you can afford to furnish a home no matter what your budget AND keep items from the landfill AND not support consumerism at the same time!