How I’ve kitted-out my Apartment and made it more “Homey”:
Decorating my unfurnished, rented homes on a tight budget has been a learning experience and I wanted to share what I’ve learned from mistakes I think I’ve made so as others can get some ideas. The basic things I think you need to start up your home are a couch, a table and chairs, a bed, cutlery and crockery, cooking utensils and a vacuum cleaner.
TABLE AND CHAIRS
I bought my original kitchen table and chairs from a family who had moved apartment and didn’t have space anymore for it, and I found it on ebay classifieds. I liked it because it had extra storage drawers. When I said that I needed to order a van for it to be taken home they gave me a better deal on them. I was able to sell this table for the same price when moving to this house (as i was getting a present of a bigger table). The chairs I made a 50% loss on, so I think it’s better to think about resale too, if that’s a big deal for you, which it was for me! My office chair is also from ikea but I got on Ebay, for a bargain of €2 and was able to wheel it a few streets back to my apartment! My desk I got for free from Ebay Classifieds and with great difficulty and much staring at, I got it home on the train.
Advice for 2nd hand TVs: does the remote control work and come with it? If not, forget about cheapie universal remotes. They aren’t able to tune the TV and it’s useless. I did a “swap” for a small TV with no remote, it was a waste of money and I ended up having to give it away. Then I got a bigger TV for free off freecycle (not a flatscreen) but had the remote and works perfectly. I got this from Freecycle, but you have to be fast on Freecycle or it’s gone!
I got this on Ebay Classifieds and was sold a pup. I thought it was a different series where I could get drawers (i don’t like my stuff peeking out at me), but then felt bullied into taking it when I got there. I think if I’d have been patient I could have got it for free.
I made a big mistake here – I bought an ikea couch in a second hand supermarket and paid a “man with a van” to deliver and bought a “new” cover from an ebay seller. Totall cost: €65 for the couch, €30 delivery and €35 for the cover. I thought I was being clever about at the time, but with hindsight I could have just as easily got a newer, better couch for free from a good home from someone who needed to move house fast.
With buying second-hand furniture, definitely ask the person if there were pets or smokers in the home, and that way you could get the best quality one. I came to the conclusion that second-hand is second-hand whether you get it from a reseller or a person. When you go to their home you can also see if they keep their stuff in good order anyway. For extra hygiene you can spray with bug spray and vaccuum it or clean it with a steam cleaner. You can rent a steam cleaner for a few hours too.
After my college years I really wanted to get matching sets of crockery and cutlery, and found that the sheer quantity of what I needed to cook with, and I LOVE to cook, was so much that I still haven’t made it that far! It doesn’t bother me at all though. Cutlery I bought in Ikea, and then the pots and Pyrex equipment and bowls i got in a second-hand supermarket. Shot glasses I got in a “free shop”, where you just give a donation for the running costs. Glassware and vases are sometimes offered on Freecycle.
After sleeping on fold-down couches for a year and a blow up mattress for 6mths (don’t think my back will thank me much for that in the long run!) I was DELIGHTED to get a big bed. I bought it in Ikea along with the mattress, but I think I could have, if I wanted to, bought a second hand one and got it delivered but I think with the minimal price difference between getting it new and delivery etc., I think I made the right choice. Maybe I’m just funny like that – my bed has to be brand new!
I bought a cheap one, the brand name is “Progress” in a large supermarket chain for €35. I dont think I’ve seen a cheaper one than that. The handle bit has come off from the tubey part, but with quite a lot of masking tape it’s still going fine! I buy generic bags in DM which saves me about half the price of the branded name.
Do’s and Don’ts
Check out Freecycle and Ebay Classifieds also have “to give away” sections. Also sometimes on Ex-Pat forums give away or sell things cheaply if they’ve to move home fast. I’ve had a lot of success and got a lot of nice things this way. I can recommend getting things like lamps and small items of furniture this way.
Sometimes if you wait you can get what you want for cheaper, by this I mean sales, or change of season etc.