So anyone who has ever moved into a new house will understand that it can be challenging to furnish it with out taking out a second mortgage. It’s not like on TV or in the movies when everyone’s house looks perfectly decorated no matter how long they have lived there. When Sean and I moved into our house we each had a few key pieces that helped fill in the blanks, but we had to get creative and look for good deals to really make our house feel like a home. I spent hours looking online to get ideas and I felt like everything I liked was way out of my price range making it impossible to fully furnish a house. This is what I learned:
Here are my top 4 furniture shopping tips:
Luckily for us we have a pottery barn and restoration hardware outlet not far from where we live. And we spent a lot of time leading up to the closing on our house shopping and arguing in these two stores. I'm sure many of you also know when you move in with anyone, roommate, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, fiancé... it can be hard to blend your individual styles so that you both feel represented in your new home.
We found a lot that we liked at Restoration Hardware, but often times we would feel like it was still a little pricey considering all we had to buy, or just not exactly what we were looking for. But the more time we spent in the store the more we learned. The first thing we learned is the day of the week in which they receive new shipment. This may seem insignificant but it's actually extremely important for two reasons. The first being a little more obvious, that it's always good to know when they're getting new stuff especially if you are looking for something very specific and you don't want to miss out. The second being that many of these store have limited space to store merchandise so the day before they receive shipment they are more likely to give you an even better deal than the price that's marked. This is how we ended up with our beautiful dining room table for under $400 as well as a leather couch for under $400 as well.
2. Pottery Barn (not the outlet)
I know what you're thinking “Pottery Barn is so expensive, how am I getting a good deal there?” Well here's the trick, As I'm sure you may know PB sets up beautiful “rooms” to display their furniture and decor. What you might not know is that all of that stuff is for sale at a huge discount. They can’t sell the floor models at full price, so if you are willing to take the one off the floor you can often get it for 50% off or sometimes even an additional discount depending on what store wide promotions are going on. The one catch is you might need to be patient, as they are unable to sell anything until they have something to replace it with. The staff at our local store is so nice and they will usually write your name and number down with the pieces you are interested in and then call you when it is available for purchase. We were also responsible for picking it up ourselves, so start thinking about that friend you have with a truck and stay on their good side. Taking advantage of the floor models allowed us to purchase two large leather chairs that would have normal cost $1500 - $2000 each, and a $6,000 sectional couch all for under $5000. It's still a big purchase but our living room is now complete and we have sturdy comfortable furniture that will last us many many years. The only down side to our beautiful sectional is the color. Dont' get me wrong its absolutely beautiful other wise I would not have bought it, but it's basically white and I'm terrified of ruining it so I keep a blanket neatly tucked over the cushions. Luckily we bought the slipcovered version so we can take it off and have it dry cleaned. I'm sure down the road we will buy a new slip cover maybe in grey or something that is a little darker but not too dark. Buying a new slipcover is in expense but its nothing compared to what it would be to buy a whole new couch.
You know I love Ikea, I did my whole kitchen with Ikea, but their furniture isn’t necessarily going to last you as long as some of the more expensive retailers. Does that mean we should avoid Ikea all together? Absolutely not. The price points at Ikea allow you to buy a lot for very little, at least little in the home furnishings world. A lot of people however don’t want it to look like their whole house came from ikea. So the trick here is balance, spend a little more on the pieces that are most important to you or the ones that you think might become the focal point of a room. Then pair those more expensive pieces with some Ikea staples. Also it's important the measure the height of any Ikea furniture as well as how high you want it to sit in your home, a lot of Ikea furniture sits a little (or a lot) lower than what we’re used to, but in the store it will seem normal next to all the other furniture. This is especially important with tables and and any type of seating.
I know I mentioned patience in regards to Pottery Barn, but you need to also have patience in regards to your home. Don’t try and do it all at once, first of all it’s really hard on your bank account, but you also don’t want to make the mistake of settling for something that’s not right for you and then changing the feel or theme you had in mind for a certain room. You’ll end up wanting to redecorate and spending more money down the road. Sean and I were so excited when we bought our house that we couldn’t wait to invite our family and friends over and have it feel lived in, but we quickly realized it was going to be a work in progress for quite sometime. We had giant rubber bins stacked as our night stands for months until we found the night stands that we wanted. I hated the look of those rubbermaid night stands but now that I have the perfect nightstand it was well worth the wait.
There are million other ways to find good deals on home furnishings, for example a lot of people I know have had great success at yard sales and estate sales. I, however, have never had a ton of luck there. So you have to find what is right for you and your home, but I hope some of my tips were helpful and making your life a little bit easier. I think the pottery barn one is especially good.
Before and After Living Room (Of course I had to show it at Christmas).
"PB Basic Slipcovered Sectional." Pottery Barn, William Sonoma Inc., 2017,
www.potterybarn.com. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.
"Railway Trestle Rectangular Dining Table." Restoration Hardware, RH, 2017,
www.restorationhardware.com. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.
"Manhattan Leather Arm Chair." Pottery Barn, William Sonoma Inc., 2017,
www.potterybarn.com. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.
"Kennsington Sectional". Restoration Hardware, RH, 2017,
www.restorationhardware.com. Accessed 5 Jan. 2017.
I love watching all those home improvement shows, like Property Brothers, Love it or List it… But let me tell you they make this whole remodeling thing seem much easier than it is. I know it’s shocking to think that reality TV isn’t actually realistic. When Sean and I bought our house one of the first things we did was tear down a wall between the kitchen and the living room to make for a more open floor plan. We also ripped down all the outdated cabinets in the kitchen with a plan to start fresh. Once we were able to see the room as a blank canvas our ideas began to grow. The first significant change we made was to close off the existing back door and add french doors on the wall where the sink had been. Now on those shows they make it seem like you just go out and pick up a door and bring it back to the house and voila french doors installed. A few things we needed to think about before choosing our door.
French Door Criteria:
1. It needed to be an Outswing door because we didn’t have room to open the doors into the kitchen.
2. We wanted it to be wide enough that it was a double door but not so wide that we couldn’t fit cabinets on the wall perpendicular to the door.
3. We also needed to finalize our kitchen design to make sure that we could fit everything we needed into the kitchen and still have room for the door.
Sounds easy enough right? Wrong. Finalizing our kitchen design proved to be the most lengthy part of our remodel. Sean had been doing most of the work on the house and being the one who cooks more I decided I would be in charge of designing the kitchen. Luckily we already had all of our appliances. We had taken advantage of a really good 4th of July sale at P.C. Richards earlier in the summer, but our brand new beautiful stainless steel appliances were just taking up space in the living room at this point. My first stop was Lowes. They gave me a lot of really great ideas for where to put things but I also felt like they were adding all sorts of things that I really didn’t need just to increase the price. Including this hideous valence that they thought I needed over the window to connect the cabinets on either side. It covered half the window, so I’m really not sure why they thought I would want that until I asked them to remove it and the price went down by about $500. I don’t like to think of myself as cheap but I was looking for a good deal on this kitchen. Once they gave me the final price for just the cabinets and then told me I would essentially have to buy double the amount of counter top for my small kitchen to meet their minimum I realized I probably wouldn’t be doing this kitchen through Lowes. There was no way Sean and I could spend upward of $6,000 before we even talked about how much it would cost to install it all. Not wanting to show my hand at Lowes, I played the dumb wife card and said I couldn’t make any decisions without my husband. I then proceeded to ask the measurements of every cabinet in the design, they had no idea that I have a pretty good memory and I went out to the car and wrote everything down as soon as we were done.
Having heard great things about Ikea kitchens I went on to their website and imputed some of the ideas from Lowes into the Ikea kitchen design software. I changed some things around and ended up designing a beautiful and functional kitchen for under $2,000 including the countertops. This gave me room to upgrade to some of the things I really wanted like a cabinet with wire a wire basket that pulled out instead of shelves, and drawers in the other base cabinets. The countertops were the big selling point. Ikea also had a minimum for granite that we did not meet. But they sell their butcher block countertops in two sizes 74 in. ranging from $139 and 98 in. ranging from $189. Even though we would have been fine with the 74 in piece I opted for the larger piece incase we decided to do an island at some point.
Now here comes the real hard part. Going to Ikea. Our closest Ikea is about an hour and half away. So one overcast day in August (I wasn’t going to miss a good beach day) I took Sean’s truck and drove up there, the whole excursion took me about 6 hours. Three in the car and three in the store. While I was there I hit a small problem, the white cabinets I had thought I wanted were actually off white and I was told by the very helpful Ikea salesperson that they would look even more cream with natural light instead of the fluorescent lights in the showroom. This was not my vision. Panicked I called Sean about thousand times going back forth over our other cabinet options. He had been saying all summer that he thought we should go with black cabinets instead of white, and naturally I just kept thinking he was crazy! I mean who wants black cabinets? Apparently I did. I walked over to where the cabinets he suggested were displayed and realized that they weren’t the cheap modern look that I was picturing at all, they were beautiful and classic looking. So in a rare moment I realized Sean was right and I bought the black cabinets.
I’m sure most of you have been to ikea at some point, and you know you go down into the warehouse and grab the boxes that hold the tightly packed flat boxes that will eventually turn into full sized pieces of furniture. Luckily you don’t have to do this for all of the cabinets, just the frames. So by the time I found the cabinet frames hidden in the darkest corner of the warehouse, waited on the ridiculously long line to pay for them (I had already paid for everything else upstairs in the kitchen design center), the rest of my items were waiting for me at the customer pick up desk. They took one look at me already struggling with the cart I had, (in my defense the front wheel was all jacked up otherwise I think would have been able to steer it just fine) and called for someone in the back to come help me. And by help they mean do it for me. I’m not some damsel in distress, but there were a lot of boxes, three carts full, and looking at those three carts I had no idea where to even begin when loading it into the truck. It was like a puzzle!
Once loaded into the truck I set out on my drive home. I also noticed that the sky was getting increasingly grayer. Now we had a few overcast days this summer, but it basically only rained two or three times, so I thought I was safe. However, I found myself basically moving at the same speed and in the same direction as this one drizzling rain cloud, I feared that at any moment I’d be stuck in a full blown downpour. Luckily I made it home and Sean and a friend helped get everything out of the truck and inside before anything got to wet.
I was thrilled! We finally had a kitchen. Well sort of...we had what would become a kitchen in boxes all over what would become our living room. It took us a couple of weeks to get sheetrocking done in the kitchen and install the french doors but finally we had our kitchen installed (also for a fraction of what Lowes told me it would cost). Sean and I had thought about doing it ourselves, and I really think we could have done some of it but I’m awfully glad we opted to hire someone. To my surprise the install only took a couple of days, and I was finally able to cook a meal for my husband in our home. Next to up the living room!