Furnishing a House on a Single Girl’s Budget

Buying my first home by myself felt rather accomplishing. However, the feeling I then needed to figure out how I was going to furnish that entire house on my single girl budget…well let’s just say that was anything but accomplishing.

And to make matters worse, I’m picky. I’m a wedding planner in the New Orleans area and decorating this house felt much like decorating for a wedding. I just couldn’t skimp on the details. It’s not in me to throw randomness together and call it home. I love symmetry, pops of color, modern lines, vintage chic items, all covered with a feeling that you’re home and can rest and relax. A perfect blend of old and new, modern yet chic is what I wanted myself and others to see when they walked into my front door.

I decided to put my wedding planner skills to the ultimate test to decorate my house on a dead person budget. Simple, right?

To start: Every canvas is going to be different. I lucked out and my canvas was in great condition. Sometimes you get what you pay for and sometimes you luck out and get things much better than you pay for. I was the later. My home needed some cleaning, the floors waxed, but overall didn’t need any major renovations. I’m not going into the home buying process in this post, but you can read more about it here if you’re interested.

Here she is though. These pics are from the house’s listing online. As you can see the previous homeowner did a great job decorating her.

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Here’s how I made her my own on a limited budget

1) Create a theme

I picked a color scheme for my living areas. Although you don’t have to pick the same color scheme for all rooms, my rooms are all open to each other and I wanted the colors to flow.

I wanted grays and whites to serve as my base colors with pops of colors (blue, yellow, green) with a mix of textures. I knew magazine perfection wasn’t an option for me, but if I adjusted my expectation I could get pretty close to what I wanted.

My house canvas is starting to come to life with the first few items put in. Curtains from Marshalls Yellow side table from Ross Rug from Marshalls Chair bought off craiglist for $10 (annie sloan duck egg blue refinished)
My house canvas is starting to come to life with the first few items put in.
Curtains from Marshalls
Yellow side table from Ross
Rug from Marshalls
Chair bought off craiglist for $10 (annie sloan duck egg blue refinished)

After the color scheme, I picked a layout for the main living rooms that I could follow. This helped me when I got to the next step.

House Furniture Needs

  1. Everything for a kitchen
  2. sofa, chairs, coffee table, accent table, dresser to serve as media cabinet, foyer dresser or table
  3. Curtains for all the rooms, blinds for doors
  4. little accent pieces
  5. Random items for wall collage
  6. Rug
  7. Kitchen table and chairs
  8. Coffee bar (converted a changing table)
  9. Desk and chair for office

2) Give yourself time to hunt

From the time I put an offer in on my house to when I actually closed on it, it was a long 20 week journey. That’s a lot of time to hunt for good deals to get all the needed items on my list. I searched online sites like craigslist and local Facebook Swap pages for good deals and spent 4-5 Saturdays in a row going to garage sales and checking local consignment shops. Every piece of furniture even down to the lighting in my home came from local deals. Pace yourself and don’t try and buy all the furniture at once. Patience pays off.  Once you find one or two items you love let those help guide you when buying the other items so there is a consistent theme.

If you’ve never heard of local Facebook Swap pages, they basically serve the same purpose as craigslist. I have a sweet friend who started one in our local area (you can search the Mandeville/Covington Community Swap Page on Facebook) and you’ll find us. It was suppose to be for friends to easily trade/sell items. As of today we have almost 7,000 members. Pretty sure we thought we would have a few hundred…not THOUSANDS. It’s quite funny and we have people messaging us for advice and how to start their own more targetted ones too. Thanks Leslie for picking me as an admin to run it, haha. I assume it’s cause we both have endless amounts of spare time and that’s why we run it?? Hahaha, that’s another post for another day. These are  great resources if you can find one in your area to find GREAT deals though.

3) Buy and Refinish

In a perfect world, one walks into a furniture store (what is that??) and buys the furniture their heart loves. In my world, one finds pieces with potential and thanks the sweet baby Jesus for them and then gets busy painting and refinishing those pieces. I’m an avid user of Annie Sloan Chalk paint. I’ve refinished mirrors, dressers, buffets, coffee tables, end tables, pianos, beds, etc…you name it I’ve had to paint it to turn ugly into lovely. Find some pieces with POTENTIAL and bring them to life. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is great because you don’t have to prime the furniture to start off. Seriously, who are those people with time to prime furniture in their life and what job do they have?

Use the color pallet you already chose in step one and either let individual pieces serve as your pops of color or as your base colors. I do a mix with normally just one piece of furniture that will be my color pop and others will be one of my base colors.

I painted my piano with Annie Sloan Provence Blue. Amazing
I painted my piano with Annie Sloan Provence Blue. Amazing
This old brown china cabinet was painted with Annie Sloan French Linen with Old White distressed accents.
This old brown china cabinet was painted with Annie Sloan French Linen with Old White distressed accents. I took the top off and use the bottom piece for my media cabinet and sold the top piece. Just adding legs to the hutch easily turn it into a beautiful display cabinet.

Sidenote: My dream store is Z Gallerie. I’m like a kid in a candy store when I get to hang out in there. I normally just settle for buying some accessories, but one day…I just might get to buy some real furniture there.

4) Fight Perfection

When you’re on a budget you don’t have room to be picky, but that doesn’t mean you won’t love your home. I always identify one or two things that I’ll save up for that are not exactly budget friendly. Mixing the great deals with just a few things I L-O-V-E brings a great balance for me.

In my kitchen I got killer deals on my table and metals chairs off craigslist, so I saved up so I could buy the acrylic armed chairs you see on the end. So. Worth. It. and technically I still got them for a great deal cause I bought the knock off brand off Amazon.

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Table: $75 off craigslist (thank you architect firm who doesn’t know how to price old distressed tables!)
Metal Chairs: Metal chairs leftover from a restaurant that closed 125 for 4 (one chair cost that much on amazon)
Acrylic Chairs: This was one of my splurge items

I topped it off with this chandelier which I also bought off craigslist for $60

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Turns out decorating a home is much like wedding plan. Make a plan, start with a few key pieces, don’t be afraid to get dirty and work hard and learn to enjoy the process and pieces you bring to life! At the end of the day the things you fill your space with merely serve as background pieces that provide warmth and comfort to the family, friends and neighbors who will fill your home with conversations, memories, laughter…and love!  Mother Theresa said, “Love begins at home.” I couldn’t agree more, the love and people that fill your house will turn it into the best home on the block!

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