Decorating your home can be expensive — but it doesn’t have to be. There are so many ways to be thrifty, and for every new idea, there’s something old you can sub in to make it happen. Finding those affordable alternatives is really just a matter of a little secondhand store shopping and a lot of creativity. That said, understanding what home items you should always buy new is important — because there are a few things that are worth splurging a little on, and others that you really don’t have to.
For example, it’s not just the cleanliness of the item that you have to worry about, it’s also it’s function and condition that you have to consider. While it might be cheaper to get a new set of pots and pans from a tag sale, and there’s nothing a few cycles of the dishwasher won’t clean, the wear on those types of items actually make them less functional. So saving some money to get used pots and pans isn’t much of a victory if you’re going to have to go out and get a brand new set a week later. On the flip side, a working toaster is a working toaster and if a neighbor is getting rid of theirs, you should definitely take advantage of the sale.
Here I’ll break this down for you a bit more so that you have all of the resources you need to go into that second hand store or tag sale with the confidence and know-how to re-decorate wisely, safely, and on a budget.
When it comes to your bedroom, there are some things you’re going to want to get new, just to be safe. Mattresses and pillows should always be purchased fresh as there’s really no way to guarantee the cleanliness of a used mattress or pillow. While you can get great used sheets and comforters, check the washing instructions before you take anything home. If it can’t withstand a few vigorous wash cycles, leave it and get yourself some new stuff.
When it comes to the actual bed frame, so long as its wood or metal, and in good shape, you can totally go secondhand! Wardrobes, chest of drawers, night stands, lamps, desks and vanities are also totally safe to buy secondhand. Wipe down the inside and outside of each piece before you bring it in your home to be safe.
Almost everything you could need to vamp up your living room situation can be found at a secondhand store or tag sale. When it comes to furniture, used is ideal. Not only can you save money by choosing used furniture, but you gain access to a variety of styles that you might not otherwise find. Coffee tables, side tables, leather couches, dinning room tables, dinning chairs, bar carts, credenzas, and bookshelves can and should all be purchased secondhand. T
he only things that you might want to consider getting new are upholstered couches, as there’s really no way of knowing how clean a used cloth couch is and what’s living inside of it (mice happen, people!) and televisions. While you can totally find great deals on contemporary TVs secondhand, likely the TVs that are going to sync with your WiFi or streaming services are going to need to be up-to-date.
Getting dish-wear, glassware and utensils secondhand is not only a great way to save money, but a great way to build an eclectic and artful collection. If you’d be most likely to get the basic white plates at a department store because they were the cheapest, you’d miss out on the colored or patterned plates that were really more your style. Plates at tag sales and second hand stores can sell dishes for a dollar each, which gives you way more freedom to explore your style. Instead of putting fine china on your wedding registry, head to a tag sale a see if you can buy your neighbor’s for much, much less.
When it comes to appliances like microwaves, toasters, blenders, or cookware, you’ll have to really put your inspection glasses on. If the item is selling for a very low price and appears to work, you can give it a shot because let’s be honest, saving a few hundred bucks on a microwave and toaster is ideal. But the blades of a blender will dull over time and that won’t be visually evident at the time of the sale, and heavily used pots and pans won’t reliably distribute heat so for those types of items you might be better off getting them new.
Most of the things you’re going to need for your bathroom should be purchased new for health and safety reasons. That’s not to say a great washer-friendly shower curtain, toilet paper holder, or soap dispenser won’t be safe — it’s just to say you should be really picky with what you bring into your bathroom. Towels, bathmats, and toiletries should always be purchased new.