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8 Budget-Friendly Ways You Can Furnish Your Bare New Condo

PropertyAccess Team |

You just bought a new condo—or at least paid an advance on your rent. The last thing you need is to drain your bank account further in order to furnish it. Good thing there are so many affordable ways you can decorate your new flat. Read and learn.

1. Decide on a theme

The best way to ensure you stay within your budget when furnishing your new condo is to visualize a coherent look you want for your space and only buy furniture and decor that go with this theme. This helps you practice some restraint instead of just buying everything you want for your home without considering if they even go together. A theme also helps you keep things simple and determine what you need versus what’s just a waste of money. Don’t just decorate for the sake of furnishing your condo. Put a lot of thought in the big picture, then furnish your space accordingly.

2. Shop at thrift shops, garage sales, online selling sites, and consignment shops.

Just because you need to furnish your new condo doesn’t mean everything in it has to be brand new and store-bought. There’s a wealth of great bargains at thrift shops, consignment shops, a hotel liquidator, an estate sale, and garage sales. All you need is a keen eye for good finds amid all the crap (the previous tip will definitely help). As they say, another man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. Test how sturdy they are and how much work is needed to make the second-hand item useful—great if you can use them without the need for restoration. However, be wary of items that require too much work to use—it might cost more than if you just bought it brand new.

3. Paint your old furniture.

Maybe you don’t even need to buy furniture. AT ALL. Maybe all you need to do is paint furniture from your old home to fit the theme of your new condo (see, we’re always going back to Tip #1). Maybe your old furniture just needs a paint job; don’t toss them when you move. Don’t underestimate the wonders a new coat of paint can do on an old bookshelf, bedpost, or dresser. Here’s a tip on how to do it right from BusinessInsider.com: “First, remove all of the hardware and wipe down the piece with a cloth to get rid of any dust. Use sandpaper to lightly buff away the glossy finish, and then either spray paint or add two regular coats of paint. After it dries, add a coat of water-based lacquer, polyurethane, or a thin coat of clear paste wax to make the new finish last.”

4. Repurpose old items into something new.

Again, you don’t need to buy anything new when you have excess of other items that you can still use for a different purpose—that way, you don’t spend and you don’t let anything go to waste. For instance, Gizmodo.com recommends using “an old frame to make a tray, and then use that tray to corral the contents of your coffee table… To make a tray from an old frame, simply place a decorative piece of paper in the frame (wrapping paper will work) and add metal handles to each side.” Another item you can repurpose as trays? Old framed mirrors! You can also repurpose an old, rough-hewn ladder (after all the dirty construction work on your condo), this time as storage space: use it as a quaint shelf for displaying art on your wall—it’s an instant conversation piece!

5. Recycle wooden wine crates.

From repaint and repurpose, we now come to environmentalists’ favorite R word: Recycle. And one of smart home decorators’ favorite things to recycle are wine crates, which are not only incredibly versatile, they can even be free! You can either keep all the wine crates from your wedding—or get them from a friend or family member who recently got married—or nicely ask the owner of your favorite wine shop if he can save some for you. Recycled wine crates are awesome for storage. “Fill an existing shelf with wine crates for instant enclosed storage, or line the top of your cabinets with them to hide lesser-used items. You can also mount them on the wall to display knick-knacks,” suggests Gizmodo. Or use them as display shelves in your bathroom. “Add shelving to your powder room to hold pretty toiletries. Remove the back of an old wine crate or wooden box. Make shelves to fit inside the box, then add a bit of glamour by fastening a gilded frame onto the front of the unit,” advises CountryLiving.com

6. Make your own rugs, throws, and pillows. 

While we’re on the subject of DIY, why not put those sewing lessons from your home economics class to good use and sew your own pillows, throws, curtains, drapes, and beddings? If once upon a time you knew or read about how to make quilts using recycled fabric, now’s a good time as any to use that skill. Rugs are another thing you can make by sewing together smaller rugs or excess carpet material you can manage to scrounge to create a big rug for your bedroom and/or living area.

7. Get creative with bottles and jars.

There are so many things you can create out of used bottles of wine, milk, or juice and large empty jars of condiments, fruits, and vegetables. Paint those bottles and jars in bright solid colors, with blocks of colors, or even with a stained glass effect, and use them as vases, decorative items on your shelves or windowsills, or even for storing and drinking water. Or, just leave them clear and put Christmas lights in them as cute lamps on your bedside table or conversation pieces in your living room—this way, you also get to use those fairy lights throughout the year, not just in December!

8. Plants—and other natural elements—are always a good idea.

You’ve read and heard it in every home furnishing instructional: Plants bring life to any room, so they’re a no-fail, affordable way to make any bare space look more interesting and even improve air quality. You can find them in local farmers’ markets or even at the grocery. If you’re not born with a green thumb, stick to low maintenance plants like self-sufficient cacti or succulents like aloe vera that look nice and are easy to keep alive. All you need is an interesting pot for it—just DIY one, as we suggested in Tip #7. 

But if you really can’t commit to taking care of a plant, no matter how minimally, here’s a cool suggestion from Gizmodo: “Head to the nearest public park and grab some pine cones to put in a bowl, or pick up a couple of pine branches that are laying on the ground and stick them in a vase or jar. Interesting rocks also make cool door stops. Or book ends. Or paper weights. Again, totally free.” Don’t forget to wash and disinfect them!