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When I first moved into my house in 2004, I was the definition of house poor. I had the bare necessities in terms of furniture. Living in a home full of guys, we even discussed turning the dining room into a billiards room. Needless to say, formal dining was not on the forefront of their minds. But the traditionalist in me still wanted a nice cherry table for that room. Thankfully I won that debate.
Spending as Little as Possible
I did not, however, spend a lot of money sprucing the place up with nice furniture. Instead of creating accent walls and painting rooms in bold colors, I kept all the walls neutral. I personally liked the crispness of the white walls. The bold statement paint colors seemed like a fad to me. Plus, I hated painting, so leaving the walls neutral was a win/win decision for me at the time. I knew someone who had to paint over a red wall with 9 coats in order to get rid of the red hue. Talk about burdensome!
Since I was house poor and had quite a few empty white rooms, I was willing to take just about anything that would fill up the rooms for free.
I gladly accepted my grandmother’s very old, worn sofas. I also accepted old TVs and really anything else someone offered me. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even have an HD TV until 2012, and even then, my wife won it in a contest.
Now I don’t want to give the impression that I was living in Animal House. As my income rose and some of the furniture became more worn, I started to swap things out. But it definitely took me years to fully furnish the place.
I mainly utilized Craigslist to fill up the house with some dining room furniture, a bed set (don’t worry– not including the mattress), and a pool table.
My mom also helped me out by putting up some window treatments and artificial house plants. It gave it a bit more of an interior design touch. However, some of my rugged furniture starkly contrasted my mom’s efforts. At that point, I elected for function and comfort over looks and price.
My Final Housemate
When my wife moved into our home after we got married, my house had accumulated quite a bit over the previous 8 years. So many housemates had come and gone, and many had left bits and pieces over the years. From furniture to kitchenware to video games, I had an eclectic collection of items.
My wife hadn’t really commented on my assortment of random stuff. Although, early into our dating relationship, my wife never seemed to want to sit on my couches. Eventually, she would actually sit on the couch, but only if she had a towel or blanket to sit on as a buffer. I didn’t understand why until she pointed out the cloud of dust that would rise every time we sat down.
Somehow I managed to miss that detail over the years, but my wife noticed immediately. The couches were gross. I think we can all agree on that at this point. While they may have been a bit nasty, they were ultra comfortable. They were big and plush, and I could sleep on them all day. So I wasn’t willing to give them up until my wife moved in. We did agree though that she could have free reign once we were married.
She quickly decided that all the grimy couches had to go, along with the bulky CRT TVs, a couple of mattresses that the roommates had piled up and left over the years in a basement corner, and other random pieces of junk.
Out with the Old, In with the New
We filled up a huge U-Haul truck and headed to the county dump. We didn’t even bother to list them for free on Craigslist since their conditions were so poor. All in all, I spent around $100 for the truck and then paid the dump $40 to dispose of everything. The county weighed all our stuff at a whopping 2 tons.
My wife was thrilled to start making some subtle changes to the home. We still used Craigslist to find big-ticket furniture pieces. But she frequented stores like Home Goods quite often to revamp the kitchenware and for other accent pieces.
She seemed content with the furniture and such at first. But she has been dropping subtle hints over the last few weeks in regards to buying new furniture and not utilizing Craigslist.
On a recent walk, she informed me that most of our furniture and decor were out of style and that it was time for an update. We have a bunch of area rugs that I bought back in 2004 from Home Depot. Her biggest issue with them is every time she vacuums, the vacuum canister still fills with red residue from the carpets, after all these years. She also doesn’t like that their material is polypropylene, or fake wool. She has casually looked at new rugs but always hesitates at the price tag of a large quality rug.
I went on Houzz to get a feel for how much people spend on rooms in the house. Let me just say that it was eye-opening. I read that most interior designers quote around $10,000 – $15,000 per room between furniture, rug, drapery, etc. I honestly can’t imagine spending close to that. Maybe I’m just cheap. I’ve just gotten so use to Craigslist-type prices over the years. I might be out of touch with reality.
Downside of Craigslist
Although, as I am getting older, the Craigslist thing isn’t as convenient as it once was. Between renting a truck and recruiting friends to help with heavy lifting, it isn’t as easy to track down people with the incentive of pizza and beer. In fact, the last time I convinced a friend to help me move a sofa, I thanked him with a filet mignon (my specialty on the grill). Still though, hauling a couch down a couple of flights of stairs and then into and out of a truck is not as easy as it once was.
On top of that, I’ve noticed that there has been an influx of lower-end furniture on the site, but rarely do I see designer furniture pieces featured on Craigslist these days. The selection has definitely deteriorated.
Trying to Sway Her
With all of this said, I am trying to convince my wife to hold off on buying new furniture until we move. Her argument is that new furniture would really help the house show well to potential buyers. But from what I have gathered, decluttering a home and proper lighting are two important and inexpensive ways to amplify a space. Staging doesn’t have to mean pouring in lots of money.
Plus, my rebuttal is: what if we buy new furniture for our current home, and it doesn’t fit into our new home? I am hoping I win this argument, for our wallet’s sake! I’m not ready to shell out $10,000, or anywhere close to that, per room.