St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message

10 tips: Decorate your new place on the cheap

By Laura T. Coffey
Published July 8, 2007


Striking out on your own for the first time can be exciting - and expensive. Furnishing and decorating your new place can be a serious black hole for cash. Even if you've been living in the same house or apartment for some time now, these tips can help you resist the temptation to max out your credit card by buying too much all at once.

1 Load up on ideas without spending a dime. Take a trip to your local library and grab a stack of decorating books. Check them out for free and soak up all sorts of ideas about color and furniture placement. You also can flip through decorating books at a bookstore that encourages browsing - just don't blow your decorating money on the books.

2 Get in the "thrifting" spirit. It can take time and patience, but you can find furniture at bargain-basement prices at flea markets, garage sales, antique shops and thrift stores, and through Craigslist Many items advertised on Craigslist are free; you just have to pick them up. Another tip: Scour the curbsides on or near college campuses right after finals. Many students abandon refrigerators, sofas and other heavy items then.

3 Remember your family. Your parents or other relatives may have all sorts of old furniture they'd love to give you. Some items may be truly hideous, but others may have real potential.

4 Throw a yard sale for someone you love. After you choose the furnishings you want to keep, offer to arrange a garage sale for your relatives. They may be so grateful about your efforts to unclutter their home that they'll let you keep whatever money you make from the sale. Use the proceeds to buy a big-ticket item, such as a dining-room table or a washing machine.

5 Transition over time. Buy an inexpensive futon and use it as your living-room sofa until you can afford to buy a couch. When that day arrives, move the futon to a guest room.

6 Grab a paint roller. A fresh coat of paint can brighten up even the dreariest room. To save as much money as possible, do the job yourself. Consider opting for a color other than white in at least some rooms to spruce them up, and educate yourself about painting techniques such as sponging, ragging and combing.

7 Ask for a break if you don't own the place. Contact your landlord and try to strike a deal for a decrease in rent if you paint the walls, refinish the floors or make other improvements and upgrades.

8 Line up low-cost art. Consider these inexpensive sources of wall art: old maps; pages from botanical books; old art prints from specialty or antique stores, and prints from museum gift shops, which can look expensive and trendy when framed.

9 Slipcovers are your friends. If you have a comfortable couch with damaged upholstery, slipcovers cost a lot less than reupholstering the couch or replacing it. If you can sew, make them yourself. Otherwise, buy ready-made slipcovers or go see a tailor or seamstress.

10 Jazz up your windows. A curtain rod and a few yards of inexpensive fabric can result in a simple, elegant window treatment to offset those bland horizontal blinds.

[Last modified July 6, 2007, 19:35:33]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters