The Great Ottoman Search: A Primer on Finding the Home Furnishings You Want, Cheap.
I’m fairly obsessed with home furnishings. But I’m also fairly thrifty. And once I get something in my head that I want, I won’t stop until I find it. But I’m also
not usually rarely never willing to pay full price either. Which means it often takes me several months to find what I’m looking for. For example, I became obsessed with this dining room table from Restoration Hardware, but refused to pay $1,200 (before tax!) for it. So after about a year of looking, I found this dining room table. It’s not quite as grand, but for our house, that’s really OK. And It was on sale (a few times) and then I had a coupon. So I walked out of the store with my new dining table for $185…..including tax. Score one for me.
The same thing happened with my dining room chairs. I’d seen these guys (pictured below), and it was love at first sight. But as with the dining table, the $300 PER CHAIR price tag made me choke. After about 6 months of searching, I found the chairs that I purchased for $150 a chair. Still not super cheap, but 50% off what I would have paid for the originals. And I guarantee that I looked at every dining chair in America (both online and in stores) and there was nothing else I loved quite like the ones I purchased. Plus, I use one as my desk chair, making it doubly functional.
This is basically how every furniture-buying scenario goes in my world. I look online and in magazines and find something I love, no matter what it costs. Then I scour Craigslist, a myriad of online retailers (see the end of this post for links to websites I love to search for home things) and actual in-store places, garage sales, thrift stores, etc. until I find exactly or pretty darn close to exactly/in the same vein as what I want for a minimum of a 50% discount. Or sometimes I just decide to make it myself. Gotta love a DIY project.
For a while now, I’ve wanted a storage ottoman for our front room which serves as our library, my music room, my office, and a second living space alternative to our living room (you know, if Keith is watching the game and I want to read or blog). I’d been casually looking for a while, but when I started my new job a few weeks ago, I realized that I needed to step up the urgency level on the great ottoman search because I really needed some additional storage space to hide work things, whilst keeping the room cute.
I found one at Target that I seriously considered, but the sale ended before I decided to purchase it. And I didn’t love it enough to pay full price. After dragging my sweet friend Anna to every store in Nashville one evening (we hit more than one TJ Maxx and Southeastern Salvage plus I’d already searched Goodwill, two consignment shops, Bed, Bath and Beyond, a Ross, Marshall’s and Wal-Mart on my own earlier that day!) I purchased one almost identical to the Target one for $20 less than what Target was charging. So I bought it. And took it home……and it looked terrible. It was way too small for the space and it had some sort of an odor that I could not have lived with. So back to TJ Maxx it went. Which was fine though, because I wasn’t really in love with it. Which brings me to a piece of advice: Hold out for a piece you love. It’s worth it.
Online at Ballard Designs, I’d found this lovely tufted ottoman. And it was exactly what I wanted. However, the bottom-of-the-line version was $399 and if you wanted custom upholstery, the price got as steep as $609. Clearly, this was no-where in my budget. I surfed around for some knock-offs and strongly considered a DIY version (but I thought it might be more than I could handle, especially since my arm-chair sits half-finished in the shed), but nothing seemed perfect. I set myself a price limit of $100 which was going to be a challenge seeing as most of the knock-offs, that I didn’t really love, were going for around $150-$250 online not including shipping. But I was on a mission.
On a quick errand run this afternoon, I realized I hadn’t tried the Ross Dress For Less in West Nashville, which is not typically one of my places to hunt for things, (and which DOES carry home furnishings, toys and other random ware despite it’s clothing-oriented name). But since I’d exhausted every other option, I asked Keith if he minded running in. In the back corner of the store was exactly what I wanted, but the price-tag read $120 and there were a few smudge marks on the upholstery. Not to be deterred, I spoke with a store manager and asked if she could adjust the price at all since it was a little dirty. She kindly took 25% off the price which brought my total (including tax) to exactly $90……$10 under my goal! (And, in case you were wondering, the smudges came right off with a little fabric cleaning solution and elbow grease). It’s a little sturdier looking than the ballard design one as well, which I think goes better with our home decor. So there you have it. A lengthy account of the great ottoman search of 2012.
And because I promised you a list of my favorite places to browse online, I’ve created one below. Enjoy!
Places I Look Online For Inspiration:
www.Anthropologie.com (besides having great clothes, their home section makes me green with envy)
www.WestElm.com (this is great for inspiration and actually finding what you want. I’ve actually bought a few things here: a loveseat, rug, bedding for our guest bed and duvet cover for our bed. Their regular priced items can be steep, but their sale prices are great and they seem to frequently be offering discounts, coupons or sales.)
Places I Look Online To See If I Can Find What I Want Cheaper:
www.Target.com (their online store carries lots of great furnishings that they don’t carry in-store)
www.Walmart.com (ditto from above)
www.Costco.com (ditto from above)
www.HomeDepot.com (ditto from above)
www.Lowes.com (ditto from above)
www.Overstock.com (where everything ships for $2.99!)
www.Craigslist.com (check your local Craigslist and always be smart/safe about purchasing from folks! Mary-Hall bought almost all the appliances for her last home on Craigslist and we’ve both had great success with it!)
www.Amazon.com (yes! they sell lots more than books! my favorite Amazon home-item score was our kitchen sink!)
Places I Look In Nashville To Find Things…..(They Might Have One In Your Town Too!)
Habitat For Humanity ReStore – This store is awesome! My recent acquisition was an awesome work-bench for our “shed” (a gift from my parents!) Nashville has two, a building-supply store and a thrift store. People make donations and all the proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. We donated our kitchen cabinets and many other things during the home remodel. A great way to donate, buy cheap furniture and support a great cause.
Goodwill – always a great place to start for furnishings and knickknacks. I bought about half the frames for our photo wall from our local Goodwill
PD’s – 119 S Margin St, Franklin, TN 37064 (615) 591-3209 (FYI: They are only open Wed-Sat and don’t take returns.)
TJ Maxx – Most locations carry different things so if your town has more than one location (Nashville has at least 3), make the rounds if you’re on the hunt for a specific item…..or multiples of an item you found at one location.
Southeastern Salvage – With locations in Nashville, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Mobile and several other cities, you can easily check out the deals at this hit-or-miss warehouse. It’s great for building supplies as well.
IKEA – ok…..so they don’t actually have one of these in Nashville, but I hit it up almost every time I drive through Atlanta.
World Market – I love their funky styles imported from locations around the world, and their prices are pretty darn good too. And if you’re not willing to pay what they are asking, wait a few months for a sale. Their sales are great and they are constantly sending coupons if you join their rewards program….including a $10 gift certificate for your birthday every year!
Target – Generally my first stop for home decor. Especially throw pillows and throw rugs, curtains, and other linens.
WalMart – Wal-Mart has totally stepped it up in the decor department in the last few years. They are especially great for staple items (like curtain rods).
Bed, Bath and Beyond – The best part about this store is their coupons, which come via email or snail mail almost every week if you sign up for their mailing list. The store also takes (their own) expired coupons AND if you purchase something and then get a coupon a few days later, you can return to the store with the coupon and your receipt, and they will refund the coupon amount to you!
Ross Dress For Less – I don’t love shopping here because it’s sort of disorganized and the lighting makes everything feel slightly dirty. However, their prices are typically better than TJ Maxx and as I found out today, you can really get some great finds there sometimes!
Also, for any Birmingham, AL folks, check out the Vapor Sports Ministry Thrift Store off Hwy 280 as well. My friends Micah and Audrey run this amazing organization and last month I came home with the most awesome chair (see below) for $20. A great chair while supporting a great ministry? I can’t think of anything better. They also have locations in Columbus, GA and Jackson, California.