With the New Year finally here, everyone is looking to start fresh and upgrade their surroundings. If 2012 was filled with chaos and stress, starting off the year getting your home in order is a smart move. But if Christmas has got your pockets a bit empty (hey, I'm right there with you), there are some places you can look to brighten your home and control the clutter without breaking your budget (again).
1) Marshall's/TJ Maxx/Ross.
These stores specialize in lower prices, which means good news for you. Plus, you can find everything from rugs to pillows to cookware all in one place.
If the thought of buying "used" scares you, let me tell you - a bit of patience and creativity can save you a pretty penny when decorating. Look for solid pieces like mirrors, chairs or end tables. Think about how you can repurpose smaller items — maybe metallic spray paint on some picture frames will brighten up a room?
3) Habitat for Humanity ReStore Outlets.
These stores stock appliances, furniture and other home decor items donated by those in the community, often in great condition and for incredible discount prices. (Think desks for $50, sofas for $30.) Plus, the proceeds go back to Habitat for Humanity to provide funding for new homes. Win-win. Check to see if the store near you has a Facebook page — they will often post pictures of new items with prices so you can know what's there before you go.
Dedicated to keeping waste out of landfills, Freecycle is one of the cheapest ways to get new items. A quick search on the site for Manhattan turned up people wanting to get rid of microwaves, candles, coffee tables and flower pots. If you're leery about meeting someone for the exchange, choose a well-populated area and bring a friend.
. It's gotten a bad rap in recent years, but if you can't afford (or aren't willing to spend) $800 on a new desk from Pottery Barn, finding a gorgeous mahogany desk that just happens to be pre-owned isn't that big a deal, is it? Only make inquiries on items you've seen pictures of, and follow the same rules as with Freecycle — bring a friend.
6) Good friends.
Let your girls know you want to redecorate and organize a swap dinner. Each of you bring 1-2 items you don't mind parting with (for example, a picture frame, a pretty tablecloth, a rarely used vase) and have a bit of fun mixing and matching from your friends' treasures.
Where do you turn when you want to some quick decorating for less?
Tara Pringle Jefferson is the founder of TheYoungMommyLife.com and the author of Make It Happen: The Young Mommy Guide To Creating The Career You Crave. Follow her on Twitter or check out her blog for her insights on what it means to be a mom, wife, student, writer, and about three other labels she’s too tired to remember.