How to Furnish Your Home on a Budget (Tips From a Family of 7)

There’s a real struggle when you want to create a cozie and collected home without the upper hand of even a limited budget to dedicate to it. I understand this from firsthand experience. So today I’m going to give you some of my best tips on how to furnish your home on a budget.

Vintage watercolor print and frame. One of my favorite things to look for when furnishing my home on a budget.
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Advice From A Homemaker of a Family of 7 with a Tight Budget

I have a decade and a half of learning skills, gathering advice, and figuring it out the hard way. We definitely never had a furniture budget or furnishings budget.

Even now, 15 years later, we don’t dedicate money to it. But often I’ll spend my personal spending money or birthday money on these goodies. Because I enjoy the process, hunt, and homemaking aspects.

There is a bit of discovering you have to do when you’re trying to grow into a personal style. It’s a process that sometimes takes decades. At least for those of us, like me, who isn’t an interior designer.

I feel like life experience has been my classroom. Let me tell you, you will likely buy some things you think will be great, that then don’t actually work out. I admit I’ve made mistakes that cost us money we didn’t have to waste.

But that’s somewhat a part of the whole process. The home grows with you as you mature and realize what comforts you. And aesthetics that feel like home are very personal.

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We Didn’t Buy New Furniture Because We Had A Dream of Being Debt-Free

For years we were happy to take old furniture hand-me-downs and that was fine. We had less income than debt payments (credit cards and a car loan) as newlyweds.

It’s not how you dream of starting your marriage and life out, but things happen. And even if you’re further into your 30s like I am now, I know more than ever that things happen.

Vintage wooden mortar and pestle, thrifted for a couple dollars at a flea market. Another favorite vintage furnishings.

We’ve had freak things happen like the time I had a gallstone get stuck. I turned completely jaundiced because my chiropractor told me it was back problems. Eventually, I had to have a very expensive ambulance ride to a specialist who performed an emergency specialized surgery to remove the stone. So my liver didn’t shut down completely. This was one of the multiple incidents where we incurred our debt.

It’s life, it throws stuff at you, I understand so I don’t judge.

But because of trying to make responsible decisions, we sacrificed in other areas. Which meant we couldn’t even dream of purchasing new items. And we weren’t about to create new debt by getting a personal loan for unnecessary items.

I had a dream of being completely debt-free and someday purchasing our first home. And when you’re working on a non-existent budget you have to think pretty far in the future.

A great way, really the best way, to set yourself up for financial success, in the long run, is to furnish your home on a budget. I would do it even if I didn’t have to.

Necessity is the mother of invention. When the need for something becomes imperative, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it.

Vintage brass brush and dust pan sitting on my potbelly stove.

My Best Tips to Furnish Your Home on a Budget

We eventually did get completely out of debt (more on that later). We paid off over $22k of debt all while making less than poverty-level wages. And all in the first five years of marriage and added two more family members (2 babies) in the midst.

And one of the major reasons we were able to do this was by making it a challenge to purchase everything used.

In fact, we even purchased our new house as a bargain deal.

If you want to read about all the of my tips and tricks for Thrifting like a Pro you can get my free ebook as well as many other great resources in my subscriber library.

01 Make Frugality A Part of Your Lifestyle

Furnish your home on a budget with the first step of making frugality a part of your lifestyle. Adopt the mindset and do proper research so you know exactly what items are worth. This way you’ll recognize a good deal when you see it.

Furnish your home on a budget by making the local thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales, flea markets, and even Facebook marketplace a permanent fixture in your life.

To truly become successful at training your eye is to almost turn it into an obsession. You need gazelle-like intensity (to borrow Dave’s term).

Determination and patience are two of the best commodities to have in this process. It has to be a mental shift.

Vintage silver plated salt and pepper shakers, serving utensils, and tray. All ornately carved with filigree. Some of my favorite home furnishings that I buy on a budget.

Some of the items I’ve purchased used for our home are

  • End Tables
  • A Bed Frame, (Basically all of our bed frames)
  • Coffee Table ($8 at Goodwill)
  • A Side Table, or two
  • Dining Table, Entire Dining Room Sets
  • Other Bedroom Furniture, All our Dressers, Vanities, Desks
  • Chairs
  • Couches, Vintage, and others
  • Bookshelves
  • Cabinets
  • Wardrobes
  • Kitchen Table

In fact, I can probably name on one hand the pieces we’ve purchased new in our entire house. And right at this moment, my entire living room worth of furniture cost me $350.

Furnishings Other than Furniture That You Can Buy Used

Obviously, furniture seems like it is the largest expense. And it could be if you were spending a large chunk on them. But when you buy your furniture for $20 you’ll probably actually spend much more money on the smaller items.

A very small vintage oil lamp next to my brass candlesticks on a wooden cutting board. This is one way I furnish my home on a budget, I thrift shop often.

Creating a collected living room or whole house curated in an affordable way requires you to keep all of it inexpensive.

When I do make trips to any local areas (or search online) I’m looking in several categories/areas and keep a running list in my head of things I’m looking for.

  • Linens like Window Treatments, Blankets, Sheet Sets, and Vintage Linens.
  • Window Treatments Drapes and Curtains can cost a fortune, if you can find them used you can save yourself a ton of money.
  • Throw Pillows Don’t waste your time on anything other than feather or down-alternative pillows. Covers can always be taken off and replaced.
  • Picture Frames Another item I don’t think you should ever buy new. Vintage frames are plentiful and fairly reasonably priced. Plus, they’re unique.
  • Lamps If you don’t have great natural light in your home, or you like the ambiance thrifted lamps are almost always an amazing deal.

02 Utilize Facebook Groups, Sales Pages, and Social Media for Free Items

I am completely 100% unashamed to say I have picked up items from the side of the road. Happily accepted free pieces from family and friends. And locally I have a thrift store that doesn’t sell furniture but sets it out for free in the back.

A vintage dresser in my dining room, hanging above it is a small wooden vintage mirror. On top of the dresser is various heights of vintage brass candlesticks with candles burning. A large ornate brass photo frame and various sizes of cloches.

To my husband’s great chagrin I frequent that spot as I drive past it every day. But even if I don’t keep it, I sometimes refinish it, give it a fresh coat of paint, and make a little bit of money off of it.

Which means a better budget to spend on things I do want.

03 The Challenge to Furnish Your Home on A Budget – Make it a Game

Being new homeowners brought a whole slew of new expenses we were simply not prepared for. Life’s challenges don’t stop when you get out of debt. So, I took the challenge and made it into a game and shifted my perspective of what constituted great deals.

You can buy all kinds of things new and used, at a discounted price. But is it a good idea? I guess it depends on your style and the rules you’ve set for yourself.

I personally found over time that I wasted more money when I was hung up on the fact that it was cheap.

One of  my favorite things to find on my adventures, a wooden music box. On top sits a small brass trinket box and behind them is a large white pfaltzgraff platter.

Bargain shopping can have a dark side

Therefore the game has a few rules to follow for my peace of mind

For Furniture

01 It must be quality furniture, or furnishings – No particle board junk that will just fall apart. It must be a good investment. Antique and vintage solid wood furniture is by far the best deals as far as longevity of use.

02 I must feel confident I can resale for a profit & Be in Good Condition – Cheap enough that if I decide it doesn’t fit I could easily turn it into a flip. And certainly, I have to be confident I can fix whatever ails it within my limited set of skills.

03 The item must be something I can bring home in my vehicle or trailer – I’m not going to pay for delivery and I don’t like to ask for help any more than I have to.

04 It has to fit into our house – Yes, this can be an issue you need to pay attention to. Also, we have to bring things upstairs.

An antique marmalade crock I recently found at a thrift store for $4. It's got aging but it's from the 1800s london england. And it's beautiful.

For Other Furnishings

01 A Part of a Specific Collection – I have a few things I’ve chosen to collect based on my tastes and their uses, like Pfaltzgraff Heritage Dishes (the dishes we use), ironstone, and copper.

02 Know Their Worth & Buy them Cheap – Since the rest of these household items are necessities at all I don’t allow myself to spend much on them. Definitely, if it isn’t a piece of functional decor, but something pretty to look at.

03 Must have Multiple Uses or be Purposeful – This is a general rule I do break sometimes for things like art. But generally speaking, I like to invest in functional decor that serves a purpose.

04 I must have a place for it in mind – I have gotten myself into more trouble by ignoring this rule.

How to furnish your home on a small budget? Look for things you love and don't pay more than what you have. This small brass trinket box cost $2 and I absolutely love it. It's ornate carvings are charming. Sitting up against the wooden shelf and the white bowls.

04 Sales Aren’t Just For Furniture Stores and Online Stores

There was a time when I hadn’t realized this was an actual thing. Thrift stores & Flea Markets actually run sales during holidays and even sporadically.

So, when Black Friday or even Labor Day rolls around don’t forget to check out your local second-hand shops.

A few other things to keep in mind when hunting for deals on the deals

  • Sign Up for Price Alerts and Texts at your local thrift stores if they offer them
  • Sign up for their Free Coupons or Frequent Shopper Programs
  • Know When Certain Merchandise or color of tag Goes on Sale for even lower prices
  • Ask When their MarkDown Days Are
A vintage style brass candlestick with a burning candle.

The more you know the more you can save! I have started to save a lot of money with our local thrift outlet having $10 off $35 sales. And the only reason I know when they put one on is I’m on their text alerts.

I hope I have given you some wise and thoughtful advice to inspire you in your journey forward in creating a beautiful home on a small budget. It is possible and it can be an adventure if we choose to see it that way.

Thanks for stopping by!



    1. Thank you! It is definitely a process! The minute I think I’ve got my style all figured out, it changes a little bit haha. It’s ok, it’s a good thing I love thrifting so much!

  1. This is book-worthy! And I’d buy it even if it just had the photos. So inspiring and beautiful!

  2. Such a great post! You definitely have a knack for decorating on a budget and it shows in this post 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  3. Love this post & such great tips! My home is 90% thrifted & decorated with antiques as well. You & I would have a blast together going thrifting. Maybe one day sweet friend ❤

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