Well, I’ve had a lovely week! A week of hunting down much-needed useful stuff for free or very cheap…
A friend of mine has just escaped from an unfortunate marriage, about which the less said the better. She left literally with a couple of bags of clothes and nothing else. She had found herself an inexpensive flat, which I went to see with her a week ago; it’s over one of the local village halls, and I was amazed & delighted to find that it’s big, quirky & delightful, originally built in 1735, with high ceilings, big south-facing windows with glorious views, and sensibly-sized rooms. So we had just one week to furnish it on a shoestring! I was just one of several bargain-hunters on her behalf, but all that was there to start with was curtains, a cooker & a table.
It’s amazing what you can find when you actually go out looking for it… Needless to say, I already had a fair amount of useful stuff stashed away; rugs, sets of saucepans & casserole dishes, mugs, glasses, plates, knives, kitchen utensils and gadgets that were far too good to let go to landfill. But furniture and beds, bedding, lighting and shelving were all needed too. So I raided my mother’s linen cupboard, and dragged my elder daughter round the car boot sales last weekend, and we returned triumphant with some lovely things, including a really nice chest with rattan drawers, for very little money. Some wonderfully sturdy shelves turned up at the tip, as did some grand-scale very-posh lampshades. Her family found her some free sofas & a computer desk for her to continue her studies at, and other friends have weighed in with more shelving, wardrobes, & a fridge. A cheap but functional second-hand washing machine was sourced via Facebook. I found a quirky standard lamp on Freecycle yesterday evening to fit one of the giant lampshades, and we picked it up on our way to fetch a bed. She picked up the keys yesterday morning, and within a couple of hours it was starting to look like a home; by the time we trotted off home this afternoon, it was looking great!
The beds presented the biggest problem. There are normally lots of beds on offer on our local Freegle/Freecycle groups, but not this week. I found one on Gumtree and we duly went & picked it up, but as we’d just been in a sick teenage smoker’s flat, we didn’t realise until we were halfway home that actually it was very smelly – not nice at all. That one I’m afraid did go to the tip, not before its time. But I found one for her teenage daughter on Ebay and won it with a last-minute bid; that one is a lot better, and then a mattress turned up on Gumtree which was perfectly acceptable for my friend. So a little bit of money wasted there, but luckily not very much, and I’ll know next time to ask some sensible questions before committing to buy something like that – or even travelling to look at one.
I’m amazed how little we have spent overall, and a lot of that was because we only had a week to kit her out; given a month we could probably have done just about everything for free or very nearly so. We were lucky enough to have storage & access to transport, and a few hours free in the evenings & at weekends to hunt & chase stuff up. And how lovely it all looks now it’s in situ… you really, really don’t need to spend a fortune to make a lovely, cosy, welcoming home.
The only problem is, I can’t stop! Now I need someone else to kit out on a tiny budget… 😉