The Results of the New-To-Me Challenge

Back in July when I bought my house, I decided to try a new-to-me challenge and furnish my place with as much used furniture as I could get my cheap hands on. I gave myself this challenge because a) I’m cheap and b) I caught myself lusting after ridiculously expensive furniture that I was seeing in home decor magazines. I mean, $2000 for a coffee table? That’s insane. Why on earth would a miniature table have to cost that much. The best I can figure is that the coffee table was made from the last Entwife or something like that.

It would have been really easy to drop $10,000, or more, furnishing my house because I had very little furniture prior to buying my house. I donated most of my student furniture to Value Village when I moved back home after I finished school, so aside from a tv and a dresser, I had no furniture. All the sudden I had two bedrooms, an office, a living room and a kitchen that all needed furnished. Initially, I obsessed over how I was going to style my house, since I would be starting from scratch with my furniture. I wanted classic and cool items, like a leather reclining couch, sleek coffee tables, an elegant hardwood table for the kitchen, and everything to match and look like it came straight out of a magazine. It didn’t help that a family member (close to my age) was constantly buying brand new pieces of furniture for her new house and then calling me over to show them off. Oh, and she often forgot to take the price tags off, of course.

One night, I added up the cost of all the furniture I had found that I liked in one magazine. The total was horrifying. It was far more than I was willing to spend and it was just for a couple pieces. After I got over the sticker-shock, I started to wonder why I was lusting over such expensive furniture; after all, it’s just furniture. Sure, it would be cool if all the pieces matched, but I figure people aren’t going to avoid visiting me because my sofa isn’t brand new or Italian leather. With this in mind, I started my search for used furniture. Here’s what I managed to find:

Living room

  • A couch, grabbed off the side of the road
  • A love seat, donated to me by my aunt’s neighbours
  • 2 glass coffee tables, given to me by my aunt
  • A bookshelf, from my parents
  • A blanket box, kept from when my grandmother moved out of her house


  • A round table and two chair, scored from the end of a driveway.


  • A desk. It’s actually a table from my great grandmother’s house. It’s wood and heavy as hell, but in pretty good shape for being over 80 years old.
  • Two desk chairs. One I took from home, the other I got from my aunt and reupholstered.
  • Two bookshelves. One from my aunt’s old place, the other I found under the stairs here.
  • Filing cabinet. Was going to the dump from where my mom works, but we saved it.


  • 2 single beds and frames. One is from my uncle’s, the other was left here by the previous owner (don’t worry, I steamed cleaned that mattress to within an inch of its life).
  • Dresser, nightstand and headboard from my grandmother’s old house.
  • A dresser from my other grandmother’s house that my parents had stashed away in a grain bin of all places.

That left me with just a tv stand to buy. Not too bad. Mind you, nothing matches so it makes for a very eclectic looking house, but I don’t mind. I’m actually pretty proud that I was able to get so much used furniture for nothing – I didn’t pay a cent for anything I listed above. My green, ivy patterned couch isn’t leather and it might make an interior decorator choke at the sight of it, but it’s comfy as hell. It’s probably the comfiest couch I’ve ever owned. I like to look at my mismatched furniture as a ode to my frugality. Sure, one day I’ll likely buy new furniture, but  that day comes along I’ll have the money saved up to buy quality pieces that I love.

I’m really glad to be able to say I’m not financing a living room set or killing my budget just so I can have matching furniture. Sometimes I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to have the perfect home right off the bat, but really, who cares. As long as there’s a place to sit your ass down, what does it matter?

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Do you have much in the way of used furniture? Am I the only one who feels pressured to have brand new furniture?

Categories: Goals, Housing | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “The Results of the New-To-Me Challenge

  1. Love your furniture. I think you were so smart to do what you did. I spent money I didn’t have on furniture I didn’t really need. I still have it 10 years later and won’t be replacing it anytime soon! Can’t bet free!

  2. Jordann

    Good job getting a hold of so much used furniture!
    I did the same as you when I finished school, my significant other and I knew we were moving into a furnished apartment, so we sold 90% of our university furniture. We are still in our apartment, but I know as soon as we move on, I’ll be scouring kijiji for some lightly used furniture.

  3. It would be nice to furnish a home with all the new furniture, matching everything, etc. But it would be too expensive! I think if there’s something you really want, you can save up for it. Or keep an eye out on craigslist for something similar. Other times going thrifting may open up doors to finding more unique pieces. I can’t wait to buy a place so I can furnish it the way I want but it will probably take awhile.

  4. SWR

    For the record, I LOVE that bookshelf.

    We moved late last summer and purchased new (low end): a bed, futon, and storage for the pantry.

    Everything else (bookshelves, love seat, two desks, dresser, microwave (I’m counting it) were either handed down to us or left in our place by the previous residents.

    I have to say that you’re much braver than I am for using secondhand upholstered furniture. Unless it’s from someone I know (well!) I don’t take it, and that’s the only reason we purchased a brand-new futon.

    • Thanks, I really like my fancy bookshelf too. Initially, I was a little leery of taking a used couch from the end of a driveway. To make myself feel better, I took off all the cushions and sprayed the couch (lightly) with a vinegar/water mix and then put it out in the sun for a couple hours. After that, I steam cleaned it. It was very reassuring 😉

  5. Your house is STUNNING! I love the kitchen set, and I don’t think the patterned couch is that bad at all. In a couple of years, add a slipcover (if you even want!). The bookshelf is beautiful too.

    I must admit … I bought my couch. But it was a joint Christmas/Birthday gift, so I wound up paying about $200 for it. I also bought my mattress, since I really wanted new. But it sits on the floor, and all my other furniture was a donation.

    I hope that when I’m your age, I can have a house with furnishings just like yours 🙂 You’re doing great!

    • Thanks! If I could get a brand new couch for $200, I wouldn’t hesitate.

      I like to say my place has character, maybe not style, but definitely character 🙂

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