I hope that title is not misleading. While there is nothing sneakier than tiptoeing into somebody’s house in the middle of the night and stealing stuff from them, that is not what this post is about. This is about being creative.
Free furniture is there for the taking. All you have to do is open your eyes, and you will never pay for furniture again. Not all of these methods might apply to you, and some might be a little…er…eccentric (yeah, that’s the word!) than others. But all are real and some may even be realistic.
DIY. There are books in the library that will show you how to build your own furniture. There are plans. There are step-by-step instructions. You can become a one-man furniture factory. Or a one-woman furniture factory.
Of course, this is only free if you already have the tools (or have a brother-in-law who does) and the materials lying around. If you have to buy materials, this won’t count as “free”, just as “frugal” or “thrifty“.
Roadside scrounging. You would be amazed at what people throw out. Sometimes, it is total trash (not so amazing), but sometimes it is almost like new (amazing). If you “shop” around various neighbourhoods on their respective garbage days. If you don’t mind having furniture that might look like you have had it for a few years – and even new furniture looks like that, after a few years – this is a great way to stock up on pretty much anything but mattresses.
Barter. This is a great way to add new furniture to your home and clean out the clutter at the same time. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure, so trade junk and you both win treasure. There is always someone around who has the piece of furniture you would like, and bartering is becoming more popular. And why complain if they are foolish enough to pay for a new piece to replace it.
Inherit. Unless your parents are living in a cardboard box, chances are you will inherit some furniture. This is absolutely free, because society has set up the system of inheritance to make sure that everybody qualifies for free end tables. Be forewarned that this method does require more patience than bartering or scrounging.
Watch for sales. I love this one, because you get to be such a helpful person and so sneaky and under-handed at the same time. Why would you watch for sales if you are looking for free furniture? To help your friends out, of course – out of their current furniture.
For instance, if you would just love Jenny’s couch, mark up all the furniture sale flyers by circling some of the best deals on couches she might like. Then pass the flyer on to Jenny. Sooner or later, she will take the hint and buy a new couch. And guess which helpful friend will likely walk away with the old couch. It’s a win-win.
Rewards. Credit cards offer rewards. Well, all the rewarding ones do. And those rewards can usually be spent on – you guessed it – a new dining room set.
Refinish. I saved the best for last, because this one can be combined with scrounging or with DIY or just on its own to extend the life of your current furniture. We once had a plan, long since forgotten. We were going to scrounge wooden kitchen chairs. We wanted to collect an entire set with no two alike. All wood. Each a different shape. We were going to pain all the seats one colour, most likely in a textured multi-tone paint. We were going to paint all the backs and legs in another colour, most likely a glossy complementary single tone. Each chair different in shape. Each chair, the same in coloring. And, of course, the table to match. This was not planned as a frugal project, so much as a decorating project. But, aside for some paint to buy, totally free.
Not all these methods are for you. And some are easier than others. But with a little creativity and a willingness to compromise, there is no reason that you should have to pay to furnish your house.