As we are getting ready to sell our sweet little near the lake house, I think I am getting sentimental.
I dug out our scrap book from the first few years of our journey and was pleasantly surprised at all we have done on the home. I also thought back to all we did not know or have when we bought Star Hill eight years ago.
If you are anything like us, buying a second home is a stretch financially and a little scary. Buying a second home means there is suddenly a new house payment, electrical bill, home owner association dues, water, taxes, upkeep… the list is long.
First of all, buy only what you can afford comfortably, be aware in advance what to expect like how much to plan for utilities. I was such a nervous nelly that I insisted we make “payments” for two months into our savings account before we actually bought the house. That money we deposited was our contingency fund. Hubby was so desperate to convince me that we could afford it he packed his lunch for work.
What we didn’t have a great plan for was furniture. We bought a three bedroom home with very little furniture that would work in the small spaces.
I set a goal of getting the house move in ready for $1000 and we got it done. Move in ready does not mean perfect. It means we could spend the night, have guests, and have the basics.
There were a few things I learned from the experience that I think applies to any time you set up a new home. We followed the same strategy when setting up both of our kids in their first apartment.
1. Walk through your own home to see what can go to the weekend house . We were able to come up with linens, lamps, utensils, a chair, a cedar cabinet, and our first couch. You can see the ugly couch in the trailer packed for our trip to move into the lake house. It looked much better with a slip cover.
2. Let folks know what you need. Tell people what you are looking for. Cast the net and let people know specifically what you have on your list. We ended up getting to borrow a great table and chairs for several years until we built the set we now have. A friend gave me this ginger jar lamp and mom gave us a bedside table. Don’t turn things down because it is the wrong style, shape or color. Paint covers a lot of ugly, changing out parts makes things like lamps look better. Hardware can make something look totally different.
3. Roadside rescue. Look every day you can on Craig’s list free stuff. Ask friends to call with curb alerts. Every home I have furnished has at least a few curbside rescues. Star Hill is chock full of rescues. The biggest- you really won’t believe me, but it is true, is our master bedroom dresser, chest, and a night stand we use in the guest room. We also have this cast iron typewriter table that was left at our city house when the previous owners moved off.
4. Get up early and hit garage sales. Go with a list of items you need. Wooden chairs, storage items, lawn chairs, beach towels, life jackets, and cooking items, and decorative items were picked up at garage sales for pennies on the dollar. Ask when you go to a garage sale if they have specific items. I asked about sewing cabinet at a garage sale a year ago and the man holding the garage sale took me to the back yard to see two old treadle machines. The wooden parts were dry rotted, but the bases are now my master bedroom side tables. I got this chair and bookcase for $2.00 each. Glue, paint and fabric helped them.
5. Go to resale and thrift stores. Yes, they sometimes smell funny. Get past it and check out their furniture. Look for solid wood. Remember paint cures a lot. This coffee table was a Goodwill find. Blue paint updated the look and covered the scratched top.
6. Shop the clearance sections of target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Kirkland’s, and Marshall’s. We picked red, white, and blue for our home colors. When looking for dishes, pillows, accessories I mixed and matched. A lot of our red stuff came from after Christmas sales. I have mixed and matched dishes that are all solid colors.
7. Shop Craig’s List. Be safe and never go alone but we find a lot there. My most recent CL find was this wood stove. This twin over double
8. Auctions are another source to furnish your home. One cold, wet January we got this brand new leather sleeper sofa ( our second sofa in the home) for $150.00. No one was bidding so we snagged it. It is great.
9. If you just can’t find what you need, make it yourself. Check out Pinterest, Ana White’s blog, or just Google what you need instructions to make. I am lucky enough to be married to a woodworker so I can just draw it and get what I want. This buffet, these benches, and this table are all examples of his hard work.
Over the years we have added, replaced, and upgraded. That is the fun of having a place. Because we don’t have tons invested in the furnishings I have given myself permission to experiment.