As though buying a house itself weren't a massively expensive endeavor, the money hemorrhage doesn't stop when you sign the closing papers. You might own a house, but in order to own a home you actually have to put things in it. And make no mistake: the things you put in your house are in no way cheap. Imagine going into more than a hundred thousand dollars of debt to buy a new home, and then having to shell out further thousands to get it into livable shape?
Whether you're just buying a home or want to spruce up yours without going into debt, there are a few quick tricks you can employ. It's not as easy as walking into a store and just buying everything you need. Of course it's not. But with a little know-how, and the desire to learn a few new skill, you can decorate or redeorate your home and have some money left over for takeout.
Refinish wood furniture
When my wife and I first moved into our new home, we didn't realize exactly how little we actually brought with us. Before the house we lived in an apartment, and that was pretty full. But when we moved all of our furniture into the house, it was so empty that it felt like an echo chamber. We needed plenty: a desk, a dining room table, smaller tables, and a bed frame at the very least. We didn't want to go to Ikea to decorate our first home, but even if we had wanted to, even Ikea was a bit out of our desired price range.
Thankfully, my wife is very skilled. She thought she could make a hobby of woodwork. For a few weeks we drove around town, and surrounding towns, looking for bargains at garage sales. We knew we weren't going to find the furniture of our dreams, but we found pieces that she could work with. Once we found a piece we liked, she'd set it up in the garage, sand it down, and finish it. In two months' time we not only had all the initial pieces we desired, but plenty ideas for more furniture and accoutrements.
Yes, we had an advantage since my wife had already worked with wood. Yet the skill is relatively easy to acquire. You can find a few good guides to refinishing furniture that will provide you with a good start. Practicing on some scrap wood is advisable. In the meantime, go looking for wood pieces that have potential to pop once you get them sanded and finished.
Skip the wall-to-wall carpeting
When it comes to carpeting you have two options. The first is to take a day and do it yourself. That means all day, and if you screw up it means working on it another day. Given all the tools you need to install carpeting, it might not be the most feasible idea anyway. The alternative, then, is to pay someone to do that. But that defeats our entire purpose of frugality. Installing carpet is not cheap. So what's the alternative?
For starters, hardwood floors do look sharp. You have to do them right, which does involve some wood finishing. Good thing you learned that skill when building your furniture and decoration collection. In rooms that would do well with a carpet, area rugs serve the purpose just fine. That way you don't need the tools to measure and cut the carpet to the exact dimensions of the room. You have a little wiggle room, which will save you time and money.
Build shelves and other storage
You wouldn't believe how easy it is to learn how to build furniture out of wood. Perhaps a hobbyist wouldn't try to build main attraction items, such as dining room tables and chairs, cabinets, or bed frames. Those are best left to the professionals. But there are plenty of accoutrements that even a novice can build, given enough time and practice. Since you already have scraps of wood on which to practice your wood finishing, you should have the supplies to practice basic building skills.
Again, you'll need some kind of guide to get you going. Thankfully the internet is rife with them. As long as you skip the eHows and th Wiki Hows and the About.com entries, you should find something that will work reasonably well. Buidling shelving is incredibly easy as long as you're working with sturdy wood. Coffee tables are also fairly easy. If you don't find something you like at a yard sale, building one is a great alternative. You can even build items such as entertainment centers -- which really are glorified shelves, aren't they?
Populating your home with furniture and decorations, especially just after moving in, can prove to be greatly stressful. No one wants to spend thousands of dollars after they just put a down payment on a house. With a little ingenuity, and the will to learn new skills, you can decorate your home on the cheap. Best of all, those skills last a lifetime, so you'll always be prepared if you need a new piece.