It’s nearly time to pack up your parents’ minivan and haul all of your worldly possessions back to college. But what if you’re living off campus and need to furnish an apartment? Or maybe you just want to add some pizzazz to your dull dorm room. Whatever the case, Bed Bath & Beyond is quite pricey, and after paying for your tuition, who has money to spare?
Why not check our your local thrift stores first before shelling out the big bucks? I live in an apartment at my school, and I’ve had to go hunting for creative ways to furnish my roommates’ and my living room and kitchen. After all, we’re all poor college kids who have loans out the wazoo. I’ve been known to literally pay for my latte at our college coffee shop with loose change. Hey, it happens.
But keep in mind that thrift shopping doesn’t just mean hitting your dumpy Goodwill. Although I love me some Goodwill, and I’ve found numerous treasures there, the quality can change from store to store. You can also look in consignment stores, flea markets, garage sales, local thrift shops, and Salvation Army.
It’s also good to keep in mind that thrift stores in a richer area will have better quality items than one in a poorer neighborhood, just because people from that area will donate to that store. But, at the same time, don’t expect to find anything affordable if you go to Greenwich Village or Soho. Think about the residents in that area and their income.
Here are some items I have found secondhand for the apartment:
Throw pillows. Just remove the cover and wash it by hand, or soak the whole pillow before you arrange it on your couch for a fun, bohemian look.
Cooking utensils. You can find some great pots, pans, tea pots, and more in thrift stores. Just keep in mind, however, that you should soak everything thoroughly in hot water and bleach before you use it. Check out these cute flour and sugar containers I found at my Goodwill the other day:
I also found this cool cast-iron hot plate that’s both functional and pretty:
Plates, bowls, and mugs. Finding cheap ceramic plates at thrift stores is a great way to build a colorful, mismatched plate and bowl collection. The same goes for mugs. There are some crazy and amazing mugs out there just waiting to be bought.
Lamps. It can be a gamble buying a lamp secondhand since you’re not sure if it works, but there may be an outlet in the store you can test it out on. It may not be a bad idea to bring a bulb to the store with you, either. I have bought some cute lamps at my local Goodwill, like this nautical-themed one:
Rugs. What better way to bring some life and color to a room than a fun area rug? Be sure to roll it out in the store before you buy it to ensure there are no holes or discolorations.
Furniture. You can sometimes snag a great bookshelf, desk or coffee table secondhand. Seriously, who doesn’t want to own a vintage desk?
Framed pictures and mirrors. You never know what kind of treasures previous (wealthy) owners have dropped off at their local thrift shop, especially vintage framed pictures and mirrors. I have seen some great vanity table mirrors at thrift stores, and my mom has bought several framed pictures secondhand that are now displayed on our wall at home. Like this photo of Monet’s sunflower painting:
Vinyl. I’ve found some awesome records by flipping through the massive stacks tossed on the bottom shelf in secondhand shops. But really–you’re trying to impress that cute guy in your Bio gen-ed? Nothing says “I’m hip” like a vinyl collection.
Whatever you end up snagging at the Salvation Army down the street, your neighbor’s garage sale, or even on Craig’s List, make sure you have fun with it. Thrift shopping is an opportunity to cut loose and get quirky. Your room will have more personality and history than any other room on campus–that I can guarantee you.
Image Source: techfun
Rebecca Price–Autoimmune Allyby
Born a North Carolinian, Rebecca Price moved to Papua New Guinea when she was 3 and lived on a Wycliffe Bible Translators center there until she graduated high school in 2010. Now a rising senior at Asbury University, Rebecca is a double major in creative writing and journalism with a minor in Spanish. Rebecca is the Executive Editor of her student newspaper, the Asbury Collegian, and a writing tutor at the Center for Academic Excellence. She has had some wonderful experiences during her time at Asbury, including reporting at the London 2012 Olympics through the NBC-affiliate LEX-18. She enjoys bunnies, coffee and AP Style.View all Rebecca Price posts.