Furnish your new home without breaking the bank

Walking into your new home for the first time may be a bit jolting. Unless it was vacant when you purchased it, the home will look completely different.

The walls will be empty, the floors exposed from corner-to-corner and the prospect of filling all that space may be overwhelming.

It’s also exciting. Finally, there’s no landlord to dictate wall color and you can fill the home with whatever you want and can afford.

Ah, therein lies the rub, right? Affordability. After all, you’ve just shelled out a huge chunk of money to the lender, for the down payment and closing costs. If you’re like many homebuyers, there’s not much cash or credit left to do the things you want to in your new home.

This is where you can get creative, and we have some tips to get you started.

Make a plan

We all know what happens when we go grocery shopping without a list. We impulse shop, right? Don’t let this happen to you when shopping for home furnishings and décor.

Go through each room in the house, making notes of your vision for the rooms and what you’ll need to purchase to bring the vision to life.

If you just can’t picture what you want in a room, consider visiting a few new-home communities for ideas. From wall colors to accessories, you can also find tips online at pinterest.com, realsimple.com and bhg.com. 

Shop “used” first

Before shelling out the big bucks for new furniture, consider shopping for used first. It’s the best way to find affordable yet quality furniture.

It’s important, however, to be able to look beyond condition to the “bones” of each piece.

If you like the style of a coffee table or chair, try to overlook the cosmetic, easily-fixed problems.

So, where to shop for these cheap wonders of the decorating world? Read on.

Garage/Estate Sales

No, they aren’t the same thing. Garage sales are the sale of a person’s or family’s “stuff.”

An estate sale is typically a bit more high-end and is used to dispose of a deceased person’s belongings.

Both types of sales, however, offer a variety of items priced less than you’d find at a retail outlet.

Items for sale at estate sales are typically in better condition, so expect to pay a bit more than you would for a similar item at a garage sale.

Don’t forget to take into account any additional costs for transporting your purchases home.

Find garage and estate sales in your area on craigslist.org, estatesales.net and estatesale.com.

Consignment Stores

The consignment store owner is the “middle man (or woman)” between the customer and the for-sale-by-owner. You’ll find higher prices here than you will at thrift stores and garage/estate sales, but most of the items have been well cared-for.

Thrift Stores

Most larger towns and cities have at least one thrift store, such as Deseret Industries, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, Goodwill, the Salvation Army and privately-owned thrift stores. Here, you’ll find household furnishings and accessories at deep discounts.

The tradeoff is condition – much of what you’ll find has seen better days.

Again, try to look beyond cosmetic issues to determine if an item is salvageable with new upholstery, paint or stain.

Online Shopping

Craigslist’s popularity depends on where in the U.S. you live. In some areas, it’s the go-to website when folks want to buy or sell something. With the addition of OfferUp, you can find home décor bargains without leaving your living room.

On Craigslist, you’ll find a rather extensive section under “For Sale.” A few years ago, the site started allowing retail stores to offer items, but you are given the ability to exclude those listings, which is ideal when you’re seeking bargains.

Etsy is a fun place to shop for smaller items with shipping charges that won’t break the bank.

You might also consider shopping on eBay, although the shipping charges for large items may make them less of a bargain than you had hoped.

Get around this problem by using the “Delivery Options” link on the left-side navigation menu and ticking the box next to “Free Shipping.”

Or, search eBay locally. In the same, left-side navigation menu, you’ll find “Item Location,” where you can search only for items located within a specified distance from a ZIP code.

Shopping smart can help you add dramatic changes to your new home, without spending a fortune.

Is mold lurking in your home?

Mold – it’s unsightly (when it’s visible) and it’s unhealthy – and, if it’s in our homes, it is present in every breath we take.

Many of us only think of mold in the cold and damp of winter. But, spring weather can also cause a host of problems in our homes and mold is one of them. Not only that, spring is the ideal time to perform mold remediation, according to the experts.

What is mold and how does it get into our homes?

Molds are microscopic fungi that feed on and break down organic materials. In our homes, “They like cellulose. Most of the material we use to build houses – like sheetrock, ceiling tile, wood,” David Straus, a mold expert with Texas Tech University, explained.

But they need moisture to thrive. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of all the types of mold in the world, “none of them will grow without water or moisture.”

When conditions are right (moisture, temperature and the presence of organic materials) mold will spread by releasing spores.

Mold exposure symptoms

Symptoms of mold exposure can be as mild as those of seasonal allergies to flu-like symptoms and even the loss of equilibrium, trouble breathing and other life-threatening signs.

Asthma-like wheezing, especially in those not previously diagnosed as asthmatic, is a clear sign that mold may be present in the home.

Diagnosing a mold problem in the home

Mold can be apparent (black substances on the walls), or it can be hidden, such as under carpet pads, furniture and wallpaper.

A common misconception is that mold is black. While it often is, it can also be green, pink or appear as white powder.

The most telling sign of a mold infestation in the home is a musty smell, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

How to get rid of mold in the home

The experts at the EPA caution that there is no way to rid the home of all mold, but you can control its growth by ridding the home of excess moisture.

This may be easier said than done, however. As mentioned earlier, it is sometimes challenging to find mold, and to remedy the problem you must find the source.

Begin with the places that most commonly experience leaks, such as around the toilets, showers and sinks. Then, inspect the following:

  • Cracks are notorious for allowing water to seep into the home. Check the walls (especially in the basement) and ceilings and the exterior siding for signs of water intrusion.
  • Check the attic for signs of moisture.
  • Inspect anything stored in boxes, such as clothing.
  • Stored furniture may be harboring mold as well.

Once you’ve rid the home of moisture sources, it’s time to clean up the mold. This can be a DIY project, but health experts suggest that you call in a professional mold remediation company for a large infestation.

If you decide on the DIY solution, wear protective clothing and gear, such as gloves, eye protection and a filtering dust mask. Then, follow the advice of the New York State Department of Health:

  • Dry off all wet or damp surfaces.
  • Remove items with mold from the home and discard them. This includes ceiling tiles, carpeting and drywall.
  • Remove mold from hard surfaces by wiping them down with a solution consisting of ½ cup borax in one gallon of water (you can purchase borax online at amazon.com and it’s often available at Walmart and Target).
  • If the surface is frequently in contact with moisture, use a bleach/water solution (12.8 ounces of bleach with one gallon of water). Keep checking the area for future mold growth and apply the solution again, if needed.

Prevent mold infestations in the home

Prevent mold growth by reducing the amount of indoor humidity in the home. The EPA suggests ensuring that there is adequate ventilation in laundry rooms and bathrooms.

Then, if needed, consider purchasing a de-humidifying system to clear the air of excess moisture.

You can find additional mold information online, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s and at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s websites.