Recent bargain finds (plus a peek into my thrifty brain)

Today I thought I’d share a few bargains I found recently that are helping me transform my living room into a space similar to the decor inspiration I’ve collected. As always, I’m working to do it all for pennies on the dollar. (Stick around after the photos because I’m sharing the three main questions I ask myself before making purchasing decisions.)


I almost passed out from excitement when I discovered my favorite discount store, Gabe’s, is currently selling fabric remnants. I got four yards of the high-end decorator fabric above for under $10 total! I’m planning on using this gorgeous fabric to make a few pillows and a valance for the kitchen window. (By the way, I still can’t believe I found that chair for free along the side of the road.)

Speaking of pillows, the one in the photo above was $7.99 at Gabe’s. It is 20″x20″ and seems to work great with the living room decor. I would be hard-pressed to find a new pillow this size (or even to make one) for that price. Interestingly, I remember looking at the same exact fabric the pillow is made from at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store a little over a year ago. I think it was about $10 per yard at the time.


The blue throw blanket was $9.99 on clearance at Kohl’s. I also had a coupon for an additional 30 percent off, bringing the total down to about $7.

Hickory-floor chair

The oil painting was $25 on clearance at HomeGoods. This thing is huge! I checked and checked and couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I’m not quite sure why it was so cheap, but it looks great in my space. 🙂


The blue pillow on the leather chair was $2.99 at Gabe’s. Yes, $2.99 people! I wish I could have found two more of these for my couch. But after breaking a sweat digging through bins of pillows, then discovering my toddler was using a pile of clearance washrags as his personal tissues, I abandoned the search.

3 questions I ask myself before buying home decorations

OK, so a lot of people ask how I’m able to get stuff for my home so inexpensively. Honestly, there is no real science to it. But there are a few key principles I follow, which begin with me asking myself some tough questions.

1. Do I love this enough to let it take up space in my home and add to my cleaning responsibilities?

This may sound like a heavy question considering I may just be looking at a candle holder or lampshade, right? But here’s the deal: There are so many lovely things out there that catch my eye. If I brought them all home, I’d be broke and ready for an episode of “Hoarders.” So I must be extremely intentional about the decorating choices I make.

My goal is to look around my home and feel peaceful and proud (most of the time ;)). After all, it is my haven. For me to purchase something that will be in my line of sight for the next however many months or years, it had better be’ If it’s not, I don’t buy it. Period. This curbs a lot of unnecessary spending and helps me avoid buyer’s remorse.

2. How (or where) can I get this for less?

If I find that one thing I can’t live without, I move on to this question. This is where patience and coupons, internet deals, free shipping, etc. come into play. If I’m not comfortable with the sticker price of an item (I rarely am), I engage my thrifty mojo to see what I can do to get that item for way cheaper. This usually means waiting for it to go on sale, then stacking coupons and deals on top of it. As Dave Ramsey would say, after I see the sticker price, I chant, “That’s not good enough!”

Many times, stacking deals and waiting for sales still don’t bring the price down low enough for me to feel comfortable buying something. So instead, I’ll hunt for a similar item online or at a discount store that has the same basic look or feel of the piece I desire, but at a fraction of the cost.

3. Can I make this or recreate something similar out of what I already own?

This is an important question to answer because, obviously, there are many times when I just can’t afford the item I want no matter how far and wide I hunt. This is when the creative juices really start flowing. (For a little more background about my DIY brain, check out my 10 random things about this blogger post.)

This is also when I go into my DIY zone. I brainstorm, research and hunt through my house … the backyard … the neighbor’s backyard … wherever … to collect materials that might be able to be turned into something similar to what I want. This process often takes a lot of thought and effort because I can’t really afford to waste money on project fails. Plus some of these projects require a high skillset and large investment of time. I try to be realistic about my own abilities and time obligations. I’ve gotten better at this over the years.

When things don’t work out

If I can’t find or buy the materials to make something super cheap, I abandon the whole idea and move on. Sometimes all the stars align months later and an opportunity arises for me to make or buy an item at the right price. The important thing is that I try not to rush a project or get my heart set on a particular item. Trends and my tastes are always evolving, so it’s not the end of the world if I have to go without something. (At least, this is what I tell myself. ;))

So there you have it, a peek inside this weirdo’s thrifty brain. For more information on frugal decorating, check out LROL Podcast Episode #003: Seasonal decorating for less – 10 strategies.

If you’re a fellow thrifty, what tips or tricks do you have for getting cheap home decorations? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

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6 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Torma says:

    Love the color scheme and your “finds” add so much to pulling the room together. Wish I had a Gabe’s near me!

  2. Donna Gibson says:

    Bargain! I always ask the owner, “Is this the best you can do?” and if an item is $10, I ask “Would you take $6?” Figure a price a little more than half of the asking price. Many times, they will dicker with the price and say, “I can go as low as $7” or they take your price. I grab it and go with it.
    Sometimes an asking price is too much, and if you see a similar item much much cheaper somewhere else which you bought for say $5, and this duplicate item at this other place is $10, you can always say, “I just got an identical piece for $5 at so and so. Would you match this price? Usually, they will do it.
    Second hand stores are a great place to find bargains, as well as yard sales, and community yard sales.
    Happy hunting!

  3. Liliana Wells says:

    I am at that age when I have everything I need. I see pretty things out there that I would like; but do I really need them? Like you, I wait a while to see if my desire passes. Most of the time it does. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get an item. The other thing I think about is, considering my age, do I really want to take care of it, dust it, water it or whatever you. If everybody went through a similar thinking process that you and I go through, just think of the money a family could save.

  4. Eva says:

    I liked this post. It would be nice to buy exactly what we want when we see it regardless of price, but I think living with the idea of something while working to get it for less makes us appreciate the end result. BTW, your floors are beautiful. I know you are enjoying them. My knees hurt just thinking about the installation process! Also, thank you for the kind comment when I lost Gracie. I genuinely appreciate it.


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