Since I started MDB, I've received many comments from people wanting to know how I am able to find so many incredible bargains for my home on such a regular basis. I developed a list of tips I've learned from my experiences to share with you.
We are fortunate to be decorators in a time where there are so many valuable resources for frugal home design - yard sales, thrift stores, estate sales, auctions, moving sales, Craig's List, and my all-time favorite - the curb.
* Some of my most valuable treasures came from someone's trash. Trash-picking is not only acceptable these days, but with so much concern about the environment, it is also responsible. I have gotten out of my car in broad daylight, dressed in my Sunday best, and sorted through trash. I'm not talking about digging through bags, but rather "piles".
* Look for the "For Sale" signs. That is a good indication that the pile is just extra stuff that the movers don't want to bring with them. I have found beautiful urns, garden decor, planters, frames, lamps, stationary, gift wrap, gift bags, chandeliers, antique furniture and much, much more, all in perfect condition, and all in someone's trash. Don't be afraid to try it.
* Scour Craig's List!!! Do not waste your time with bidding on Ebay. There was a time when you could find a good bargain on Ebay, but not anymore. Ebay has become saturated, but Craig's List is all about timing. If you scour the ads on a regular basis, you can find bargains on anything for your home - furniture, materials, lighting, rugs, paint, fixtures and more. But being the first to act is key. If you see something you think you may be interested in, Bookmark it. But if you see something you can't live without, respond immediately. This is especially true for Antiques. And don't give up. People are busy and may not get back to you right away. That doesn't always mean that your item is sold.
* Yard Sales are the number one resource for finding accessories for your home. People are constantly switching out there accessories. It's the cheapest way for them to get a new look for a room without replacing expensive furniture pieces. So let THEM buy the accessories at full price, and when it's time for them to switch out, being at their yardsale is your chance to scoop it up for much, much less.
* Be prepared! Map out your route the night before and if you can, bring a GPS.
* Don't be afraid to haggle at yard sales, it is expected. And don't take it personally if you get rejected. Just move on to the next one.
* Moving Sales are a great place to score decent furniture on the cheap. People get transferred all the time, and can't always take their furniture with them from place to place, so let their loss be your gain.
* Estate Sales are an excellent resource for antique lovers. Rather than wasting your money at antique stores where the pieces are way overpriced (chances are, they got their stuff from an Estate Sale anyway), scour the ads for Estate Sales in your area. Depending on who is running the sale, you may have to wait in line. But don't be intimidated. Just be patient, and if you see something you like, pick it up and hold onto it until you check out.
* Do a google search for auctions in your area. It's easy to get intimidated if you are not familiar with the inner workings of an auction. But there are different types of auctions. Some are very informal and others are more hard core. Either way, they require nothing more than getting a number and throwing your arm up in the air when you want to bid. Easy peasy! You may want to try an informal auction first just to get your feet wet. Be sure to stay alert and if you see something you like, just stay with that piece, no matter where the rest of the auction goes. The more wandering you do, the more likely you are to lost out. Also, be aware of the fees included at your auction house before bidding
* Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, don't be a forcer. Nothing wastes more time and money than "forcing". This is a common decorating mistake that many people make, whether it be a piece of furniture, an accessory or a design trend. If something doesn't work or flow in a space today, it probably won't feel any better tomorrow. Trusting your instincts will help you to make better design decisions, which in the end will save you precious time and money. So whatever it is, RETURN IT! That's what receipts are for.