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Starting Over on a Dime furniture

From left to right: Krug dining table – a mark of fine furniture,  dining hutch & chairs, awesome birds painted red by yours truly

Change is good. Moving sucks. It just does. It’s expensive, exhausting and did I mention expensive? I moved my family from Vancouver to Victoria a couple of months ago. After living on top of each other in a teeny 2-bedroom apartment on the mainland we were excited to move into our spacious, 3-bedroom townhouse in pretty much the best co-op ever. We left a lot of stuff behind to save money and space in the moving truck. Fresh start, yeah! So, we loaded up the baby, the teen and all our remaining worldly goods and crossed the water to start a new life. It was a smart move, but a costly one. After paying the movers, ferry fare, co-op shares and first month’s rent we were broke. Broke but unbowed.

You see, I had big plans for our new home. I’d been dreaming of a vintage-inspired space furnished with quality pieces and I wasn’t about to let a couple of empty pockets ruin everything. And so, after some intense shuffling, juggling and pilfering I managed to secure $500 to furnish and decorate our new home. That’s a teen’s room, a nursery, a master bedroom, dining room and living room all for the cost of a new La-Z-Boy recliner. I was going to have to make a dollar dance. Hard. Like, Footloose hard. I knew I’d get more bang for my buck shopping second-hand and with kids at home, I’d have to conduct the bulk of my search online. This is when tapped my shoulder and asked to cut in. This is also where the dance analogies end. I promise.

I hadn’t heard of before my brother-in-law started sending me links to stuff from the site. Great, cheap stuff! Within an evening I was hooked. I set up RSS feeds and email alerts and I downloaded the app for my iPhone. I was determined not to miss a deal. Sleep, I could do without. But not that perfect velvet, raspberry, polka-dot sofa! Perhaps this is a good time to reveal I have a slightly obsessive personality… Anyhoo, my mild dip into mania paid off. In two weeks I scored the following:

GRAND TOTAL: $493 (note: some prices were negotiated – shrewd!)

Come on. How good is that? And I came in under budget allowing me to splurge on some red paint for my beloved bird candle holders. The dining room set is my favourite find. It’s beautiful, solid and the table came with two leaves. I can easily imagine my family gathered around it for many years to come. It was also very cool meeting all the sellers. From the empty-nesters who were finally letting go of their newly married daughter’s captain’s bed to the young couple wanting their grandfather’s dining room suite to go to a family instead of a reseller – these used items came with stories. You won’t find that at Ikea.

What’s next? I like a challenge, so I’m going to attempt to finish our semi-finished basement using only free items. I’m in no rush. I will set up my feeds and alerts and bide my time. In the meantime, I’m throwing down the gauntlet! What can you do with $500? $250? Less? I’d love to see  you make that money shake it.

Chatter from the UsedHQ. We're the number one Canadian online classifieds, passionate about keeping items out of landfills, preserving unique curiosities, crafting, upcycling, anything vintage and SAVING MONEY!

9 Responses to “Starting Over on a Dime”

Danielle Olson

Way to go! Looks great! Your taste is divine!


Wendy Vreeken Banham

Good job, Jen! I love second hand (call it vintage if that makes you feel better!). There’s very little in my house I puchased new; I like nothing better than a thrift store deal. My latest dress shoes came from the Sally Ann, at a cost of $4.99 – and get this, they had never been worn! Score! I also recently bought a gorgeous over-sized wooden salad bowl complete with individual serving bowls and claw servers for $20 – score! Reduce, reuse, and recyle – it’s a good thing. And when it comes to furniture, most new stuff is crap.
Good on ya! And keep us posted on your newest challenge.



Who says you need a lot of money to stylishly refurnish. Great article. Best of luck in Victoria.



Great read and I have a new resource .



Nice finds! You’ve put everything together really nicely. I didn’t know about this site until recently, either. It’s great! Let us know what you find for free, I’m super curious!


Amanda Hatton

You should sell those painted birds for a profit, can’t believe you only paid $3!



I’ve been thinking of redoing my living room and I don’t want to spend a lot, nor use an Allen key (no offense, IKEA). Your great, well priced finds have inspired me to do some online searching for second hand furniture. Your place looks great!



Only you could paint the birds red and get away with it. Did I mention in style to boot? I think the best part of buying used is getting to see how others live. An accepted voyeurism, if you will. Looks great!


Norma-Rae Chapman

I love spotting eccletic glass ware and pieces with no rhyme or reason and placing them individually next to a purchace made the previous week. Nothing matches yet everything blends; coming together beautifully and costing barely small change. Second hand cloth napkins and rings from thrift stores are delightful extras at my dinner table. Always use cloth napkins but never pay the price of Pier 1 or Bowering. Ritz Dye will create any look. I look forward to following you Jennifer.


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