So the descriptive overview here is a bit of a lie – we do use our decoration items. Some of them.
Anyway, in this economy, you really can’t afford a lot of knick knacks (although: my grandmother probably had more knick knacks and “dust collectors” than anyone I knew and I’m pretty sure these items made their way to her during the Depression, so who knows). You want to whittle down to your basic needs for a bedroom but still not sacrifice style — at least, we sure did. So that means prioritizing and seriously shopping around for the best deal.
We wanted a handful of items: a bed frame, a mattress for the bed frame (which we did not buy used), night stands, and a dresser. Not a tall order, you’d think.
The bed frame came super easy — after an awful lot of searching around on Craigslist(), we found a bed frame for sale in a nearby-ish area of L.A. that we really liked. The key to searching Craigslist is this: look for furniture for sale by owner and with pictures. There are a few known furniture makers that are still producing good, quality items today (Thomasville, for example) but generally speaking you want stuff made pre-1970. Around the time mass production for furniture cropped up, the quality severely declined, so if you can stomach antiques, it’s really a good idea. Happily for me, I love antiques!
When negotiating with people on Craigslist, make sure you see the item in person first. Odds are, they took some seriously nice photographs and put them online. Best angle, doesn’t show off the missing knob, that kind of thing. Make sure you see it first. This may mean two trips (unless you own a truck, in which case: lucky you!), but it’s better than spending 400 bucks on something that is actually broken.
We also looked around Ebay; shipping costs can be a little bit irritating, but when you take into account that California’s sales tax is something like nine-and-a-half-billion percent, it’s not so bad. The furniture is generally very discounted on Ebay, so something to keep in mind is that you want as many pictures as possible (unless you can drive out to see it).
Quality is important when you shell out money for furniture. When dealing with drawers in any location you want to make sure that they aren’t glued or nailed in; the drawers should connect into each other, like a wedge. You also do not really want to buy soft wood. It’s significantly cheaper, but it’s just not as sustainable. Look for nice, hard woods like mahogany or real cherry. To test it, press your fingernail into the wood; if you can sink it into the piece, it’s soft wood.
We also trolled the antique stores around where we live (which was actually a remarkably bad idea; we wound up buying a really lovely desk when we went in there for a dresser). The best thing to do when looking at furniture? The very best thing? Bring your mom.
Anyway – to conclude, finding furniture you like and furniture that has serious quality behind it is not easy, but if you really plug at it, you’ll eventually find things. And remember that there is always something else popping up on these “used furniture” sites. We’re still kind of looking for a dresser and night stands, but now that we have it down to a fine science, it shouldn’t be so hard.
We didn’t do much with knick knacks, but we do have huge walls that very obviously require SOMETHING. A few very easy things you can do:
Some sort of shelving unit. These are amazingly easy to build on your own (just get wood, paint it, secure it on the wall) but I’m sure they also sell them at Target or something. You can put hooks on it or just place candles. In our house, I imagine the shelf would become a home for books.
Paintings. We really lucked out, we know a painter and asked her to paint a HUGE portrait of a landscape for us. It probably took her forever and we’re infinitely grateful (and it looks lovely), so we have this gigantic image of trees and water on our walls to take up the ridiculous amount of blank blue space.
Furniture (though we covered that already)
Bedspreads were a final touch. I wanted to get seven of them. I was told “No”. We went to a discounted bedding store and here is why: apparently bed sets “go out of style”. What does this mean? How does a white sheet “go out of style”? We have no idea, but evidently they do and when department stores get the new fancy, in vogue junk, discount stores buy up their stock and sell it to me for less money. Given that I don’t care whether or not my bedspread is cool, this worked out perfectly. I think we went to Home Goods, but there are a handful of these around — Anna’s Linens, etc. etc.
While we were there, I found two almost-identical sets of white sheets I really wanted, but after some amount of “reason” entered my brain, we settled on one very cheap set of white sheets and a set of nice ones — two sets of sheets is probably a good idea, just in case one is in the laundry. The duvet cover (and we swore we were done with duvets, but that was clearly a lie) was harder. White seemed a bit boring, blue stripes were ridiculous, so at long last we whittled away the seven sets I thought were appropriate to two. After a very short war, we came away with one. (He won). It was a dark, wine red that I wasn’t convinced would look good (it does).
I imagine that all rooms will always be works in progress, but with the bed in place and the rest of the furniture doping around in cyperspace somewhere (we’ll EVENTUALLY find it) and some paintings on the walls, our bedroom is a really lovely space to come home and rest.