How to furnish a vacant apartment on a shoestring…
I jumped through the hoops and I got the apartment – the vacant apartment. It does come with appliances for which I am grateful, not to mention ecstatic about the bathtub. I adore luxuriating in a bath and have not had a tub to soak in for quite some time. My sister gave me bubble bath and incense. Connie brought me a scrumptious bar of scented soap. Lynn showed up with candles and pink bath sponges. Life is good!
I had not seen the apartment until after I signed the lease. Nor did I know the location. There are rules against that. I was hoping for the top floor facing the beautiful courtyard. I had a tinge of disappointment when I saw the apartment was on the middle floor overlooking the parking lot, I had to remind myself that it was a far cry better than my alternatives.
Hey, the complex offers free WiFi. Pandora Radio and Netflix would keep me company! Plus, I did have a Boom Box. The rest would come.
My friend, Sally – Realtor, Artist, and Home-Stager extraordinaire – texted: “Hi, Carole! Did you get the apartment? I have some furniture for you!”
Connie, a friend since the old airline days, called, “A friend of mine sold her house and has some furniture left over from the moving sale. I rescued a gorgeous wing-back recliner and some beautiful end tables. I have a desk for you that belonged to my mom. You’re a writer – you must have a desk!”
Lynn and Lucas came laden with goodies – wine, lamps, wine, pillows, wine, blankets, wine, and the most beautiful set of seafoam bath towels as a house-warming gift. And wine.
My kids sent some much-needed start-up money.
Marcel spent an entire day moving nightstands and more from Sally’s storage to my apartment.
Victoria loaded my car with kitchen-ware, area rugs, pillows, and more.
Billy drove his reliable old truck all the way to San Francisco to pick up a bookcase, which was secured by Marisa, my beautiful God-daughter, and delivered it to Capitola. Two days later he drove from San Ramon to pick up a dining table and chairs, for which he paid and refused to let me reimburse him.
Anne called and volunteered a vacuum cleaner and some never-been-used area rugs. I was driving only two blocks away when she called. I hadn’t seen her in two years, but “she heard!” I stopped in for a big hug, words of encouragement, and the goods.
My mom, who lives in Costa Rica, said to go into her storage shed and take whatever I need.
My sister brought me the most perfect butter dish with a pig cover. I was born in the year of the pig – a fire-pig, which explains a lot.
Marissa, my fabulous niece, arranged for me to have a reliable, affordable car.
British Linda – well … sent me on my way with Waterford candlestick holders, Waterford Martini glasses, and, and, and … generous beyond words.
I have become an expert on Freecycle, Craigslist, and the Flea Market at the old Skyview Drive-in site in Soquel. You might be surprised by some of the good goods people are willing to give you, if you are willing to cart it away. Plus, you meet some really cool people!
I have been on both ends of Freecycle, https://www.freecycle.org whose philosophy is:
Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,269 groups with 9,080,451 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!
Craigslist has a “free stuff” category under the “For Sale” column. If you play your cards right, even the Garage Sale People will give stuff away at the end of the sale rather than haul the unsold items to Goodwill or Grey Bears. I’ve seen beautiful couches, chairs, and dining sets offered for free. You just have to be ready with a truck and some friends to help. The good pieces go fast!
I got a beautiful leather sofa for next-to-nothing by being the first responder. I emailed the selling party and got a reply seconds later. Wow, you are quick! I just posted this thirty seconds ago! I’m new to Craigslist. How does this work?
I replied, “What’s your address? I’ll be right over. If I like it, I’ll give you money and find a guy with a truck to pick it up ASAP. Okay?”
In addition to these sources, I have become a regular at the Dollar Tree. There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t be caught dead at the Dollar store. Or the Flea Market. If I did go, I disguised myself and hoped I didn’t see anybody I knew. Times have changed. Now, it’s cool to be frugal and to make a game out of how to stretch a dollar. Or, at least that’s the world I’m living in at this time in my life. Yes, I am living on a fixed income and learning how to barter. I shop at thrift stores and peruse the bargain bin at the local vegetable stand. I look for the “reduced for quick sale” section in the refrigerator case of Nob Hill. It’s fun, really!
It wasn’t long ago when I was on the other end of the spectrum. When I moved to Miami after living in Santa Cruz for over twenty years, I dissolved a four bedroom home, sold off the furnishings, and gave lots of stuff away. It filled me with joy to give a twelve-place set of Lenox china with twenty-four carat gold borders to my nail technician. It wasn’t until later, I found out it was valued at $500.00 per place setting. That she appreciated the gift, evidenced by the look on her face when she opened the box, was all the thanks I needed. Look how much has come back to me so many years later.
With a lotta help from my friends, this phoenix has risen from the ashes once again. Wings are spread and fixing to fly high.
I now have a happy home where my friends and family are welcome. Come onna my house and I will bake you a cake and give you matzoh ball soup, not necessarily in that order!