Finding Affordable Furniture for Small Spaces
by Reader Contributors
Short on space and cash? Furnish your small spaces on a small budget with these tips.
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I’m moving to a smaller house. My problem is finding small scale furniture for our downsized living room. All the couches are overstuffed, oversized and overpriced. I have looked all over, including thrift shops, garage sales and retail stores. Even on HGTV, they emphasize and use small scale furniture. When I looked online to find the source of this furniture, it said that it is not available to the public.
What can you suggest besides building my own (which is barely in the possibility column)?
Finding Furniture for Small Spaces on a Small Budget
We reached out to our frugal readers for advice. Read on for the many tips they shared that could help you furnish your small spaces for less.
Buy Small Scale Furniture from Hotels
Has this reader ever tried buying used hotel furniture?
Google “used hotel furniture” or “hotel furniture liquidators.” Some larger cities have a showroom or warehouse to visit. Hotel rooms and suites usually don’t have room for huge, overstuffed pieces, so you’ll find trim, sturdy furniture at low prices, in many different styles.
You could furnish your whole living room like a luxury hotel suite!
Related: The $150 Living Room Makeover
Multitasking Furniture for Small Spaces
I have a small home that was built in 1939 and have this same problem. I think you need to think outside the box. In other words, instead of a full size sofa and loveseat, get two loveseats and place them at a right angle to each other. Or consider a loveseat and two chairs for your living room.
Also, get furniture that can multitask, such as tables with built-in storage underneath or an ottoman that can double as seating. I have a tall lamp that has built in shelves, and this eliminates the need for small occasional tables.
As you noted, it can be hard to find small-scale furniture without having something custom built, but if you focus on creative multi-tasking, you can find something that fits (literally!) the bill.
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Look for Small Scale Furniture at Auctions
Living in a mid-century home, I have the same need for small furniture. Don’t forget to look in used office furniture stores. Smaller chairs and sofas are exactly what comes out of office lobbies and waiting rooms. Slip covers give a fast fresh look, too. (See Inexpensive Alternatives to Buying a New Sofa.)
Also, check out auctions in your area. I am lucky to live in a metropolitan area and several auctioneers in nearby cities bring shipments of antiques from England and France. Both countries are excellent sources of furniture for smaller spaces, and auction prices can be very good. There are also general auctions where many people place all sorts of items in. Many auctioneers have preview pictures available online and are happy to answer questions over the phone before the sale.
Start Your Search for Small Scale Furniture at Craigslist.com
I would recommend checking Craigslist.com for furniture. In your case, Danish modern furniture from the 1950s and 1960s (usually solid wood) might work. It’s also easy to move and vacuum under, and it’s usually less expensive than anything you’d buy new.
If you don’t see what you’re looking for, put a “wanted” ad, detailing what you’d like.
Buy Small Scale Furniture from Mobile Home Outlets
I found smaller furniture at mobile home outlets. For instance, when you look at mobile home dealers, the models are furnished (for display purposes) and many people do not buy the furniture so they store it or sell it at their outlets.
I have found that they are not only smaller, but also light weight and inexpensive, too!
Myrna in Twin Falls, Idaho
Small, Classy and One of a Kind Furniture
I too have a small bungalow and needed furniture that would fit. Older furniture is usually smaller, but still classy and one of a kind. For my living room, I went to an antique auction and picked up two upholstered chairs and a smaller sized couch from the 20s for $350. They have carved wooden legs and are very comfortable. I had them reupholstered for $850 and have a beautiful, functional living room as a result.
For a room over the detached garage that was to be a teen hangout, we found a large selection of furniture from IKEA at great prices. They have a catalog if you don’t have one near you. The very small sectional we bought is cute and contemporary
V. Powers in California
Try Small Scale Dorm Furniture
Look for “dorm” furniture. It is scaled down to fit college dorm rooms, which are notoriously tiny. In the fall, after the big back to school sales, I scored a “klick klack” futon for half price. It was only $49! It folds flat and is the perfect size for a queen sized air mattress, but doesn’t take up much room.
You could also use a loveseat instead of a couch. They are similar, yet about a third smaller.
S. Privratsky in Fargo, ND
Reviewed March 2021
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