When Moving Isn’t An Option: Reinvent

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Making my home feel like a place of rest and comfort is a huge priority. I can’t wake up in the morning and feel stressed when I walk into the main area. It has to be neat and look a certain way. I don’t mean the pillows have to be straight, but rather I’m speaking of the feel of the room. Lately that hasn’t been the case in our home and I’ve set out to slowly change that in thoughtful and frugal ways.

For the last few months, my husband and I thought we may be relocating to another part of LA about twenty minutes from where we currently live. It’s quieter, cleaner, safer and has beautiful suburbs. We wanted to upgrade to renting a house and give my husband the kind of office space he desires. I had been on the fence about it, though it did seem like the right choice in a lot of ways. However, I didn’t want to increase our rent, which seemed next to impossible if we wanted a third bedroom. Then we got the news that my husband’s job was switching from working at home to commuting to an office. That is was completely unexpected, but somewhat of a relief in many ways! Working from home has its advantages, but it lacks a collaborative environment and it’s easy to go stir crazy when locked up in your apartment five days a week. The kicker is: the job would be three miles from our current place. It would make no sense to then move further away and lengthen his new commute. Not to mention we have one vehicle and so he’d undoubtedly have to take public transportation some days. We know the route from his previous job and it’s very easy on the bus.

So, we decided to stay put for now. This is obviously the most cost-effective decision not only in the long-run (skipping the increase in rent), but also avoiding any costs associated with moving and redecorating for a new space. In light of that, I decided to start making a few changes around our apartment. I am working on one room at a time and started with the living area. We sold our couch and end tables (yay! for those who were following the struggle) and bought a new one that matches our Restoration Hardware chair in the back room. Craigslist came through after all! I knew he was my loyal friend. The new one was also a CL find too good to pass up, which is why we bought it before selling the first one. Heavily marked down because it came with dog scratches galore, we bought it anyway and then used this amazing substance to restore it. I can’t tell there were ever any blemishes. And the ones you can see simply add to the rustic look of the leather. We also knocked a couple hundred more off the price just by asking. I had been tracking this person’s postings and noticed he had reduced the price by three hundred dollars from one day to the next. This told me he was getting desperate to sell. A little healthy consumer stalking never hurt anyone!

Pro Tip for apartment dwellers: whenever purchasing an expensive piece of furniture, I think about it going with other pieces we own. Even if they are not currently in the same room; when you move, they may need to be. It will save you redecorating money in the long run!

With both pieces we’ve sold so far we received less money than we were hoping. It helps that it partially pays us back for what we spent on the new stuff, which is better than nothing. Ideally, one could redecorate an entire room this way, which was my goal when we started out. The only debt you want when doing this sort of thing is debt to yourself– in other words, I still hope to pay ourselves back for these cash purchases by selling stuff we own. If I don’t meet that goal, I still have the comfort of knowing I got the best possible deal, saving literally thousands of dollars on a quality used piece of furniture.

There are also a lot of small and inexpensive ways to make your home more inviting and relaxing without a complete overhaul. For example, any time I buy flowers and put them in a vase, I am instantly happier when I walk in the room and see them. Or I recently bought a tablecloth for the first time and it’s amazing what a lovely touch that can make to the patio! I’ve found the same to be true with smaller decorative pieces and appliances. What kind of frugal and creative upgrades do you have in your home to make it a more comfortable living space?

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