Where I Shop for Decorating Stuff | Reader Q & A

Lovely reader Aranthza wrote in,
"Hi I'm about to start college and I love the way you've decorated your apartment! I was just wondering where you like shopping for stuff to decorate your apartment!"

Well, Arantha... I really shop around. ;) I'd like to say that I live near enough to an Urban Outfitters and Ikea or that I have the budget for Anthropologie.  While I drool over decor items from all three of those places, the truth is that I've never shopped at any of them.  Instead, I get crafty and creative at what is nearby and within my college student income.

Target - Target is my all-time favorite one-stop decor shop.  And their home brands and lines just keep getting better!  (I wish they'd bring back Liberty of London for Target!)  It's my go-to store for curtains, bedding, lamps and lamp shades, baskets, storage bins, candles, trays, shower curtains, stationary, desktop storage, and decorating accessories like vases, figurines, and pretty boxes.  The prices are great, especially when you can catch stuff on clearance.  Scouring the clearance aisles for dirt cheap candles, stationary, and decor accessories is one of my favorite past-times.

TJ Maxx - TJ Maxx comes in at a close second, only because I've usually had to drive at least thirty minutes to get to one.  Not any more!  A TJ Maxx just opened up in my town, so you can bet I'll be scouting out the decor department as soon as my wallet permits me to.  The reasons I love TJ's are very much the same as the reasons for loving Target.  Great stuff, great deals.  I found my beautiful floral quilt at a TJ Maxx for a fraction of what quilts at Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters cost.  I'm in bliss when browsing the clearance section at TJ's, some of my favorite finds being: a jewelry divider tray, tea cup and saucer, and pretty, quilted laptop cover.

Walmart - While Walmart isn't one of my favorite places to shop for decor, I do find myself there from time to time mainly because of the convenience and prices.  I go here for basics: different colored sheets to swap on and off my bed often, simple curtains, candles, lamp shades, storage bins, baskets, and fabric.

Antique/Vintage/Retro Stores - I have many favorite shops back in my hometown and the surrounding small towns: Osky Antiques, The Antique Peddler, The Crow's Nest, O'Town Antiques, and several others that I just can't recall the names of.  (Small town antique stores are really the best!  You'll find the most unique stuff and best prices compared to popular big stores or flea markets!)  Up here in Ames you'll catch me in One Man's Junk, Tangerine Zebra, Random Goods, Great Stuff, and Vintage Pickers. In the Des Moines area, I like to hit up West End Architectural Salvage, Found Things, the Brass Armadillo, and Porch Light antiques.  What have I bought from antique stores?  Where do I begin?!  Typewriters, vintage fans, 1920 copper space heater, Roman bust, old books, old suitcases, deer figurines, fat little bird figurines, picture frames, mirrors, Ball mason jars, turquoise glass electrical insulators, vintage toolboxes, vintage clock radios, jewelry, paintings, photos, and lots and lots of furniture.  I'm a bit of an antique/vintage shop addict. ;)

Goodwill/Thrift/Consignment Stores - Another favorite decor shopping destination of mine is secondhand stores.  If you're lucky, you can find things you'd normally find in an antique or vintage store for much cheaper prices.  Most of the time, I scope out items that I can revamp with some spray paint.  I often looks for file organizers, magazine racks, tins, baskets, trays, and candle holders.  Sometimes I also come across unique kitchen wares, pretty glasses, picture frames, and mirrors.  Once at the Goodwill back in my hometown, I scored a pair of beautiful, vintage, green and turquoise damask, floor length window drapes in perfect condition for an excruciatingly low price.  I squealed and bought them on the spot.  I have on occasion purchased furniture from consignment shops as well---just be sure it's in good condition and avoid the upholstered stuff just in case of unwanted pests like bedbugs.

Yard Sales - Garage and yard sales can yield surprising finds.  I'm always on the lookout for vintage furniture and accessories.  My dad bought me a typewriter at a yard sale in South Dakota for less than a dollar.  When he told couple running the sale that his daughter (me) collected vintage typewriters, they GAVE him another one for free.  That free typewriter happened to be a big Underwood still in working condition.

Craigslist - I've purchased a lot of furniture off of Craigslist.  My bedroom furniture is a distinct French provincial style from the 60's and 70's that I absolutely adore.  I had an entire bedroom suite when I was little, but got rid of it as a teenager.  Ever since then, I've been trying to track pieces down.  While I found one desk and two nightstands from antique stores, I found two dressers, two desks, one bookshelf, and a four-poster bed in that style all from Craigslist.  My top tips:  Go back and forth with the seller to ensure they're not scamming you.  Don't meet them alone.  Take a friend, preferably a guy friend or boyfriend.  Deal in cash.  Don't have them come to you.  If they want to deliver, have them meet you in a public parking lot.  Common sense can save you from the creepers on Craigslist.

Other places I shop include: Etsy, Pier1, a gift store back in my hometown, Kmart, HomeGoods, and dollar stores on occasion.  I rarely rule anything out.  Cheap finds from dollar stores and Kmart can be updated with a little diy work.  Yard sale and consignment finds can be transformed with a couple coats of spray paint.  I rarely buy anything at full price.  I honestly can't remember the last time I actually bought something that wasn't on sale or clearance.  As far as my artwork goes, I create most of that myself. 

I believe that about sums up where I shop for decor on a twenty-something budget.  Clearance finds and creative diy ideas are really the key to successfully shopping anywhere.  You don't have to afford Anthropologie or live near Ikea and Urban Outfitters to dwell in style.  (Although I wouldn't complain if the great state of Iowa had at least one of those stores! Haha.)

Questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Leave 'em below! :)

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