How To Furnish an Apartment for $0

1. Get a roommate. Make sure your roommate comes with a loveseat, a kitchen table, a coffee table, and one chair that she found in a dumpster.

2. Have a friend who’s about to get married. Take her soon-to-be husband’s old twin bed. He doesn’t need it anymore.

3. Find a reasonably priced dresser on Craigslist. Find out too late that the owner had to be out of the apartment by noon and left it on the back staircase for you. Look everywhere for it; finally ask a man in a blue jumpsuit eating a sandwich in the courtyard if he’s seen it. He appears to be some kind of waste management worker. “A white dresser?” he asks in heavily accented English. “We smashed it.” He points to the dumpster. Do not pay the owner. 

4. See on Facebook that an acquaintance is selling two bookcases for $10. When you go to collect them, her roommate says she’s already moved. Wracked with guilt, email her asking for an address so you can mail her the $10. Turns out she just moved elsewhere in the city; she says you can just buy her a beer sometime and call it even. Never see her again.

5. Inadvertently break one of the bookcases while loading your U-Haul. Drag it into an alley to abandon it. Find a dresser and a wooden chair back there and appropriate them.

6. Only ever work on your bed, so you don’t need a desk. Your bedroom is now complete.

7. Acquire other essentials from your roommate’s relatives: a TV and an overly firm green polka-dotted couch that you name, “The Great Stone Dragon.”

8. Live contently for a couple months.

9. Become embarrassed that your guests’ only seating options in your kitchen are the dumpster chair, the alley chair and a large Tupperware bin.

10. Make a New Year’s resolution to buy kitchen chairs.

11. Do not follow through.

12. Eventually one of your friends will move away, perhaps to become a professor at the University of Nebraska, and you will acquire a free set of kitchen chairs and a bookcase upon his departure. This will be entirely your roommate’s doing.


Previously: Scenes from a Pizza Parlor 

Julie Beck did, however, fork over cash for a painting of unicorns grazing in a lagoon that now hangs over her fireplace. Photo: Flickr/longlostcousin


11 Comments / Post A Comment

Ahh me too. I’ve purchased exactly one piece of furniture, a sort of shelf-and-drawer piece that I’m sure was part of a bunk bed set. I have been debating buying a new couch when I move into my house but I might just invest in some slipcovers for the time being.

Dancercise (#94)

This is why I have lived in my apartment for 14 months and still have no kitchen table or chairs.

thewurst (#435)

I have a lot of amazing furniture, almost all of which was free. The few things I’ve bought were purchased at ikea. Here’s my dilemma. I am moving to New York for graduate school, and I know I need to just let go of some of my awesome furniture, but I will also need things to sit on/store things in. What’s y’all’s recommendation for what to purge and what to keep (in a general sense as you don’t know the contents of my apartment)?

Mike Dang (#2)

@thewurst I moved to New York with nothing but two suitcases, and then was able to furnish my apartment for less than $500 by scouring Craigslist. There are a ton of people in New York with nice furniture who decide they don’t want to live here anymore or have to leave the city for a job elsewhere, or a million other reasons—and they are willing to sell you their nice furniture for a steep discount. I say keep the furniture that actually means something to you, and sell the rest of it.

@thewurst Are you me? I’m moving to New York to start grad school myself. I’m moving out of my last apartment previously filled to the brim with beautiful secondhand furniture. Sell everything. I am taking my bedside table for sentimental reasons, and that’s it.

@thewurst Also, how are you approaching your apartment search? New place, or room off of craigslist?

thewurst (#435)

@Mike Dang @myrna.minkoff Thanks for for the advice. Now to figure out what’s meaningful. I guess if I have to think about whether it’s meaningful, then it isn’t though. My biggest problem is the amount of records and art by friends that I have. That’s all that’s really meaningful.

@myrna.minkoff My friend that I’m moving up with (also going to grad school) and I are figuring that out now. We’d like to live together, but it all seems a little overwhelming. And we’re moving up from Alabama, so it’s a pretty substantial distance.

You realize we need a picture of said unicorns.

*Sees headline, rushes in to remind new New Yorkers that we’re going through a bedbug epidemic here, you really wanna be careful accepting furniture from strangers, and NEVER take furniture or even books from off the street.*

@Nick Douglas@facebook

I know! Bugs! Ahhh.

We’ve probably spent <$1k on furniture. You’d think after six years on my own I’d have everything? Nope. Years of flatting and flitting from various sizes and degrees of furnished dwellings has wreaked havoc on my possessions. We recently moved from a studio to a 1.5 bedroom house. The extra stuff we needed came from friends, TradeMe and a generous gift card scored via work.

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