And we really do mean free. Free as in, zero dollars. If you're (really, really) strapped for cash but want to spruce up your space, consider one of these budget-conscious options.
1. The Free Section of Craigslist
Craigslist is a great place to find cheap furniture. It can also be a great place to find free furniture. You'll find the "Free" section under the "For Sale" heading on the main page for your city. A quick search in Houston turned up several sofas, a few old-school TVs, a glass display cabinet, a rabbit hutch, and some pallets. You could make anything out of those.
Like Craigslist, except absolutely everything is free. Freecycle is an online forum where people can offer things up to their neighbors instead of throwing them away, and there are groups for almost every city. If you see something you like, act quickly — the good stuff goes fast.
3. A College Campus on Moveout Day
The dumpster of a college dorm on moveout day is a veritable goldmine. You wouldn't believe how much stuff gets thrown away. These treasures might even be worth braving the probably nightmarish parking situation.
4. Curbside on Heavy Trash Pickup Day
Worth checking out if you live in a neighborhood with heavy trash pickup and (like everyone in my family) you have no shame.
And although it's not quite free, here's another idea for getting furniture for (almost) nothing: try stopping by a garage sale towards the end of the day. Chances are the organizers will be eager to get rid of larger items, and may be willing to sell you any furniture that's left for a significantly reduced price.
And don't forget to check your new furniture for bedbugs. You know, just in case.
What are your tips for finding furniture on the cheap?
(Image credits: Mireille and Simon's Unique and Unified Berlin Apartment, photographed by Lydia Brotherton for Apartment Therapy)