I Used Facebook Marketplace to Furnish My New Apartment for Only $320—Here’s What I Learned

published Dec 2, 2020
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After riding out quarantine in our tiny three-bedroom apartment, my roommates and I decided to break our lease and take advantage of the dropping NYC rent prices, which led to us finding out dream home (at least, for 20-something-year-old renters).

But moving itself isn’t cheap, and it didn’t leave me much cash to purchase the new furniture I wanted to fill my space with. So, I turned to Facebook Marketplace to furnish our new space for the first time, and honestly? I don’t think I’ll ever go back to my old shopping ways again.

I had a few goals going into thrifting: save money, help the environment, and curate my space—and I was able to accomplish all three. I was shocked at the bounty of one-of-a-kind hidden gems that were listed in the same place as ordinary items, and there’s something magical about searching for that one special item to complete your vision. Plus, by nature of thrifting, I was giving old items new life, and that made me proud.

In the end, I was able to get almost everything I needed for this new place for just $320, which definitely felt like a steal. And if you’re considering buying secondhand furniture and decor, I have lots of tips to share.

Credit: Amanda Becker

Create a shopping list 

The first thing I did in my search was compile my shopping list: a living room bookshelf, a clothing rack to turn the spare room into a closet, bar stools, and funky finds were all my top priorities. Once I had my list, I found it was easier to search the depths of the Internet rather than mindlessly scroll. By prioritizing my list in order of must haves to wants, I was able to really focus my time and energy on getting the right pieces. 

Keep in mind there’s no return policy

This ties in with the point above, but it’s important to make sure the item is something you really want. There’s no return policy with a secondhand buy, so I wanted to home in on the aesthetic I was curating as well as functionality. 

Credit: Amanda Becker

Rent a van or truck for big items 

The first real challenge in the search for affordable secondhand goods was figuring out how to pick up big items. Because I live in Brooklyn in NYC, I don’t have a car. After crunching some numbers, my roommate and I realized that renting a U-Haul van for the day to pick up furniture was cheaper than buying bigger items brand new. So, we split the $65 van cost and started our adventure. 

The first score was a $50 Kallax IKEA bookshelf that retails for $119. The next item on our pickup list was a dresser for my roommate—she was ready to spend $70 on it, but one of the drawer tracks was broken so my roommate got it for free.

Keep an open mind and be flexible 

The same woman giving away the dresser was also getting rid of an Elfa closet organizing drawer, which has a face value of $150, for no cost. I was planning to thrift a bookcase for my makeshift cubby closet, but getting this piece for free was too good to pass up. This made me realize that flexibility when thrifting was crucial. By keeping my design vision flexible, I was able to take full advantage of the great deals in front of me. 

Be ready to bargain

The best thing about using sites like Facebook Marketplace is that people are willing to be go down in price. Since a lot of sellers were trying to purge before moving, I was able to knock off $10 from almost every purchase simply by asking and pick up the furniture that same day.

However, I tried not to get too attached to any item I was bidding on before it was mine, just because sellers can and have rejected my offer when trying to bargain. But I wanted to stick to my budget and was willing to let any item out of financial reach go. 

Credit: Amanda Becker

Saving in one room allows to spend in another 

In order to thrift my new space, I decided my bedroom and living room were places that I’d be willing to pay for an aesthetic, and I’d stick to basics for the bathroom and the spare room, which we already decided would be for storage. For those two rooms, it didn’t matter if the clothing racks didn’t match, or if the bookshelf-turned-shoe rack was scuffed. As long as those items could hold our clothes, they would fit perfectly. In total, I only spent $35 on items for the bathroom and spare room, which included a bookshelf and two clothing racks. Consequently, I didn’t even feel guilty about splurging on a $50 record player.

Be patient

My entire vision for my room depended on finding the bohemian rug of my dreams. I was so committed to this hypothetical floor covering that I had even made Pinterest boards specifically inspired by my Turkish or Moroccan rug dreams. After a month of searching, I had almost given up hope—but then, the rug of my dream showed up in my feed.

Originally from Etsy, its faded orange and pink hues blended perfectly with my wooden furniture and burnt orange bedspread. While doing these searches, I would usually bargain—it seemed silly not to try and get some extra savings—but after being burned a few times, I decided to bite the bullet and pay full ask for this beauty. It was totally worth it. 

Itemized list of buys:
West Elm curtain rods: $15
Bar stools (2): $85 
Plants: Free
Clothing rack 1: $10
Clothing rack 2: Free
Record player: $50
Curtains: $25
Bookshelf $50
Shoe bookshelf: $30
Closet organizer drawers: Free
Rug: $50
Poppy painting: $5
Total: $320

Do you have a favorite secondhand home item? Share it with us in the comments below!