I recently moved from a tiny, $1,300/month, 350-square-foot studio in Brooklyn to a massive, sprawling one-bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh. I think it’s around a million square-feet, or at least it feels like it.

When I left New York City, I didn’t have much furniture. My new home needed basic items like a couch, a coffee table and a dining room set, and I really wanted to find items that weren’t horrible to look at and inexpensive.

Disclaimer: I know thrifting isn’t for everyone. There are some people who are grossed out by the idea of using other people’s stuff, and that’s fine. I personally don’t mind, and (fingers crossed) have yet to contract bed bugs or a highly-infectious disease from secondhand furniture or clothing.

A second disclaimer: I’m not an expert in interior design, nor do I post cool pics of creative ideas on sites like Pinterest. This is simply how I avoid eating/sleeping/sitting on the floor of a furniture-less apartment.

Here are some of the items I use (part one):

Dining room table

I never had the luxury of a dining room table in any of my Manhattan or Brooklyn apartments. I usually ate meals on my bed like a sad college student. This table once belonged to my parents! They picked it up at a garage sale years ago and my siblings and I used it when we were kids. My mom added a few coats of gray paint and it looked brand new. I love furniture with some history. 🙂

Price: $45, sometime during the 1990s, garage sale

Coffee table

I found this gem at Goodwill! Someone left a pile of Milky Way candy bar wrappers inside one of its storage compartments, but it cleaned up nicely. There are four shelves for items like books and magazines. Sometimes I eat pizza or tacos on it.

Price: $15, Goodwill

End table

I love this table. It’s a hexagon shape with three open sides. It’s made of real wood, not particle board.

Price: $5, Goodwill

Decorative table

Part of living in a grown-up apartment is owning furniture that doesn’t serve a purpose. I found this small table at a garage sale several years ago and my mom spray-painted it white. I love its curved edges and I think its flaws add character. The center mirror was another Goodwill find – it was originally gold, but I painted it silver.

Price: $5, 2008-ish, garage sale

Shelf/Television stand

I plan to hold off buying a TV for as long as I can, so right now I’m using this shelf for photo frames. 

Price: $6, Goodwill

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