So I don’t really have an actual toolbox (I steal things from my husband’s), but these are my go-to stores for decorating.
1 – CHECK THRIFTING SOURCES
Thrift Stores, Garage Sales, Craigslist, etc.
There’s a secret code in my family. If someone says “where did you get that” & you respond “I have my sources” that means its thrifted. It also means “sorry but you won’t find one like it!” That’s what I love about thrifting. Not only does it save you TONS of money, but what you are getting is completely unique. What’s one person’s junk is another person’s treasure! Now if you are looking for something specific & need it quick, this is not always the best route. I hit up these stores/sites regularly just to browse & this is how I’ve ended up w/a lot of the items in my house. It’s taken a while, but I enjoy the hunt & story behind everything. I also love spending next to nothing!
2 – BIG-BOX STORES W/SALES
I love online shopping & do it all the time, even for really big furniture! There’s a reason though why I tend to stick to stores that have a storefront I can easily drive to: returns. I would personally rather carry an item that didn’t work to a customer service desk than disassemble, repackage & deal with the hassles & wait time of shipping it back.
Most don’t really think about Kohl’s as being a go-to for decor or furniture but their online inventory is huge & has a nice variety of brands & prices. The main reason I shop here is their percentage coupons (HELLO 30%!), rewards points & Kohl’s cash offers. I’m not going to lie, I have become pretty good at “working the system” there (when I do a post on this I’ll link it here)!
Return policy: did you know you can return items you bought online in store, even if its fully assembled furniture that they don’t sell in the store? Their return policy is one of the best around, & they don’t even require a receipt. Once I returned a set of sheets w/out their packaging (literally folded in a grocery bag) & w/out the proof!
We all know Target has an interior design presence in the store. This is my go-to when I want a specific item or pattern that is more “trendy” since they have partnerships w/a lot of designers. However, it can still be hit or miss b/c I find that some things are a tad pricey, even for Target. So the key is waiting until they go on sale & sometimes they have coupons for home items. Their online store also has a larger inventory!
Return policy: same w/Kohl’s where you can return online items which I find so convenient. With some exceptions, they are also pretty good about returning anything.
One word: 20% off coupons. Did you know you can use as many coupons as you want in one transaction? You can have a coupon for each item AND they take expired ones! I have recently used coupons from 2012. The $5 off $15 are great for smaller items & they recently started issuing ones for $10 off $30. Again, a much bigger online presence than in store, especially for furniture.
Return policy: their best return feature, in my opinion, is that you can ask to get the coupon back that you used for the item (it requires a manager’s signature). Also, if you bought something & forgot to use a coupon, just bring in the receipt later & they will apply the coupon & give you a refund. I can’t think of any other store that will do this!
Not everybody likes Walmart, but let me give them some credit. Their online store has some very good home finds that look like you spent more than you did. It’s where I look for things like simple, but functional bookshelves, frames, mirrors, etc. All these items get mixed & layered in the room so to me it doesn’t mater if they’re not made of expensive materials.
Return policy: they have a new app feature where you can start a return on your phone & when you get to the store you can get into an express line. This is a big plus b/c they seem to always only have one person at customer service, am I right? They also do not require a receipt!
3 – COMPARE BEFORE SETTLING
My rule is to keep the packaging for at least a week until an item becomes a permanent part of my home. I have two reasons for this: for one, I am a visual person. I have to see the piece in the room & am sometimes wrong about what I thought would work! I like having the flexibility of trying things knowing I don’t have to commit, & sometimes I’ll buy multiple styles of the same item & return all the rejects.
The second is budget. There are often many versions of what you are looking for at other stores that may be cheaper. I often purchase an item, try it in my house & make sure its the right fit & then before committing, check all the above sources (including Amazon) to see if I can find it (or something very similar) cheaper. This sounds like a lot of work, but its worth it to see that money saved!