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How I Saved $860 On Furniture For My First Apartment

How I Saved $860 On Furniture For My First Apartment


About a month before I moved, my brother offered me his Ikea furniture from his extra bedroom. I was like “oh yeah, jackpot”, but quickly realized that it would cost more to transport the furniture from Nashville to Buffalo to DC than the furniture would be worth.

But, with some creative thinking, I came up with a new idea. I took the bedroom furniture from my brother’s room at home, since he no longer lives there, and repainted it. The furniture is 20+ years old so my parents had no problem with me giving it some new life. I used Annie Sloan chalk paint because you don’t need to sand + prime; I’ve used it in the past and had great results. I took my childhood desk, which was originally black but has since been painting light blue using chalk paint, to re-finish as well. Here are some photos of the furniture before it was painted (the desk photo shows the original blue color - I didn't snap a picture of the whole desk before I started painting).

I chose to go with pure white for the chest + nightstand because the walls in my apartment are a cream-ish yellow with white trim, plus the bed I wanted to buy was white! For my desk, I did pure white on the bottom + the top section with graphite. I used a soft wax for all of the pieces + added new pulls to modernize the pieces as well. 

Some tips on the painting process using the Annie Sloan paint:

  • Wipe everything down first to get all of the dust + grime off because otherwise your paint might get chunky with dust.
  • It’s better to go with more light coats than fewer heavier coats (for both paint + waxing)
  • Don’t be afraid to sand sections if the paint is discolored there or if the paint gets gloppy.
  • Paint with the grain of the wood for a better look.
  • The wax, even the soft one, will change the color a bit so be prepared when you start waxing.
  • See if a retailer in your area sells the paint in store because it’ll be cheaper to get instead of having it shipped to you (most likely).

Here are some "during photos":

I really enjoyed the painting process because it was very methodical + almost therapeutic. I listened to the Adulthood Made Easy podcast, How I Built This podcast, and Old Dominion’s new album as I painted which made it 10x more fun! (P.S., I talk about both of the aforementioned podcasts on my post here about fall inspirations). Here are the after shots before I moved the pieces to DC:

If you bring furniture to your new place on a long journey, make sure to wrap it VERY well using sheets, ropes, and more to ensure it’s safety during the journey. I also brought a tiny container of chalk paint with me to do touch ups which were much needed. 

One unexpected benefit of bringing this furniture to my new apartment was that it provides a sense of familiarity for me. Sitting down at my desk or opening my drawer chest takes me back to my childhood bedroom, which is a feeling of nostalgia and comfort during this transition period. Finally, here are the pictures of the pieces in my new apartment: 

Here is a breakdown of my costs for the pieces to give you a better idea on how much money I saved:

  • Annie Sloan paint: $40
  • Annie Sloan wax: used leftover from a previous project
  • Paint brushes: had on hand
  • New knobs: about $20 for 14 (I kept the ones from my desk)

I transported the pieces in a U-Haul that my parents generously decided to get in order to bring the pieces down, but the costs for transportation are varied depending on the size + amount of pieces along with distance to travel, if any.

Overall, I spent around $60 on this project. I couldn’t find exact prices for the pieces I painted because they are all pretty old, but I estimated that new furniture for a desk, chest of 6 drawers, and nightstand would run around $920 for similar pieces brand new. My savings from the project are: $860, which is an incredibly large sum of money for someone just starting out at her first job. I encourage you to think about easy ways like this to save money when moving - and another benefit of this was learning a new skill on how to paint furniture + fueling my DIY side.

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