The Shop of Mom and Dad

by Erika Torres

Part II of Decorating on a Budget WEEK! You can read Part I here.

If I had one piece of advice for upcoming brides, it would be “Be friends with your mother-in-law.” Especially if she has nice stuff. Just kidding! (maybe…)

I would say about 50% of the decor we have in our home comes from my mother-in-law (who feels extremely sorry for her broke daughter-in-law), 30% comes from my parents, 15% I actually bought, and 15% from wedding gifts.  I’m telling you–be friends with your mother-in-law. ( I will now refer to her as MIL)

Remember that joint garage sale my in-laws had and were gracious enough to let me mooch some selling space off their land? Well, I hoarded all the items I wanted that MIL was selling! Going through my mother-in-law’s garage was like shopping at TJ Maxx for free…  un-freakin-believable! It was like waking up on Christmas morning, winning the lottery and realizing you were going to Disneyland all in the SAME DAY! EEEEEEEE!!!

First piece of evidence–

The Living Room

Items from Mother In Law

(starting from the left)

  • Lamp
  • Coasters
  • decorative candle holder on coffee table
  • ceramic pumpkins
  • Candle decorative thingamajig
  • Crate and Barrel wine rack (housewarming gift she gave us)
  • steel candle holders

Here are the close-ups from the TV stand

  • The candles and large glass hurricane (from Crate and Barrel) were wedding gifts.
  • I don’t know if everyone has Michael’s but it’s a craft store. I bought those pine cones for $2.50 (waited till they were 50% off!) and I bought the matching miniature hurricane thing for $2.50 as well! Then I filled it up with wine corks…we drink a lot of wine, hehe.
  • MIL gave us everything on the right, including the red table runner (excluding the frame, which is from my single days…)

Let’s see stuff that I actually got myself…

(starting from the left)

  • The frame and throw were both wedding gifts.
  • The black dresser we scored for FREE from our old apartment complex (people just throw stuff like this away! and yes, we’re not above taking other people’s garbage)
  • The TV is borrowed from my uncle until we can afford our own (hopefully next month!)
  • The coffee table we got for $15 off Craigslist, and we painted it red (using $30 worth of supplies, which we also used to paint a bookcase). You can read about that transformation here.
  • The red curtains were $10 each panel from Walmart (4 panels total) plus curtain rod from IKEA for $18, I believe.

Now for the rest of the living room…

(again starting from the left)

  • The cool marble top wood thing I took from my parents’ garage
  • The glass vase was from the Mother-in-law
  • The Pier 1 pillows that I absolutely had to have were $35 total (and bought with garage sale money!)
  • The rug I bought at TJ Maxx for $30 (and bought with garage sale money!)
  • Those cool wine boxes that I use for storage underneath the coffee table? Free! Scored them from the old apartment dumpster…yup, Eric got them from the dumpster. I say this with pride, people!

The cream couch we got from a second-hand store that sells furniture used in model homes and cost $130 from our own pocket, and we used $220 from a wedding gift from my company! The brown leather chair was Eric’s so that could also be attributed to my MIL since she bought if for him.

Total Cost for the living room from our pockets?? $298!!!

I do realize I am incredibly fortunate to have parents and in-laws who own nice stuff and are willing to give it away (or have it be taken away, as I often just ask my mom “you don’t use this anymore, do you?” as I proceed to stuff it into my car) but I highly recommend people try garage sales, especially if you live in a nice area. All the stuff you see would have been sold in a garage sale if I hadn’t snatched it up from my MIL first. And of course, Goodwill (although I think the Goodwill where I live is extremely overpriced!), thrift stores, flea markets and TJ Maxx are also awesome resources!

What bargain find are YOU most proud of?


Rebecca (Craving Simplicity) November 10, 2010 - 8:30 am

Oh my gosh, I have NO clue what I would have done if my parents hadn’t been so generous when we got married! We have SO many hand-me-downs from them!!! 🙂

Ali November 8, 2010 - 6:08 pm

I love my MIL too but she has yet to furnish my house BUT she does buy my little guy lots of new outfits and books!

I love this post and always like to see where people live. 🙂

My latest bargain find was yesterday at World Market. I got a $265 ottoman on sale for $240, then I had a 25% off coupon and another $10 off coupon. So I saved over $100 in the end. 🙂

Jenn November 8, 2010 - 5:50 pm

I love your stuff! I love to shop at my MIL’s house! She has the best stuff!

Keenie Beanie November 8, 2010 - 2:41 pm

I have had too many scores at Good-(this is where the magic happens)-will to count. But one of my favorite bargains is the totally free, perfectly sized TV stand that we found in the recycling room of our apartment building. It’s like it was designed just for our space.

brandt @ New House on the Blog November 8, 2010 - 8:40 am

When we were in college, it was all about Goodwill, cheap stuff from Wal-Mart, and the student bulliten board service.

Now? Salvation Army, Craigslist, and my parents (who are getting ready to move/downsize, so we are the beneficiaries).


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