So you have a new home to fill: Where should you shop?

Moving into a new home can be daunting, especially if you’re also on the market for new furniture for that new home. The good news is that there are plenty of options for saving money, and those options just keep getting better.

guest bedroom/home office
We found this futon at Walmart. Its black faux leather is just the right look for extra seating in a home office. Plus, it lets the room double as a guest bedroom.
  • Ask around. Most people have stuff they don’t use. From surplus silverware and china to old dining sets, if you ask enough friends and relatives, you can cobble together almost an entire household. If you have a trustworthy source, you could go so far as to get a mattress for super cheap. (Maybe even for free!) Though you shouldn’t accept upholstery without first giving it a thorough inspection. After all, your Aunt Marge might have an old sofa that she’ll give you if you’ll just come pick it up, but you might show up for it and realize it smells worse than her ash tray.
  • Go thrifting first. Spend a weekend visiting garage and estate sales, check your local Goodwill, visit flea markets. Any place that sells used items is going to have at least some of what you need for cheaper than if you were to buy it new. But thrift smart. Haggle for a lower price when possible, and don’t buy anything that’s so worn out that it’ll cost more to fix it than to buy the same thing new.

    home office/guest bedroom
    This desk is from IKEA, and the chair–believe it or not–is from Costco!
  • Buy new upholstery. Yes, coffee tables and shelving units are easy to find on the cheap and easy to fix up if they’re a little worn, but couches are a different story. Just like you should always buy mattresses and box-springs new, it’s safer to buy upholstery new. If you’re buying a ratty old thing with plans of re-upholstering, forget it. Unless you know how to do it yourself or know someone who’ll do it for cheap or even free, re-upholstering won’t save you money. Besides, old upholstery is dusty, musty, hard to clean, and possibly full of bedbugs. Safer to buy new for sure.
  • Comparison shop. Where you find the cheapest version of what you’re looking for will depend on what it is you need. Walmart’s furniture selection has gotten trendier over the years, but they still don’t have much beyond futons. Places like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond regularly have sales, but you might have to wade past stuff aimed at college kids to find the classier items. Check TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods for smaller pieces like accent chairs and storage benches as well as decor to tie a room together. Amazon, Overstock.com, and Wayfair have competitive prices, but stick to free shipping to really keep that price low. IKEA is still an excellent place to get everything you need, especially if you browse their as-is section as well as the store itself.

Top 5 things to do when moving

Because we have a lot of people moving into apartments in the next couple months, we decided now is the perfect time to offer our list of top 5 things to do when you move.

  1. Measure everything including your furniture, the spaces you have to fit it through to move it out of your old place, and everything in your new place. Measure the width and height of every door and hallway you’ll be maneuvering through. Measure the dimensions of each room. Make sure your furniture will clear all light fixtures, not just the ceiling. Measure all of your new windows for window treatments. Never assume that all the doors in your new place have the same dimensions—interior doors are often narrower than entryway doors.
  2. Pack the essentials conveniently so you have immediate access when you get to the new place. What’s essential? Here’s a brief list:
    – Toilet paper
    – Towels
    – Shower Curtain
    – Bathroom floor mat
    – Pillows and bedding
    – Drinking water or a filter for tap water
    – ID and other important paperwork
    – Checkbook and other things you’ll need for lease signing
  3. Manage your utilities and make sure all accounts are in your name that should be. Know when to expect your first bill and contact the company if it doesn’t arrive when expected as this could be a sign that something went wrong or didn’t get done.
  4. Know the rules about parking at your new place. If you need a parking permit, get that right away. If you have a big moving truck, make sure you’re parking it legally. Heed all signs in the neighborhood and on the property, and check with your landlord on where it’s safe to park for unloading large items as well as what to do until you get your permit.
  5. Bring plenty of water for your and your moving crew. Even if it’s a mild day, you’ll get hot and sweaty while you move, so make sure you have drinking water handy to keep you hydrated, energized, and happy. While you’re at it, pack some healthy snacks.

Have some moving tips of your own? Comment with your own top 5 below!

Moving, or looking for a new place to move to? Contact Prudential Realty Company for our current availability on apartments and townhouses throughout the Pittsburgh area.

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Moving? Here are 10 tips for a smooth transition

Moving is a hassle, yes, but if you’re organized and plan ahead, you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches. Here are 10 tips for a successful, less stressful move.

  1. Measure twice, move once. Not only should you know the dimensions of the rooms in your new place, you should know the size of the doorways and hallways that you’ll have to maneuver furniture through. Plus, you’ll need to know the dimensions of your furniture.

    moving tips
    A couch like this one might not come apart, but IKEA furniture (like the tables and chair pictured here) is designed for simple assembly–and dis-assembly.
  2. Make check lists and use them. Go through your old place room by room and list all the items you need to pack up and move. Check off items as you move them onto the moving van, and check them off again as you unload them at your new place. This way, nothing will get lost or left behind.
  3. Label your boxes. This might strike you as a no-brainer, but it’s such a quick, simple step that it might easily slip your mind. Unpacking in your new place really will be much easier if you know what each box contains without having to look inside.
  4. If it comes apart, take it apart. It might seem easier to move with intact furniture, but it’s actually much simpler to break down everything into manageable pieces. Pull the drawers out of dressers (you could leave items in removed drawers in lieu of boxes) to lighten the load. Take apart your sectional and reassemble it in its new home. Unscrew the legs from you dining room table for flatter transport and an easier time fitting it, piece by piece, into the allotted space.
  5. Wrap it up. This might sound goofy, but cellophane is your friend when it comes time for moving. If you already have all your silverware inside a drawer organizer, all you have to do is wrap that in cellophane and it’s ready to move. Remember those drawers you pulled out of your dresser? Wrap them in cellophane to secure the items inside, no boxes needed! Buy the cheap stuff and wrap up your whole mattress and box-spring to protect them during the move and make it easy to slide them across carpeted floors.
  6. Clean your trash cans and use them for storage. You can even nest a small bathroom can inside your bigger kitchen can and then store stuff inside. Suddenly, you have a box or two fewer to lug from place to place.
  7. Use your Tetris skills and leave no space unused inside boxes or inside the moving van.
  8. Know where you can park. If you have a large moving truck, make sure you know the neighborhood’s rules and the borough’s ordinances about where you’re allowed to park it and for how long. The last thing you want is your truck full of all your possessions getting towed. Your present and future landlords are likely in the know about this stuff, so ask them where you can pull up as you vacate and later as you move in.
  9. Take pictures. After you’ve vacated your old place, take pictures of everything as evidence that you cleaned up and took everything with you. It’s a good way to go through one last time and make sure you didn’t forget anything. Before you start moving into your new place, take pictures of everything exactly how you find it. The pictures of your old and new places will be important when it comes time to get your security deposit back. Once you’re done moving in, take pictures of everything in its place to keep on record in case you need it for insurance purposes. If you decide to feng shui later, take more pictures. While you’re at it, take some pictures for your scrapbook to preserve the memories.
  10. Remember how you handled the move. There’s a fair chance that you’ll be moving again in the future, so after the move is complete, sit down and think about what went well and what could have gone better. It’s probably a good idea to write this reflection down for future reference. At the very least, you should recall the size moving van you rented, how you got everything into the apartment, and how you got it all to fit in said moving van. You’ve already solved the puzzle once, so save your future self the headache of having to do it all over again.

Do you have your own moving tips? Share them in the comments below.

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How to decorate a 2 bedroom

How to decorate a 2 bedroom apartment on a budget: master bedroom

You might think there isn’t a whole lot you can do by way of decorating a master bedroom, but there’s more to it than throwing a mattress on the floor.

The 2 bedrooms at Alvern Gardens Apartments, with their 728 square feet of space, leave plenty of room for a queen size bed, 2 night stands, and a sizable dresser or two. Our old furnishings for this room were classic cherry, with a rather ornate headboard and 2 dressers, one long and low with a mirror hung above it and another tall and slender. Out of all the rooms in the apartment, this one’s decor held up the best over time (the tray of beauty products in front of the mirror was the most dated part).

For our remodel, we decided against cramming in too much furniture and went with just one dresser. The dark wood of the set we chose echoes the living and dining rooms, and the silver details add visual interest. The lines are much cleaner, making this set more modern than the old one. But like the old one, it will look classy for years to come. Our dresser came with a mirror mounted on it, making it sort of a two-in-one dresser-vanity, a nice way to consolidate space while still filling the room, which brings me to headboard and bed-frame options.

master bedroom decor
The grey bedding and black and white picture are a chic contrast to our antique lamp.

Our simple, straightforward headboard is nevertheless nice and big. You might hesitate to move large furniture into an apartment, if only out of dread for the move-out, but big furniture has its advantages. Roomy apartments like the ones you’ll find at Alvern Gardens demand to be filled, and that can be achieved (unless of course you enjoy a nice echo) with lots of little things or a few large pieces. Alternatively, if you want your big furniture to serve a purpose, you could get a bed with storage cubbies and drawers built in, like one of the storage-savvy options at IKEA (luckily for Alvern Gardens residents, the Robinson store is close by).

We still had lots of wall space left over in the room, so we matched the wall decor to our bedding, tying everything together with a large piece of art. Don’t be afraid to hang things on the walls in your rental—just ask your landlord what materials are OK to use, and read your lease carefully. Command™ products are probably fine, and they can hold up most anything.

Contact Alvern Gardens Apartments at 412-561-4663 or alverngardens@yahoo.com to find out if they have a 2 bedroom available for you to decorate (and move into).