Some friends recently found an unfurnished flat. I am surprised this isn’t more common, but most rented flats are still furnished, no matter how trashed and tawdry the alleged furniture is in reality.
They placed requests on social media for donations of spare or unwanted furniture, as they even had to find white goods, which is unusual even in unfurnished places. There’s Freecycle of course, but people in the UK seem to use it instead of abandoning collapsed, stinking mattresses in a layby.
Ebay works of course, but for larger goods, The Salvation Army and Emmaus sell reconditioned fridges and repaired beds, (although I’ve heard of problems when buying white goods from the former) and you get the glow of not adding to the world’s fridge mountain.
Second-hand shops are so overpriced that even pre-owned (that’s the buzz word now) Argos stacking chairs are priced as antiques of the future. Then of course, there’s the trusty IKEA catalogue. Ever wondered how much it would cost to fit a small one bed from scratch with their cheapest products? By my calculation it’s about £3000.
You might need a telly, and all kitchen stuff like saucepans. And don’t get me started on carpets – god, add that on to the IKEA list and it rockets off into space.
For people in low-pay/no-pay lifestyles, it is technically possible to equip a house for nothing. Friends might help with moving stuff, but there’s national glut of man and van companies, so you can hire one of those by the hour (just help with heavy lifting, they operate alone, usually.) There is a whole world of ways to upcycle newly acquired old things. Planks of wood and brushed bricks can make shelves, and decorating tables can stand in for their permanent cousins.
Then there are skips – you can usually find something in a house clearance. In Germany there is a sub-culture of leaving unwanted furniture and household items in the street for others to rescue – fine unless it rains. In fact, in some circles buying new things is frowned upon, and trains usually have one person lugging a chest of drawers back from flea-market.
Auctions are good as well – they sometimes sell cleared house contents when an elderly resident has died (that’s fine as long as you don’t believe in those haunted bread-bin urban myths, and I know you’re all too wise, aren’t you?)
But seriously, if there’s one thing I will always buy new, it’s a mattress. I’m not fussy about a bed-frame (although it’s nice) but the frame you can hoover diligently and then scrub (and apparently should regularly in case of bed-bugs) but a mattress….
I shall tell this story again.
I visited a house with view to moving, and wasn’t impressed, but when I saw the bed I was horrified. It looked like that Anish Kapoor had been practicing his paint gun but with germs. I said what anyone in their right mind would say: “Uuurrrgh! Yuk! It’s horrible!” The landlord sagely nodded his head: ‘Art students,’ he explained.
Mattress covers. People: we need mattress covers.