IKEA budget, boutique hotel taste
April 8, 2010 2:41 AM   Subscribe

Decorating a small flat in London on a budget without resorting to IKEA? I'm tired of having my place looking studenty and would like to pick up some nice, unique furnishings and accessories. I don't have a lot of space or money to work with, however. I know about Gumtree, but can you recommend some stores I can visit to get ideas as well as buy cool stuff? I live in W2 (which isn't exactly budget-friendly, I know.)
posted by jetsetlag to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As someone else who has faced the same anti-Ikea dilemna, I would say Gumtree, Freecycle and eBay are your best bet. Actual shops with affordable stuff don't seem to exist, although it is worth checking out your local junk shop.

Some of Habitat's stuff is reasonably priced though and you might be able to pick up a bargain at a small auction house like Criterion. But going online makes the trawl a lot easier.
posted by ninebelow at 3:09 AM on April 8, 2010

Debenhams has quite nice homewares which aren't too overpriced, and if you choose carefully, Argos has some bargains.
posted by ellieBOA at 3:18 AM on April 8, 2010

Take a bus to Hammersmith or Kingston and take a look at TK Maxx - not good for actual furniture but great for accessories.
posted by mippy at 4:28 AM on April 8, 2010

US resident, so I don't have any actual knowledge of your area. Think second hand. That's where you will find nice, unique things on a budget.
posted by sarajane at 4:31 AM on April 8, 2010

I didn't like the programme at all but last night's opening episode of Cracking Antiques might give you some pointers to picking up second hand previously loved furniture to restore and to getting the look that you want.
posted by ceri richard at 4:31 AM on April 8, 2010

Perhaps Muji?
posted by KatlaDragon at 4:44 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not in London, but our local recycling centre has a retail side that resells the furniture people have thrown away. Some of it needs a lot of love and attention, but we gotten some beautiful and very unique wardrobes, tables, and chest of drawers for less than £50 each (some of them very nice). Your borough council's local Household Reuse and Recycle Centre should be able to tell you whether they do it as well.
posted by brambory at 5:46 AM on April 8, 2010

Ooh forgot to mention Matalan as well, lovely cheap homewares.
posted by ellieBOA at 5:54 AM on April 8, 2010

Consider charity shops; British Heart Foundation have quite a few specialised furniture shops, as do some other charities. The catch is that 95% of it is not going to be stuff you want, and that the only way of finding the other 5% is by going round to see for yourself, and going back again next week to see what's changed, rinse and repeat. This pretty much applies to TK Maxx too, for similar reasons of unpredictable stock supply.
posted by Lebannen at 7:32 AM on April 8, 2010

Best answer: Run eBay searches for furniture within 10 miles of your postcode and look for items marked "local collection only". Often you can get great stuff for cheap from people who just want to get rid of bulky items ASAP. We have been steadily furnishing our flat this way -- so far we've bought a straight-out-of-the-box £300 futon for £150, a teak G-plan desk for £150 and a lightly used £1600 Harrods couch for £200. (This includes delivery costs.)

This scheme relies on your having transport for the items. If you drive, Streetvan's van-hire-by-the-hour scheme is highly economical. Failing that, there are lots of good, cheap man-and-van services around. If you're skillful, neither of these should add more than £40 to the price of the item.

If you're looking for inspiration, Apartment Therapy has some nice ideas, and Martha Stewart is of course legendary for decorating and organizing.
posted by stuck on an island at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2010

I've been dragged into Primark (unwillingly) before and the larger shops have quite a lot of non-clothes stuff. Of course you also have to contend with 5 million women fighting over shoes ...

Also try Next and your nearest very large Tesco.
posted by mr_silver at 10:40 AM on April 8, 2010

British Home Store (BHS) also has reasonable prices.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:54 PM on April 8, 2010

Response by poster: Very belated follow-up:

5 months later, our flat is finally fully furnished! Not having a car or being able to stay home for deliveries really limited me, since I had to scour Gumtree for items that the sellers were willing to deliver in evenings/weekends. Or that were close enough to take home in a taxi.

For big ticket items such as bed and couch I stayed home or got someone to, also mooched a couple of rides... this would be a lot faster for someone with a flexible job or a car.

On the bright side, everyone loves the flat, and having a house-warming party BEFORE it was full of furniture was probably wise anyway.
posted by jetsetlag at 3:33 AM on September 1, 2010

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