The thrifty decorator

Ten places to find home décor on a budget

Photo By Tom Angel

Yes, you can decorate your home without going broke. Even folks who can afford all the extras know the secret of smart home décor: Spend money where you want to, but not where you don’t have to. Whether you’ve busted your budget on a great couch or bed and want to save dollars elsewhere or just have a mind toward the thrifty, here’s a list of places that can help you save big bucks with big results.

Photo By Tom Angel

1. Antique shops. With the exception of Antiques Roadshow finds, it’s generally the case that older furniture is cheaper than new. It’s also often of a higher quality, and definitely adds character to a home. Sure, you could buy a brand-new bed, but you could also get an entire vintage bedroom set for less than $1,200 by shopping one of Butte County’s many antique stores.

2. Thrift shops. A cousin to the antique store is the thrift shop, and around here there are several—such as The Difference at 841 Cherry St.—that are downright classy. Also check out Orange Street Consignment, Salvation Army’s Elite Repeat on Broadway and the ARC’s antique annex on Park Avenue. Most other shops have a wide selection of curtains, rugs, paintings and knick-knacks.

Photo By Tom Angel

3. eBay. The most-popular online auction site, at, is a virtual clearinghouse for weekend warriors’ project leftovers, discounted new products, hard-to-find discontinued favorites and just about anything else you might need to add style on a shoestring. There are rolls of wallpaper border for $4 on up, crown molding for 95 cents a foot and Pottery Barn and Ikea couch slipcovers starting at $20.

4. The dollar store. You won’t want to go this cheap for all your home decorating needs, but this author managed to decorate a laundry room using three $1 rolls of flowered wallpaper border and $1 switch-plates (decoupaged with paper). They also have low-end hardware, painting supplies and tools. The paint for the aforementioned room was $7 (see next item).

Photo By Tom Angel

5. Paint department rejects. Chain retailers such as Lowe’s, The Home Depot and OSH have tightened up their paint-return policy, but their employees still make the occasional mixing mistake and that means savings for shoppers who aren’t picky about their colors. Expect to pay $1 to $3 for a quart and around $5 for a gallon.

6. Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The money-saving opportunities at this charity shop boggle the mind. Builder leftovers and other donations make for cheap paint, lighting fixtures, drawer pulls and much, much more. See Haven’s feature article on page 10.

7. The bargain basement. Don’t pass up local boutique-style home stores because you think they’re out of your price range. Virtually every upscale retailer has periodic sales, but the fun place to poke around is the bargain areas where the stores mark down older or out-of-season merchandise to make room for the new. Also, deals can sometimes be had on floor models.

8. Yard sales. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. People moving, downsizing or switching styles often unload their goods on the cheap at yard sales. Get out early and be sure to check out sales in a variety of neighborhoods. The flea market, held most weekends at the Silver Dollar Fair Grounds, is also worth a peek.

9. Friends and family. Cozy up to your pals whose tastes change with the seasons. You may be the beneficiary of their past decorating experiments. Do you covet a rocking chair you saw tucked away in your uncle’s garage? Just ask. You may be doing him a favor.

10. Auctions. For sheer entertainment value, you can’t beat Chico Auction Gallery. Entire houses are cleared out and contents—ranging from French provincial dressers to antique porcelain to framed Norman Rockwell posters—are put up for grabs to the highest bidder, who often doesn’t bid very high. (Preview at And the Friday-night events at 926 West Eighth Ave. aren’t the only game in town. Watch for other auctions, or head up to the one in Los Molinos (, for more offerings.