Good stuff cheap

Get the dish on low-budget home decorating

You’re living on your own, perhaps for the very first time. That means you get to determine the color, size, shape, smell and texture of the items in your abode. Chances are, it also means you have to pay for it. If our hunch is right, you’ll need to know where you can buy some decent home furnishings and domestics without dipping too deep into your beer, err, spending money. Fortunately, plenty of us Sacramentans are cheapskates too, which means there’ll be no shortage of bargain-hunting opportunities for you. Get started with the local favorites listed below.

In February, a Massachusetts man camped out at the new Sacramento-area Ikea for nearly a month just to win a $3,000 gift card. Foolish? Maybe, but given the rock-bottom prices at this Scandinavian home-goods store, he probably furnished his entire house, bought a year’s supply of Swedish meatballs and still had money to spare. Even if you’re a college student who has better things to do than toast marshmallows in a parking lot for three weeks, at Ikea you’ll find plenty of ways to liven up your standard-issue dorm room for a pittance. Flower vases for $1.50, plant pots for $3, throw pillows for $6, wall art for $15, candle holders and throw rugs for $2, desk lamps for $5. We could go on, but you get the point. Besides, Ikea is opening a store in Utah and we’ve got a tent to pitch. 700 Ikea Court (Reed Avenue exit off of I-80), West Sacramento, (916) 371-4532.

When inside a Target, you have to wonder how other giant discount stores even stay in business. The stuff at Target is cheap, but there is an element of customer service and organization. If the sign says bedding, you’ll probably find sheets and pillows, not a pile of virtual pets on clearance. And Target has exclusive product lines by distinguished people like urban architect Michael Graves, instead of one-time child actresses and disgraced domestic divas. Lucky for you, two Target stores are within easy driving distance of Sac State. You can stock up on just about anything you need for your dorm room or apartment—like a set of four plastic plates for $1.99, a coffee maker for $15, a bean-bag chair for $20 or a canvas memo board to display photos for $10. Look for goods marked with a bright orange “clearance” tag to pay even less. 2505 Riverside Boulevard, (916) 444-0993; 1919 Fulton Avenue, (916) 483-6093.

This ‘n’ That Thrift and Gift
Maybe you don’t want to pay full price for anything. Or maybe you’re tired of seeing our landfills packed with unwanted merchandise. Either way, you might find what you’re looking for at this thrift store affiliated with the Family Relief Fund, which supports families with children who require medical care outside of their hometown or home state. Like most thrift stores it’s hit-or-miss, but in one day we found “gently used” pots and pans for $3 each, dinner plates for $1, bath towels for $2.50, a full-size sheet set for $5, a kitchen table with four chairs for $100 and something no college student wants to be without—a Teddy bear toothbrush holder for 25 cents. 3257 Folsom Boulevard, (916) 457-1877.

You may not find exactly what you need on this catch-all Internet marketplace, but you might find something you could use, especially if you have an apartment to furnish. How about a decent looking if slightly fuddy-duddyish couch for $50 (“what a buy!”); a papasan chair and ottoman for $75 (makes me feel like I’m in a cabana!); a queen mattress set for $50 (“clean and sanitized”); an air-hockey table for $20 (includes a puck and four hand-held hitter things”); a 27-inch color TV for $40 (“FIRST COME FIRST SERVE!”); or a purple office chair for $10 (“psychedelic man”).

Yard sales
Sometimes one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. At least that what my mother said when she tore me away from Saturday morning cartoons to buy ceramic owls and moth-eaten coats at yard sales all those years ago. Sufficient time has passed to heal those wounds, so much so that I’m comfortable suggesting the yard sale as a source of cheap household goods. The middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods around Sac State in particular make for great trawling. Cross J Street and, via Carlson Drive, investigate River Park. Then head west on J and see what cast-offs you can find in East Sacramento. If you don’t feel like driving aimlessly in search of second-hand stuff, check the postings on Craigslist (for sale > garage sales) before you leave.