Budget Saving Hacks: 3 Ways I Save BIG on Designer Furniture

I have very expensive taste, especially when it comes to interior decor and furniture. Then again, my budget rarely ever covers the designer furniture of my dreams. However, I’ve learned a few tips along the way to help me stretch my budget to fit those statement pieces in my home and I’m sharing three here.

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3 Budget Hacks for Saving Big on Furniture

Don’t get me wrong…I have a solid appreciation for cost efficient, super affordable furniture. And my home has quite a few of these pieces that I absolutely love. However, when I’m making a mood board, and letting my mind wonder and dreams go wild (and searching Pinterest) I find myself crushing on designer pieces on the regular.

Then again, I have two little boys to put through school and my own student loans to pay, so it is not exactly “in the budget” to invest in such pieces.

Recently, I have been crushing majorly on arched cabinets like THIS ONE from Kathy Kuo Home, THIS ONE from Crate and Barrel, and THIS ONE from Anthropology. However, I am not going to spend several thousand dollars right now on a cabinet, especially since I already have one in my living room. SO, I got to work looking for an option that I could live with.

I’m happy to say that no only did I find the PERFECT piece, but I ONLY PAID 20% of retail. So, how did I do it? I tried all 3 of my top tips and the last one paid off. Let me tell you how!

TIP 1: Check Out Second Hand Sources Like Facebook Marketplace

My friends frequently tell me I find the absolute best deals and a huge reason why is that I have gotten into the habit of regularly checking out a few resale or second hand sources to check inventory. Whether I’m looking for something specific or not, y0u just never know what you’re going to find. I may not be actively sourcing furniture for my basement, but I can usually make it the right time for a major deal on something I need down there.

My favorite source right now for second hand furniture is Facebook Marketplace. My friend Megan at House on Birch Lane found one of the best designer arched cabinet dupes on there, painted it, and has an amazing piece for very little time and money. I searched for months for something like that, but every time one popped up, it was sold in minutes and I was never first in line. So, I went to my second tip.

TIP 2: Look for Open Box Deals

Open box deals are items that are purchased and then returned by the customer and then are resold at a deep discount by the retailer. In my experience, the items are usually inspected to make sure they are free of any major defects or there is a disclaimer regarding minor scratches, chips, or dents that there may be.

During the pandemic shut down, we worked on the living room for the Better Homes & Gardens One Room Challenge. I had fallen in love with the Pottery Barn Folsom coffee table. Problem is, the estimated delivery was 9-10 months out and it was $700. I loved it so much that I designed and made my own dupe with Paul that cost less than half of the designer piece and took a few weeks to finish. (DIY tutorial on that coffee table coming soon.)

THEN, a few months later, my friend Callie at Home On Harbor posted a deal for the exact same coffee table from the Pottery Barn website. It was on sale for $400! However, it was an “open box” deal, which I had never heard of before then. I’ve since figured out that these deals exist on may websites, including WayFair and Amazon. Essentially, someone ordered the coffee table and then decided to cancel or return it. Rather than putting it back on the floor for sale, they list it as an open box deal at typically a pretty decent discount. There is nothing wrong with it, that’s just the way many manufacturers handle returns. It’s always worth looking for open box deals when you’re considering your interior design and decor budget.

Are Open Box Deals & Clearance Items the Same?

Usually not. While products advertised as open box deals are usually found within the sale or clearance section of a website, they typically differ from traditional clearance items. Items that are simply marked as clearance and not “open box” have an expectation of being new in the original retail packaging.

Moreover, products listed in the clearance section are usually items that will no longer be sold on the website once the inventory has been exhausted and are usually non-refundable.

An open box item does not necessarily mean that this item is no longer a part of the main product line, but rather it has simply been returned in accordance with the store’s return policy and is able to be resold. As a result, the store is making it available for purchase again, but at a discount because of its open box status.  Open box items may or may not be refundable.

I looked for quite a while but I could not find an open box deal on an arched cabinet that I wanted. But don’t worry, tip number 3 was the one that ultimately worked for me!

More Retailers with Open Box Deals Online

Tip 3: Check Out Outlet Stores

This is what worked for me! We are lucky enough to have several designer furniture and decor outlets locally, including Ballard Designs, Front Gate, and Grandin Road outlets about 25 minutes from my house. I follow them on social media and had been checking out their inventory regularly while looking for the arched cabinet.

I saw that the Ballard outlet had had several of the Aris cabinets in stock, but even at 50 percent off (it retails for $3,499), it was still way out of my budget. When Memorial Day was approaching, I saw that they were running 60 percent off or more on select dining furniture so I decided to message them to see if that applied to the Aris cabinets. While messaging with the account, I made the joke that I was trying to find a way to get an arched cabinet on a non-existent budget and the manager responded by saying they had just received 4 Aris cabinets that had varying degrees of damage. As a result, they were between 55 to 85 percent off of the retail price. Now THAT was music to my ears. I didn’t know what kind of damage she was talking about, but I ran up there to check them out.

I ended up finding one for 80 percent off that was missing 2 of the 3 shelves, had scratches on the metal finished on the doors and feet, and had some scratches on one side that I knew would not be super visible where I wanted to put the cabinet. I called Paul, sent him some pictures, and bought it!

I’ve been working on fixing the cabinet and it is going to come out so perfectly, that I do not think anyone will be able to tell that it was ever damaged (without seeing my before pictures, of course). That post is coming soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to give you guys these three tips in case you are like me and realllly like to stretch your decorating dollars.

Budget Saving Hacks: How I Save BIG on Designer Furniture
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Check out my Google Web Story about these BUDGET HACKS

There you go! I have used these three tips over and over again to get really nice, traditionally expensive designer furniture in my home without paying the designer price tag. If you have any other hacks or have used any of these, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! We’re all here to help each other. Also, please be sure to follow me on social media (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest) to see how my Aris Cabinet turns out!

XOXO Alicia

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