So this being the first blog post on my new website, a little back story is pretty much required 🙂
When I quit my day job to go full time with my interior design freelancing work, my boyfriend who is a farrier, had a strong interest in shifting our home base from Tampa to Ocala, Florida. Since I can now work from home, I opened my mind to the possibility so Renan could be closer to his clients and their horses.
What I didn’t know was that we would be soon adopting two beautiful 9-year-old Friesian horses ourselves – and would soon need a considerable amount of property to accommodate them. No doubt, Renan found it in under one day and shook hands on the rental agreement, sight COMPLETELY unseen to me.
While Renan negotiated a deal to rent a two-acre property with a barn, chicken coop, and stall for the horses, the inside of the house was something of a nightmare. It was left mid-renovation, lacking a sink, cabinets, or appliances in the kitchen. The second bathroom was merely a huge hole in the floor! There was shoddy paint work in the bedrooms, and the whole property was lined with dirt and sand any which way you walk.
Renan had a strong sense of optimism and had begun repairs to the property immediately. It was not long after the first visit that I decided to accept the challenge myself. What a whirlwind the entire month of December was for us!
So I’m starting this blog to chronicle some of the projects and challenges we are tackling here. We’re working under a true beer budget with my champagne taste!
But hey, I can’t be alone in that. My challenge is to turn this place from dirt pit into a home for us and our (now over 20) animals. I envision a home where we can welcome friends and family without the disclaimer of “under construction” or “please don’t judge my interior design taste on THIS.” You know this has happened!
So knowing I’m not alone in my search for quality home essentials on a budget, I’ve put together a list of where to shop first for each. I hope you can use my experience going in and out of dozens of stores (before pandemic) and anecdotes of product regrets to help your shopping experience go without a hitch.
1. For a Mattress, Shop Amazon
Let’s start with a positive: oh my goodness, I love our Signature Sleep mattresses. I first ordered when I moved into my apartment in Tampa and always enjoyed it – especially with a 1.5″ memory foam topper to make it extra princess. In moving to the new place, we needed another for the guest room and I actually bought the same one again. We had guests come into town for Christmas and they raved about their sleep. It’s a great, balanced mattress, leaning on the soft side. It comes rolled up in a box and delivered right to the door.
Hot tip: Do not let the Amazon prime two-day promise fool you! Mattresses have to be shipped ground and typically can’t arrive sooner than the 4-5 day window. Learned that lesson here at Christmastime (ugh!), but the mattress is great.
2. For Stylish Lamps, Shop Target
Lamps are probably what inspired this article! I feel like we all went to sleep one night and woke up to almost every new, cool-looking lamp costing $50 at the minimum. And if you need a big one, that’s $70+. Even at HomeGoods! And while those prices might not be jarring on a normal day, when you move, it can add up fast.
So unless you’re into retro, thrift store finds and have time to shop, my advice to you is to go shop your local Super Target on a Wednesday or Thursday night. I find that’s when they put the NEW sale stuff out, but it could always change. I feel like my longest Target “disappearances” have been around 8 p.m. on a week night. But it’s not a bad thing when I come out with a stash of upcoming birthday gifts, half-off candles, and beautiful decor items. I think I found the Opalhouse lamp in my bedroom, complete with the shade, lightbulb, and all on sale for $25. You cannot beat that for a new lamp!
Hot tip: buy a full lamp, even if it’s not on sale, it usually saves money over the mix and match varieties.
Quarantine alternative: I would use Target.com over Amazon. They have better prices and styles in my opinion.
3. For Area Rugs, Shop HomeGoods
Rugs are tough, but if you’re on a budget, your best bet is to measure and check out the selection at your local HomeGoods. I got my apartment’s living room shag rug there and I love it to this day! You’ll find rugs there come in non-traditional sizes, so that’s why I recommend measuring your room and furniture before you go so you can make a decision. Don’t try to eyeball-it with a rug!
Most HomeGoods have a 60 day return window that you can take it back if you’re not happy with it, so as long as it fits in your car, it’s easy to return for a full refund. Double check with your store, though!
However, if decision-making in a store is not your jam OR if you are currently quarantining, Rugs USA & Wayfair are good resources. I love how these websites show customer ratings and have tools to estimate how the rug will fit/look in your space. Make sure you are buying during one of their promotions or sales. This is not my top choice for the purposes of this article because: 1) Sometimes the rug can look slightly different in photos, so be sure to look close-up and read about the materials. 2) You will often have to deduct $25-$65 of your refund to pay to ship back a return.
Hot tip: even if it’s a great deal, don’t buy a rug from a non-reputable source. We bought a woven style rug, new with tags at a thrift store for a great deal and it ended up tearing and bleeding color in under a month.
4. For Sheets, Shop Amazon
Sheets are another product that I see creeping up in price everywhere. While you can’t deny high-end material sheets can last a long time, when moving, it adds up. I discovered these sheets on a blog list when I just needed an extra set for my apartment. They are soft and lightweight just as described. They’ve held up so well, that when I needed another set of sheets this year, I ordered the same in the print above. Hello great sheets for under $20!
Hot tip: when you shop anything on Amazon, double check that the reviews are legit before ordering. I’ve noticed a few products with hundreds of reviews, but when you read, you’ll see some are about a different product. Scam alert!
5. For Curtains, Shop Target.com
If you follow me on Instagram and you’ve gotten this far into the article, it’s probably abundantly clear that I am a HUGE fan of the Opalhouse line at Target. These curtains, oh my gosh. I love curtains for the function of blocking light, framing a beautiful room, and introducing a punch of pattern/color.
The love of my Target curtains starts way before this Opalhouse line was introduced. This is because they constantly have a great pattern selection and you can touch them in store and order in the length you need online. For a Target price!
My mom found a few panels of my white/blue paisley curtains in the sale section of Target for my apartment for a steal of a deal. All I had to do was order 1-2 matching panels online and my apartment was transformed in the first week. I still use them now!
Hot tip: be sure to measure the length you need for every window. My recommendation is to hang as close to the ceiling as possible and have the curtains hang within a half inch of the floor. It’ll make your ceilings look incredibly high! If you already have curtains and need to adjust, you can try doing the iron-on hem tape! I may be trying this out soon myself.
6. For Unique Decor Items, Shop GoodWill or Local Thrift Store
I shock myself nearly every time I browse a thrift store home section. In addition to the pineapple mirrors, I found a Crate & Barrel tiered server, a cute jewelry dish, and some vintage china I’m obsessed with. Treat it like a HomeGoods. They may not have exactly what you’re looking for, but you can almost always find something good. Plus it’s SUPER budget friendly!
Added benefit, your money is usually going towards a charity and you’re keeping products out of a landfill. While I can’t recommend thrift stores for everything on my list here, it’s an awesome resource for unique decor items!
Quarantine alternative: Poshmark Home – this is also a great resource to check if a product you love from a big brand has gone out of stock.
7. For Mirrors, Shop HomeGoods
This is a close one to call, but I think HomeGoods is still the best bet for a one-stop-shop for accent mirrors. I think the prices have gone up, but it’s likely lower cost because there’s no shipping involved. When I needed another wall mirror for my new bathroom, HomeGoods was my spot!
8. For Kitchen Utensils, Organization & Hardware Items, Shop the Dollar Tree
Nothing really grinds my gears more than when I see something at the Dollar Tree AFTER I spend 3x-5x on the same thing elsewhere. In this move, this happened with a set of super long zip ties, #neverforget!
It seems silly, but when you’re on a budget, it’s a good idea to make a big Dollar Tree run when you first move in. I really like their kitchen accessories, especially the knife above and their wooden spoons. I also like their organizational products and have used for the notorious pantry & linen closet organization projects.
They also carry a lot of random decor, garden, and craft items seasonally that are worth checking out.
Quarantine alternative: Amazon add-on items
9. For Kitchen & Entertaining Essentials, Shop Ikea
My love runs very deep for Ikea. Because their products are widely tested before releasing internationally, you can find great basics there for many categories. But I can’t possibly sing their praises enough when it comes to their cookware, serving utensils, glassware, and ceramics. They just get it. And the value is always there.
Hot tip: If you find a colored/printed plate set, glassware set, etc. that you absolutely love, stock up! These type of products seem to be limited-time. We broke a few plates in the move that I’m still thinking about!
10. For Random Batteries, Shop Dollar General
Most random addition, but you will thank me if this happens to you! We needed a random size battery for one of our remotes. Walmart was out of stock and I didn’t have the patience to wait for Amazon so I phoned a friend. Apparently the Dollar General is notorious for having batteries.
Hot tip: Take a photo of the old battery like I did before you go to the store. There were several options nearly identical in size with different numbers. Thankful I did this!
Quarantine alternative: Amazon
Thank you so much for checking out my first blog post! I hope this is helpful! Leave me a comment below if there’s any home essentials I didn’t include that you’d like my shop recommendation on.
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Also, if you want help in 1-3 areas of your new home that you’re stuck on or want design guidance on, I’m currently offering Virtual Design Strategy Sessions through the month of September. This consists of a style assessment, a concentrated strategy discussion on three areas of concern, a prioritization roadmap, and linking you to relevant resources with a summary PDF at the end. All totally remotely by the way. And in as little as three business days. If this sounds like a fit for you, click here to learn more.
About Kaitlyn Loos
Kaitlyn Loos [loh-s] is one of the newest designers for interiors and events in the west-central Florida area. (Tampa, Ocala, Gainesville, and everywhere in between.) She brings over seven years of graphic design, project management, and event planning experience to create amazing spaces and experiences for her clients. She is one of the only interior design companies in her area who offers modern, fresh, pattern and color-savvy designs. From styling an event to designing an entire home, Kaitlyn Loos Design is a full service company that delivers style for nearly any investment level. She also enjoys sharing her ideas and projects through her new blog which reaches over 325 people monthly.
Disclaimer: a small percentage of purchases from select links will benefit me via an affiliate program. I appreciate anyone who wants to support my new blog by shopping the products, but there is no obligation to buy.