10 terrific tips for new LA transplants

Setting up a new home from scratch is a mammoth task. My husband and I like to think of ourselves as savvy shoppers and researched a bunch of ways to afford a place we’re happy with aesthetically, without spending an ungodly amount of money. The main reason we we’re so keen to invest time looking for promo codes and discount sales, isn’t because we use the money we saved to go on exotic holidays or the best restaurants in town. Our reason is anything but glamorous or decadent actually. We look for ways to save money so that we can spend more on a variation of overpriced “feesh” tank equipment! As avid feesh lovers, we would rather have a tank with the top notch filtration system for a Betta albirmarginata than a fully matching crockery set. They say shabby chic is cute anyway, right?

I have an inherent need to “nest.” Until everything is tidy and in its rightful place, I feel anxious and irritable, so as this took time, it wasn’t an easy process. Growing up, the heart of our house was always the kitchen, so for me, the kitchen was the first place that needed to be sorted. Luckily we were gifted a lot of kitchenware when we got married, so we didn’t need to source much. Nesting also includes needing to put my own mark on a place, as primal as that sounds, (but not to the extent of peeing everywhere like a dog). I need to wipe everything once over with a jiffy cloth and my sacred 409 spray. Once the kitchen was sorted, I needed to sort the detached garages that came with our home. They were super dirty and hadn’t been used for years. I even considered knocking them down and building some new ones! Anyway, enough about my crazy cleaning behaviour. Below are a 10 tips I think will help other new transplants setting up a new home:

1. First things first: Make a list. It really helped to write down everything we thought we would need, as soon as we thought of it. We needed obvious things that didn’t occur to us until it was time to use them. Who carries around a pencil these days? We sure needed one when marking the walls to put pictures up! Scissors that haven’t been safely stowed away in a taped up box are very useful for getting into said boxes.

2. Try the company Wayfair: You put the furniture together yourself but it’s better quality than IKEA and they deliver for free if you spend over $49. Sweet! We found it useful to check the site frequently as the prices fluctuate daily, and you can take advantage of this. It’s definitely worth hunting the deals out as Wayfair doesn’t always make them obvious. We found the best way to do this was to build a board (this is one of the site’s features) and then check every day to see if any prices changed for anything on our board. As I write this post I can see a coffee table we paid $131 for has now gone back up to $229. This doesn’t mean the price won’t go back down again. A few times we bought items that became further reduced. If you can, it pays to be patient and watch pieces for a while. It was a pain waiting around for some curtains I liked to go on sale, but at least the sunlight streaming in forced me to get up early for a change. Last but not least, it’s also a good idea to review products once you’ve used them. Wayfair rewards you with store credit or for some items they enter you into a prize draw for reviewing. We didn’t win any of the prizes but we did accrue $100 to use towards the coffee table mentioned above.

3. Check out Organic Modernism on Lincoln Boulevard. It has beautiful Scandinavian furniture but it’s very expensive! We got lucky and went during the Christmas sale and found a stunning marble table with a big scratch across it. Because of the damage, it was reduced by 50%. The scratch doesn’t bother us and, unless you look really hard, it’s not particularly noticeable. If you’re in the area, it’s worth popping in to check the stock, as every time we’ve gone past the store, there still seems to be a “sale” sign in the window.

4. Living Spaces in Panorama City is another good one to visit: towards the back of the store there is a whole room dedicated to discounted product. There’s usually something wrong with the items but if you don’t mind rummaging, you can uncover some gems. We found a dresser that was originally priced at $800 and was reduced to $350. It was reduced because some of the drawer knobs were missing and hadn’t been attached. We eBayed some different knobs, varnished the dresser so it would match our bed, and now it looks great! In case you can’t tell, I am very proud of this find.

5. Make the most of estate sales: Again L.A. Estate Sales organise the best ones and they provide photos online prior to the sale, which help you to decide whether to attend. Sales that go on for a few days usually end up further discounted and this can be as much as 50% off the original price. You can pick up some really unique pieces such as the projector pictured below and the scene at the sales is great! The other people who attend are some interesting characters.

Ampro 16mm projector discovered at an estate sale.
Ampro 16mm projector discovered at an estate sale.

6. Garage and yard sales are also handy for general bits and bobs: We used gsalr.com and picked up some inexpensive outdoor furniture.

7. Craigslist is definitely worth looking at for specific items: We bought one of our fish tanks second hand via the site. One thing we did learn and maybe you can learn from our mistake – make sure to check the measurements of what you’re buying. We drove over 40 miles from Santa Monica to Fullerton late on a Friday night and the tank wouldn’t fit in the car… We had to rent a U-haul and drive all the way back the next day. A 160 mile round trip for a fish tank, no biggie!

8. Invest in Amazon Prime if you haven’t already: Free next day delivery, competitive prices and they stock specialty products like furniture wood oil to prevent cracking in the humidity here. I was really worried about this happening and used way too much oil. Slipping around the kitchen for a few days was fun.

9. Also invest in a Costco card if you can: A yearly membership card is $55 but it’s definitely worth it. The store is pretty intense but if you avoid weekends and don’t go just before closing time, it feels like any other store except everything is a multi-pack. Costco is so useful for bulk buying all that sexy stuff such as toilet roll, washing powder and tin foil. They also have some pretty good food. So as long as you have the space to store everything, it’s a no brainer. My husband really likes the frozen crab cakes but they are so smelly that they’ve been banned from our apartment.

10. Last but not least, there are other great websites such as: “PromoCode.” eBay is always a good shout and now there’s that “Honey button you can add to your search bar by Chrome. “Honey” automatically finds and applies coupons when you’re shopping online. We got so into the whole ‘money saving mode’ that, when we found a discarded lamp by the bins/trash cans of our alley, we considered taking it. It wasn’t the right colour unfortunately but if it had been, it would be proudly lighting up our home right now.

That’s my advice for now. Please feel free to share your bargain bagging tips on here too. I am sure there are many other intriguing ones to discover.

xoxo Jessica.

This mirror is one of our lucky finds at an estate sale.
This mirror is one of our lucky finds from an estate sale.

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