on the cheap

during this recession,
it may be wise to think like students
...like when you were 20 and came up
with genius ideas for organizing
and storing things w/o
spending a dime.

1. Kayt uses dresser drawers
as wall mountings.

2. a cooper union student
made a bed frame from
honeycomb cardboard

in college I used a found wooden
bookshelf for our dishes and cups.
and I made a awesome desk from
a 94' compact TV and old crates.
it was so rad. I had films
playing constantly.

what did you do?


Anonymous said...

hello. i've been visiting your blog for a few months now, and i must say, i absolutely adore it. i have a bit of a dilemma, and you seem quite the wonderful person from which to seek advice.

my boyfriend recently moved into a new apartment. he is a single father. his birthday is coming up this saturday, and i'm throwing him a surprise party at his place. problem is, he has no furniture in his living room. hasn't had the money to purchase any yet.

i need cheap ways of obtaining/making furniture before this weekend so that people may have places to sit!

any advice would be very much appreciated.

Cerré said...

Dear B,

Thank you so much for sharing your dilemma with me and everyone else. I truly believe that the best design comes from challenge and limitation. From India to Appalachia to NYU dorms, people all around the world have resourced found materials to make incredibly efficient and homey spaces. There's no reason that you can't do the same. Take a second look at everything you own and look at all of your belongings as a canvas for experimentation. EG: A door can be converted into a table (place a thin sheet of glass over it). A clean stacked books always looks nice. You can loop string around the ends of a piece of salvaged wood, nail the string loops to a wall and you've got a great hanging mantel for candles, etc. Its hard to give you advice when I have not seen your space, but in general:

You have 3 options

1. Think Moroccan. Arabian Nights. Throw lots of pillows on a great tapestry and have the party on the floor. Take shoes off and place small japanese sake cups on trays for wine. Buy grapes and and an assortment of cheeses and you've got a pretty sweet floor lounge.

2. If that's too bohemian, go to your local thrift store, housing works or Salvation army and look for a great wooden bench or table...something that can hold lots people. Think big. if you are to spend money, 2 or 3 signature pieces is much better than lots of knick knats. Sometimes it helps to pullout some interiors photos for inspiration and start searching on craigslist or similar pieces. Sometimes you own them already!!
I would also stick to the existing color palette of his place. eg: If his taste is neutral, stick to nice woods and metals.

3. Craigslist is a god. Tell me where you live and send me a photo of the room and I will find you some incredible things for under $100.

Like I said, if you are to spend money, buy only 2 statement pieces. It mores economic than buying lots of little things. A knock out piece of art is sometimes all you need. You can even make this yourself. Go to an art store, but 2 large canvases and make a dot pattern. I replicated this one for a shoot:


If thats to modern, you can take tissue paper squares in a two-color palette and create a lovely collage. Remember, only use 2 colors. Maybe its a dark and light blue or a gold leaf pattern.

I wish you great luck!!! Let me know if you need more help.

Does anyone else have ideas??

miss milki said...

Back in college I spent a summer working in New York with 2 friends. We rented an unfurnished studio apartment and since we were only there for the summer and had no money to spend we couldn't buy furniture. We slept on mattresses on the floor - which doubled as seats during the day. We made little tables out of cardboard packing boxes from Staples - they doubled as storage and we even stacked them on their sides for shelves. We decorated the place with photos and postcards and fairylights and it ended up looking really nice and was very comfortable. I still think it is one of the best places I've lived!

lydia said...

Goodwill and dumpsters help a lot! If you have fewer places to sit, focus on getting the lighting right. I find people are willing to stay and stand if there's good ambiance. If you have a great textile or two it makes bad furniture go a long way! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Really love the draws idea!
It's so simply yet so clever!

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Hey Lee,
look what I've got:

My large coffee table in Chicago
made from a shipping pallet, books and wood crates


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I used my wooden bed frame as a shelving piece in my college dorm room. Then I dropped out! Check it out: http://photos-a.ll.facebook.com/photos-ll-snc1/v368/97/119/507388753/n507388753_953976_5242.jpg