Episode #187: Furnishing a House from Scratch

  • kalila
  • Feb 23, 2024

This week, we are talking about how to furnish a house from scratch (since that’s exactly what Elsie is doing right now!). Plus, we are telling you our guilty pleasure treasures.

You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show Notes:

Check out Episode #180: Selling Our Home Fully Furnished

Elsie’s Tips for Furnishing a House from Scratch:

  • Have a list of things you want to get right away (a fast list).
  • Make a list for things you want to get over time (a slow list).
  • Work in layers:
    • For example, your base layer would be furniture, curtains, and rugs—things that make your room functional.

Here’s a link to my rug.

Shopping Tips:

  • Create a Pinterest board of everything that you want to buy.
  • Go on eBay and buy coupons for places you will be shopping at.
  • Make a mood board for every room.

Guilty Pleasure Treasure:

Elsie – Danny Loves Pasta
Emma – Cuticle oil pen 

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Episode 187 Transcript:

Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort listen. This week we’re going over how to furnish a house from scratch since I recently sold a home fully furnished and had to start over. Plus, we’re going to tell you our guilty pleasure treasures. All right. So yeah, I think that this is going to be a fun episode. So before we jump in, Emma has had her house sprayed by a skunk three times in the last. How many months? 

Emma: Yeah. We’ve lived in our house for six months and three times our dog has gotten sprayed by a skunk and a couple of weeks ago, it was twice in one week. And it is so sad for our dog because skunk spray if you don’t know obviously it smells terrible, but it’s also like itchy and it makes him sneeze a whole bunch and he’s just clearly trying to protect our house. But I’m also like, Steve, no need, that skunk is not gonna get in the house, just leave it alone. But yeah, and then he smells terrible and then he runs all over the house. So then our whole house smells like skunk. And one night it happened, it was like midnight because skunks are nocturnal. So this week, literally before we started recording, I was like, hold on, I need a few minutes. I’m on the phone with the skunk trapper because we’re paying someone to come and trap them and take them away because we don’t really know what else to do at this point because clearly they keep getting in and it’s like we don’t live in a forest. I live like on a corner lot with a regular little fence in a regular neighborhood. I don’t see why we’re having this skunk problem, but we really are and at the moment our guest bedroom, which is where Steve’s bed is, smells so bad and it has for like a whole week straight. And I’ve tried everything the internet has said to try and it’s not getting better, and I don’t know. I think it is better, but it’s just intense. 

Elsie: So send Emma any suggestions you have for breaking a skunk curse because she clearly has a curse and it needs to be broken. 

Emma: It’s not good. It’s not good over here. You can’t come over it stinks.

Elsie: I’ve never had a skunk experience. So I mean besides like driving, everyone’s had that. But yeah, I’ve never had a skunk experience at my house and t it does sound really scary. Oh my god. 

Emma: It is not good. It is bad. It’s kind of funny too because I actually think skunks are really cute. Like the animals.

Elsie: Oh yeah, they are cute. 

Emma: But man, if you see when I’m like, run the other way, run as fast as you can. Don’t scare it. Like, I don’t know, it lingers. Ah. So that’s my personal story. 

Elsie: Damn you skunks. 

Emma: Feel sorry for me or not however you feel. I feel sorry for myself. 

Elsie: I think they do. I think that everyone feels sorry for you because you’re cursed.

Emma: I am cursed. 

Elsie: Well, I hope that that’s the last time. Three times sounds like enough. You can give us an update in a couple of months. 

Emma: I’ll let you know if the trapping worked if they got ’em. I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve never called an animal trapper before in this way. 

Elsie: I’m like in this way because you did. 

Emma: Well, that was a dead animal. 

Elsie: A snake out of your house. 

Emma: We used to live by a forest and we had some major snake problems then, but now we have a skunk problem.

Elsie: I kind of think it’s a curse that’s following you from house to house. 

Emma: It seems to be. Although nothing really happened to me at Weller and I lived there by myself for a little bit. So maybe it’s Trey’s curse. It’s maybe my husband’s curse. I don’t know, we’re all cursed in this house now cause we all smell a little bit. Oscar’s room is skunk free at least. So that’s good.

Elsie: Well, I am excited about this episode. So recently we sold our house, furnished our house in Tennessee, and we had to, and I did a whole episode about that, a couple of episodes back. So we’ll link that in the show notes. And then today we thought we would spend an episode talking about what it’s like to furnish a house from scratch because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it and I do think it’s interesting. It was fun, and it was definitely both very fun and kind of a lot of pressure to do it like so speedy, but I would say mostly fun. And I will say I’m considering this episode, I’m giving us one of those little mental bubbles, and I am considering this episode a judgment-free zone because I think that talking openly about buying furniture for your entire house was a little target on my back and I accept that, I get it, but it is like kind of what happened practically and like whatever. And yeah, I thought I would start with the judgemental story, just for the fun of it to sort of like influence everyone to not be this way. Okay. So you know how in your DMS sometimes, I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but every once in a while, it doesn’t happen to me much, but someone will send a message that’s like obviously meant for their friend, that’s shit talking you, but it comes to you. 

Emma: Yes. That’s amazing. 

Elsie: Yeah. And I don’t know how it happens. 

Emma: It’s in their brain, they’re like talking about you, and all of a sudden they accidentally click over to sending it to you, that’s so funny. 

Elsie: And I think they maybe, I don’t know if they know it or not, but yeah, so I got one. I haven’t gotten one in a long time, and I got one the other day that just said she sold all her kids’ books and it like bugged me so freaking bad because, well, I’ll tell the whole thing. It bugged me so bad because first of all, I bought all our books recently, like last year. So we made the hidden Library only like a year ago, a year and a half ago or two years ago. It wasn’t even there. It was like, it wasn’t there, it didn’t exist. So, I guess what I wanna say in defense of myself and in defense of, I guess it’s a life lesson I learned throughout this experience. One of my friends on Instagram also, had her house burned down and we were sort of commiserating about it, this is a little bit of similar things, having your house burned down versus selling your whole house furnished is the realization that 99% of the things in your house are replaceable, and it’s something that I think we just don’t realize that, but it’s true for probably all of us. And yes, I have family photos and I have this really special painting of my grandma and I have a couple of pieces of clothing and a couple of mementos, my kids’ painting, and things like that. But overall, 99% of the things in our house are things I could just buy again tomorrow from regular stores and we wouldn’t even notice that they were different. And I think that that’s good. I think that it should be encouraging and it should be a healthy reminder that this is all just stuff. And even when it’s a curated collection of beautiful books where you picked out every single one and you’ve either read them or you intend to read them, it’s still stuff that you could replace in one day with a list and a credit card. You know what I mean? Yeah. So, anyway, from my perspective, I wasn’t really upset about the person, I thought it was mean, what they said. But the more I thought about it, the more I was like, first of all, I’m thankful that I know now that everything’s replaceable and it’s not a big deal to me. I’m not crying over the books, and we will buy our kids just as many books, probably way more in our new home, and they’re not gonna be like lacking for books. I promise you for one single day of their lives they’re just not. And the other thing that I learned from this experience is that I was extremely honored to leave a fully styled, fully perfect kids’ library for another family to enjoy. And that was actually a really cool experience. I felt like I was compensated for making this beautiful thing and I’ll be able to make another one for my kids in the future. And I don’t know, I thought that was kind of cool too. So anyway, now we’re in the judgment-free bubble. 

Emma: Except for me, I’m gonna judge you as much as I want, as usual. 

Elsie: I know. I actually, love your judgements though. That’s fine. I can take it for sure. Okay, let’s chat about it. 

Emma: Yeah. So where did you start? I guess because I feel like to me it sounds so overwhelming to be like, oh, okay so they bottle the furniture. How exciting, positive thing, now that I’ve wrapped my head around it, so it’s like, what do you start collecting first? Did you make a hierarchy of needs or how did you even prioritize? Because obviously at some point you’ll run out of budget or whatever and just like leave some things off just like a renovations, but it’s like how did you know where to start and what was the process of that kind of thing? 

Elsie: Yes. I definitely have some shopping tips to share. So the first thing is, I think it’s important to have a list of things you wanna buy immediately, like a fast list, and things you wanna collect over time, a slow list. So some examples of things that I think would be good to put on the fast list are beds, bed frames, mattresses, furniture, rugs, and things that are foundational to your room that are annoying to move in and out. Just the base layer of having all the basic things, curtains, like that. And things that I personally think are better to do slowly are decor, wallpaper, details, collections, antiques, art, and even framing and hanging pictures. That’s something that I’ll wait a few months until I’ve lived there for a little while and thought about it a little bit before buying it all and putting it up. So, yeah, I kind of just think about it in two layers and the layer that I’ve been working on at first is kind of just like the base layer, which I would also call the furniture layer. And it does include curtains and rugs, but pretty much the things that make your room functional and comfortable, like having the right amount of tables and chairs. We talked before about how something annoying that happened was that during the pandemic we had just moved into a home and I didn’t buy all the furniture. Or maybe, I don’t know if it didn’t come, maybe it was back ordered or something happened, but I didn’t have any tables or any chairs in our home, we only had one on the porch. Through pretty much the most intense part of the pandemic when it was like staying home 24-7 times, and that was like a huge mistake. So this time, even though I would’ve rather probably spent more time and gotten all antique tables and things like that, I just bought good tables from Wayfair and called it a day and they’re done, they’re already set up, they’re already there. And I know that we’ll have a place to sit in a bed and the basic things. 

Emma: Yeah, basic things, that makes sense. Okay, you just mentioned Wayfair, but you’ve also mentioned that you really like changing your style. It’s gonna be very Knives Out one, Knives Out, originally inspired. So how much of the house so far at least, would you say is old things like antiques or one-of-a-kind versus, newer things like you mentioned buying a table on Wayfair, and how do you mix the two, I guess would be my follow-up question?

Elsie: So I would say it’s been 50/50 so far, with furniture and rug. So my wonderful, amazing father-in-law went with me to the flea market the other day. I had three days in Springfield, Emma, actually, we met our parents in St. Louis for a Mother’s Day weekend, and then I drove home with her, and then I had three days to spend. I didn’t even have a car, I just stayed at the pink house and walked back and forth from the pink house to our new house the entire time. 

Emma: And it rained a lot. I was like, uh oh.

Elsie: It rained a ton. I had a rain jacket that was good. And then, flew home after three days. So anyway, during that time what we did was we undid every single box, which was great, and got rid of all the boxes, and set up all the furniture. So we did get a good amount of new furniture, especially things with very specific sizes. For example, bedside tables, dining tables, sofas, and rugs were mostly new. Actually, I got a good amount of vintage rugs too. I think vintage rugs are really, really easy to find and specific.

Emma: You can buy those online. 

Elsie: Yeah, and then my father-in-law went with me to the flea market and I was telling Jeremy all the stuff I was gonna get, but I hadn’t been there in like a month. And he was like, how do you know they’re gonna have that stuff? And I was like, they always do and I just believed it would be there. 

Emma: She manifested the furniture.

Elsie: Yeah. But it’s true that they always do and actually the entry table that I really wanted, I had seen it before a couple of times ago, so it had been there for a little while. So I got a couple of sets of chairs and I think we got like 14 chairs and an entry table and he had to go to leave and go get his trailer because he didn’t realize how much stuff I was gonna get, and then we tied it all down and drove it back and it was just like such an exciting, good feeling. And I don’t mind at all buying stuff from Wayfair and Amazon and places like that a hundred percent, it’s just practical and functional. But I loved getting all these chairs with like character and personality and not having to pay shipping, not having to wait, that part of it was so great too. Yeah, I think I’m gonna try to keep going 50/50, I think it’s a good balance because I don’t think every single thing in the house can be antique, but I kind of want it to look that way. I don’t wanna have anything that you can tell is new or from Target, or from Ikea or modern or whatever. I don’t wanna have anything that’s like a new trend. So yeah, you’ll have to tell me if I actually can achieve that, but that’s my intention. 

Emma: Great. That’ll be my role. I’ll come over and be like, that’s new. And you’ll be like, no, it’s an antique. And I’ll be like, okay, that’s new, and you’ll be like, okay. Yeah, that’s new. That’ll be my guessing game. 

Elsie: Yeah, totally. It’s been so much fun. I had this moment a couple of years ago where, I don’t know my style just changed overnight. The house I wanted to live in, just like completely changed overnight and I don’t know what, I can’t pinpoint, I would say Knives Out had something to do with it, but also it was like, do you remember when we read the book playing big and I did the future self visualization. I saw myself in this certain kind of old house with sort of like a Knives Out house, a darker, richer, antiquey vibe. And that is previously not a style that I would’ve gravitated toward in any way. So I kind of love that I feel like I’m like living different lives in my design aesthetic. And we just switched over completely from like Palm Springs, Elsie, to like Knives Out Elsie and there was no in-between. 

Emma: I guess your Nashville house was the in-between, but it was like turning a nineties house into more of a Knives Outhouse. But, there are limitations.

Elsie: It had a little bit of both, you’re right though.

Emma: It had a little both. Okay, well what about some shopping tips? Did you get any antique shopping tips? Shopping for new stuff tips. Let’s hear it because you’ve been shopping a lot.

Elsie: Yes. I feel like a professional shopper. It has been pretty fun. It was maybe a lot to do the whole house because I ordered almost all the furniture for the house in one weekend and it was a little bit like a mind-bending exercise. I think I definitely got shopping fatigue. Where I’ve had to sort of like go back and that’s where I think the layered approach is helpful because it’s like, just get the base, just get the things we need, and then there are certain things where I know I can always add it later, but yeah my tips are, first of all, I had a private pin board with everything saved that I wanted to buy, and I did it for a few months before. Pretty much as soon as I knew that the furnished house sale thing was happening, I started this pin board of beds, dressers, rugs, all the main stuff, the things that are like expensive where you wanna get it, right? And I spent some time overthinking those things and I kind of just don’t worry about overthinking small things because I just think you don’t need to. But I think it’s good to overthink before you buy a 9×12 rug. And then another tip, I think I’ve said this before, but whenever I am buying large purchases from big box stores, I do this thing where I buy coupons from eBay, places like Anthropology, Creighton barrels, Serena and Lilly, places like that, there are just people who, they just get, a magazine or an ad in the mail and they put it on eBay, where you can buy it for, I don’t know, maybe $10 or $20, and you get like a 20% off coupon, which can be hundreds of dollars when you’re buying major purchases. Like when I bought my kids’ bedroom furniture, it was all from one store. So it’s like important to have coupons for things like that. So that’s a good tip. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal in everyday life when you’re buying one or two things, but when you’re buying a lot of stuff it’s super helpful. It’s pretty much like a Black Friday sale or something that you can like, make for yourself. And then my other advice is to make a mood board for every room, which I know is annoying and I know is a lot of work. I honestly don’t do it for every room, but I do it for the rooms where I’m having trouble deciding. I think it’s really, really helpful, especially for bedrooms. If you have a wallpaper pattern, a pattern on your rug, or a pattern on your comforter or quilt that can become too many patterns really quickly. So it’s really good to just put them all in one place where you can see it all. And make sure that you get the right balance that you’re gonna be happy with because individual items are just so different from how items look together in a room. So yeah, those are my chopping tips. 

Emma: Well, you mentioned you were in town for three days, and you’re setting things up, tell us about setting up the house before your family really gets to see it because you were here by yourself. 

Elsie: Yeah, I would honestly say the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life is like a three-day period. It was so physically hard. After the first day I was like, I think my back is messed up. On the second day, I was like, I think my foot’s messed up. And on the third day, I had something wrong with me, I don’t remember.

Emma: And on the third day you rose again. 

Elsie: I had bruises, it was just a mess. And okay, here’s the funny thing, I have these safety knives, it’s a box cutter that’s a little safer for like children and stuff. And I will link it in the show notes because it’s a great box cutter. It’s definitely all I use it cuts through like tape and stuff really easily, but I actually stabbed myself in the hand with it. And what’s funny is I had already stabbed myself in the finger with a knife in my kitchen the week before. I actually stabbed myself in the hand with this box knife and it didn’t cut me at all. So I have to say it’s a great purchase. Everyone needs it. It’s not just for kids because I just thought of it as safer for kids. In case you accidentally leave it out with the kids. 

Emma: No, when I saw it, I was like, oh, I should buy one of those because I always get an Amazon box, I just open it with like our kitchen scissors because they’re just like right there in the drawer and I always feel like I’m gonna slice myself. So I was like, oh, that box opener looks great. 

Elsie: Yes. So yeah, it was very fun. On the last night, I painted a hole. There was this Vintage cabinet, it had been in Emma’s holiday house and it had been in my pink house garage for like six months, and we brought it over and I painted it to match the other. I’ve made a sort of like a temporary kitchen situation with cabinets, because our kitchen had almost no cabinets at all, and we took out the island to add a new island, but then there was like a ton of wall space all around. So we decided to just add a few cabinets from Amazon. And I got the hidden trash cabinet, so that was cool. And then we just had one in our pink house, so I thought I could just use that and not waste it. So, I just painted it real quick and it was so fun. I was listening to a teenage romance novel and just painting really late at night by myself and it was fun. So, yeah, it was extremely fulfilling. It was the best feeling ever to just work so hard, so fast. And then when I left, all the furniture was unboxed, all the boxes were off the porch. Thank you, Mom and Dad. The only thing that I didn’t get done was hanging curtains, so I’m still trying to find a poor sole to help me with that. But I mean, really I got pretty far. So I was thrilled and I definitely recommend it if you’re moving into a house if you can just give yourself a couple of days. And I did have, I will say a couple of paid helpers, people that I paid to help me all day, every day so we could get more done. 

Emma: Yeah because that stuff’s heavy. You need someone to help you move something like you can’t do it on your own. 

Elsie: And my father-in-law was the biggest badass of all time. Yeah, he should not have let me know that he has that trailer. Don’t you think that’s a bad life choice?

Emma: I was like, Ooh, I think this is now his job, he’ll see with her flea market fines and I’m just like, well, good luck Gary. Hit him a good Father’s Day gift. 

Elsie: Anyway, it was totally worth it, it was so fun and I can’t wait to move in and show the kids, we left cute things in their rooms to make them feel at home. And we booked a cleaning two days before we move in. So, that was pretty good. 

Emma: Yeah. It’s gonna be great. 

Elsie: I’m so nervous. 

Emma: Nah. It’s gonna be great. It’s already set up. It’s gonna be clean. It’s gonna be great. 

Elsie: Aw. Well, I’m excited, and yeah, for anyone who has a chance to sell a home furnished, my advice is to go for it and do it. Definitely speak up if there are one or two things that you just like love so much that you know are not replaceable. I’m not saying to sell like your favorite antique thing or a family heirloom or something. But no, I do think it’s good to learn the life lesson, that almost everything is replaceable. And honestly, you could buy a whole new house of stuff in a weekend and it’s okay, it’s not that big of a deal. So I don’t know, I feel like that’s a good reminder that the most important things in our home. It’s honestly not, the books, books are amazing, but really it’s the memories of reading them and making stuff, it doesn’t really matter. If all your books are gone, you can just get more.

Emma: Yeah. You can get more and write new ones every year, it’s magic.

Elsie: It is magical and I want to collect books till I die.

Emma: Yeah, same new ones too. I love buying new books as they come out. It’s so much fun.

Elsie: Yes. My pre-ordering is pretty aggressive right now.

Emma: I love pre-ordering because then it’s like sometimes I kind of forgot that I pre-ordered it and then it just comes in the mail as the book comes out, and I’m like, yes, past self has surprised future self and I’m so happy. Then you like have the book right as it comes out and it’s so cool. Okay, let’s do guilty pleasure, treasure. Do you have a guilty pleasure for us? 

Elsie: So my guilty pleasure treasure this time is Danny Loves Pasta and I don’t think I’ve talked about him on the podcast before, have I? I don’t think so. 

Emma: I don’t think so. I’m not on the podcast. 

Elsie: So, first of all, I just wanna plug, Danny Loves Pasta’s cookbook, which releases on June 27th. It’s a pasta cookbook. It’s a novelty, if you like, Rainbow Pasta, things like that, cute, beautiful. If that’s your kind of thing like those videos on Instagram and TikTok are kind of like my entire soul. And it just brings me so much joy. So it’s that sort of thing and anyway, he made a cookbook. It looks very beautiful. It’s very rainbowy. But the other thing I wanted to say about him is that he is the reason I rejoined TikTok. So I deleted my TikTok in exactly March of 2020 when the pandemic began, and I felt like as a mom, but working mom with two kids at home, the pressure, I think a lot of people at that time were like, we’re staying home. You should blow up your TikTok and I was just like, oh my God I can barely survive right now. So I deleted my TikTok for two years and didn’t look at it at all or log in for two years. But then Keeley sent me these, Danny Loves Pasta videos where he was making Harry Potter house scarves pasta, and he got me to rejoin and I actually do enjoy TikTok again now. So I feel like I have to give him credit for that, that he did something so special and joyful that he made a whole app that can be oftentimes toxic and annoying. He made it joyful and a happy, wonderful place.

Emma: They should make it like a button in TikTok and Instagram where like if you rejoin, you can put in the name of the person who inspired you to rejoin, and then they send them 20 bucks or something, or 50 bucks. Wouldn’t that be amazing? 

Elsie: Honestly, yeah. I feel like it was special because I didn’t think I was ever gonna rejoin. 

Emma: And then you saw that Harry Potter pasta and you’re like, well, okay.

Elsie: I knew that there was a happy world out there. Okay, what’s back yours? 

Emma: My guilty pleasure treasure is so random. I was showing Elsie before we started recording, but I mentioned a few episodes ago about how I got hypnotized for not biting my nails and I’ve been doing great with that, which is awesome. And anyway, I recently bought myself this cuticle oil and that is my guilty pleasure treasure that I wanna talk to you about. So, this one is like $4 on Amazon. I can link it in the show notes, but basically what I like about it is it’s a good cuticle oil, I like that, but it’s really small. It’s the size of a pen so you can keep it in your purse. I keep mine on my desk so it’s shaped like a pen, and then on one end, it has a brush. It’s very similar to if you ever saw the dazzle stick that we talked about, how we clean our jewelry. It has a brush on one end, so you just take the cap off and then it makes a little clicking sound as you push the oil through the brush. I’m gonna do it for you. I don’t know if you can hear that, but, so it makes this little clicking sound and then the oil comes up through the brush and then you just brush it on your cuticles and I love it. I think it’s something to do. I mean, I love the cuticle oil, but I think it’s like the clicking sound.

Elsie: My cuticles are I think that they’re naturally a little bit above average, but they’re, as far as taking care of them, I would say it’s below average. So I can do better, I could try. Okay, so I guess let’s go to a joke or a fact with Nova. Hey, Nova, this week, do you have a joke for us or a fact?

Nova: Joke. 

Elsie: Okay. 

Nova: What does a peanut go, like? 

Elsie: What does he go like?

Nova: When he tells a joke. 

Elsie: What? 

Nova: He goes nuts. 

Elsie: Oh, that’s a good one. That’s very good. 

Emma: Thanks so much for listening. You can submit any questions, comments, or if you just wanna write us and be sweet, we get those a lot and they often make me cry. And you can write us at [email protected] or you can call and leave us a voicemail of questions. And that’s 417-893-0011. We’ll be back next week with tips for how you can do it all. Spoiler, you can’t.

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