Time for a hunt in your childhood home.

By Melissa Locker
Josh Gibson 800 Square Foot Cottage Entry Storage
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Southerners love a bargain and they love a well-decorated home filled with family heirlooms, cozy furniture, and enough dishes to feed a crowd without ever needing to rely on paper plates. Unfortunately, finding bargains to fill your home can be quite the challenge, especially if you're on a budget or in a time crunch. That's why we love this essay that author Sarah Magnuson wrote over at Apartment Therapy extolling the virtues of "shopping" in your parents' basement before embarking on any home decorating project.

Family homes tend to be where kids grew up and moved out, leaving behind all those items that are precious, but not so precious that they actually want them in their new homes. Those semi-precious belongings usually are eventually tucked into a basement (or garage, attic, barn, or a backyard storage shed) left to be discovered later. The basement may also be where your parents stored their wedding china or record collection, or where all of grandma's belongings ended up when she decided to cruise around the world, or where the family has been shoving things for a yard sale that has never quite happened. Wherever your family stores their forgotten knick knacks, throw rugs, side chairs, memorabilia, and crystal bar glasses is where any aspiring redecorator should start their next redecoration project.

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Start the hunt the next time you're visiting and who knows what you might turn up. There could be a forgotten family portrait that will look chic when framed and hung on your wall, a silver tea service that was a tea party favorite as a child, or a family record player, brass bookcase, shag throw rug, or your mom's favorite macramé planter from the ‘70s that is suddenly back in style. While you may find some treasures, the best part about shopping at home is that whatever you find is imbued with family memories. Of course, the other best part about shopping in your parents' basement is that usually parents are happy to hand it over for free or, if they are prone to driving a hard bargain, ask you to stay for dinner.

Naturally, this shopping-at-home concept isn't limited to your own parents' house. Ask aunties or grandparents or other family members or friends who won't mind if you rifle through their basements to find a few goodies. They may even appreciate the chance to stroll down memory lane and clear out a bit of space at the same time.

So the next time you're looking to refresh your living room or add a few objets d'art to decorate your den, don't start at Target or HomeGoods, but head to your parents' basement instead. You'll probably find a treasure without spending a penny.