When it comes to furnishing an apartment on the cheap, it pays to work around one special piece of furniture.
Even if that piece is an upholstered vinyl sectional. From a flea market. In sea foam green, no less.
"It was buried under a ton of stuff," said Barry Rebholz who, along with his father, Jim, discovered the sofa at the Super Flea on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga.
"Barry said 'I always wanted a sectional like that,' but he had a problem with the color. He wanted a neutral, but I told him the color is what makes it really cool," Jim Rebholz said.
"The color grew on me and sparked the theme for the room," Barry Rebholz added.
The L-shaped sectional, probably from the late '60s, now sits in the apartment where Barry Rebholz has lived for about a year. It's a small place in Allentown -- an estimated 700 square feet or so -- in a 19th-century brick home, now divided into five apartments.
Barry Rebholz also landed from the flea market a new faux tiger rug, complete with head -- arguably a steal at $40. A nice fit for the hardwood floor in his living room.
When he moved into the place from a previous apartment, his idea was to furnish it inexpensively; he spent about $500 to decorate the place. And he also wanted items that would be easy to take with him when he moves again.
The idea of a retro look began with the two-piece sectional, said Rebholz, 23, who works in sales at RR Donnelley on Grand Island.
A trio of '70s-era six-sided glass-top tables from his parents are bunched together to create a coffee table. Two tables and several carved figurines, likely from the Philippines, came from his late maternal grandmother and grandfather, whose career in the Navy had the couple traveling the world.
Besides flea markets and family hand-me-downs, other items -- a decorative palm tree, for one -- came from going-out-of-business sales. And when a local restaurant closed its doors, the owner of the new restaurant that replaced it passed along to Jim Rebholz, a chef, a fork wall sculpture.
It's hanging temporarily in his son's apartment, a good match for the 10-foot-high ceiling.
There are new items, too, such as pillows in aquas and browns that dress up the couch, and paper lantern lighting.
His girlfriend gave him a frog sculpture; his brother, some framed prints.
Barry Rebholz, who pays $425 per month in rent plus utilities, describes the living room as "something out of an Austin Powers movie," referring to the comedies spoofing 1960s spy films.
He has enjoyed learning about the history of the house. The house, according to information he gathered from the Allentown Association and online, was built in the Italianate style. Of particular interest: the cast iron pediments capping the entryway and front windows.
And in the small, private backyard, a modern sculpture left by a former tenant serves as the focal point. Come summer, the walls of the surrounding buildings will be covered with ivy, creating an ideal place for entertaining.
Jim Rebholz, a wellness chef known as the Healthy Chef, has enjoyed searching for retro items for his son's place and helping to fix it up.
"I am reliving my bachelor-pad days," he said.
Some other budget decorating ideas found here:
*Barry Rebholz used frosted Contact-Brand window privacy liner to cover the windowpanes. It still lets in light but prevents passers-by from peering inside.
"It's the perfect solution for privacy," he said.
*A product called Liquid Stitch from Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts was used on inexpensive brown fabric to create pockets that slide on a curtain rod. No sewing necessary. Tiebacks finish off the look, and an existing valance was covered in a new wallpaper border with tropical plant motifs.
*To visually separate the living room from the kitchen, inexpensive sheer panels were hung in the corners. The brackets? Old arms from a bentwood rocker.
*In the bedroom, Barry Rebholz took a geometrically patterned shower curtain in aqua and brown and hung it on the wall at the head of the bed.
"It makes the room look a lot less bleak and, again, it's something you can take with you when you move," he said.