Included in the loaned furniture was a pull-out sofa bed and a one seater. These were quite old so when my parents came back to Canada I was told I could keep the couches. Conveniently I was moving into my house the same month that my parents were moving into theirs. So to save money we had one moving company load up the contents of my apartment, drop off my portion of the furniture and then deliver the rest to my parent's house.
This was working out great until the movers tried to get my pull-out sofa down my stairs. Let's just say that I preferred to keep the walls where they are for now. Since I really didn't have anywhere to put the sofa upstairs I called my mom at work and said something along the lines of: "Hey mom, trade you a green pull-out for two brown love seats."
When my parents moved into their new place and were waiting for their furniture to come back to them (some of which was being held hostage in my apartment) they were given a set of love seats that the neighbours were trying to get rid of. I'm not even going to try and guess when they were new, but they are solidly built and quite comfy. So the pull-out sofa went back on the moving truck and the two brown love seats came to me.
I must admit I love hand me downs. Why spend $1,000 on a sofa set when you can get one for free? Granted I would at some point like to recover the sofa's (preferably by myself) but for now they are great.
-Don't be shy, ask around if you need something that a friend of neighbour might be getting rid of. You could save them the cost of a trip to the dump.
-You get what you get. Obviously it's a take it or leave it deal, if you want it to match your decor you will probably have to make some changes and it will cost you money.
-Be reasonable. Obviously I didn't expect my parents to let me keep everything that they had lent. (They were very clear about wanting the big screen back.) On the other hand it wasn't over the moon to ask to keep the desk that was bought for my room as a teenager. My parents didn't need or want the desks that they had bought for our rooms when we were teenagers.
-Be thankful. Make sure you show your appreciation to the people who give you stuff. My parent's neighbours have been over for supper or deserts a couple times since their initial generosity. (I also provide my parents with free labour on request, but I don't think anyone is keeping track of who's done more favours for whom.)
(Please ignore the evidence of my needle work obsession on the coffee table)