Way Basics

Buying furniture is a conundrum: buy cheap off-the-rack stuff and count on something not being right (size/shape/color), or get a custom-made piece and blow all the money earmarked for the Franklin Mint Collectible Plates you were going to stock it with. For dirt-cheap furniture your way, check out Way Basics.

Based in Irvine, Basics is dedicated to DIY furniture made from variously sized, durable, water-resistant pieces of what they call zBoard: lightweight units made from 99% post-consumer-waste paper, all sizes/shapes of which can easily be mated to any other piece, in any fashion you please, without a single tool, except the one named you. Boards're sold in instructions-included sets for specific applications (shelving/desks/tables/etc), but all the pieces can be mixed-and-matched for Lego-like customization, with tools/hardware/nails replaced entirely by 3M industrial strength heavy-duty tape, which sounds designed by a super-advanced homeless person, but actually came from scientists. For further customization, Boards come in a slew of different colors (from bright blue to more muted espresso to ersatz cedar), and there're also accessories like mountable wheels; you can also get individual Boards, useful to create extra compartments, or if you really just want a single floor-shelf.

zBoards can hold up to 200lbs, and the site's got a "design gallery" to give you ideas for construction, letting you optimize your furniture to accommodate the 36-piece collector's set of Elvis, even as he gets fatter and fatter.