wow its been ages since i posted on here so it must be fate to find your post!
okay heres my story i'm a aus girl so i'm not to sure if this will help or not . i was a student (graduated whoot!) and broke going into my first and (ultimately failed) first share house.
-my partner collected milk crates (still does
) these make great sturdy bookshelves and you can cable tie them together ( we made a bed base from it and a few tetris themed bookshelves and one desk.)
-http://www.freecycle.org/ great place encourages the reuse of items such a furniture i picked up our old gal of a wardrobe ( oak with beautiful flourishes and clawed feet, which had come off. which i still have *phew* and a beautiful old doctors desk... now gone
-friends / local fates / neighbours / shops I hope your neighbourhood is a friendly one but make your self known to your neighbors you never know a bit of friendly help "and Cookies go a long way to building bridges." often they'll have junk lying around that you could use. and pick up for a song! and most retail shops would love to give you old boxes ( believe me i've worked in a few and dont mind it when people take the boxes!)
-ebay i hate
every things either overpriced our just cheap.
if you are going to make stuff look on http://www.instructables.com/
and pintrest have great ideas!
have a look at that one!) also theres http://www.lifehacker.com.au/tags/furniture/
( just be careful thats an australian site but might be great for plans and ideas!)
and of course http://www.youtube.com/user/ThreadBanger
youtube vids! some people love to share there craftiness here. ( if you get annoyed by music / length muted it and power through it by dragging the bar )
Just had a thought about the couch: throw a bed sheet over it
All the better if it's a Star Wars sheet!
we've done this on our old bomb of a couch! 70's duvet cover with wattle leaves and what not!
Good luck - scar