I started entirely with free weights and a bench at home, and still do a ton of barbell/dumbbell lifts at the gym today. You can do just about everything you need for a full-body work out. And yeah, that includes dead lifts (no one's telling the guy to dead lift twice his weight or anything!). Start light, focus on performing the lifts with proper form, and add weight in increments. I think you'd be surprised how much you can accomplish in a few months.
You should easily be able to do: bench/chest presses, chest flyes, biceps curls (multiple variations of this), triceps dips, triceps extensions (overhead, lying on bench), military shoulder press, shrugs, front/lateral shoulder raises, one-arm row, bent-over row, squats, lunges, dead lifts, crunches, russian twists... if you need more ideas, let me know.