Moving house is a pretty expensive game, and when you have to buy a whole house of furniture too, it only makes it worse. That’s the scenario Connor and I were faced with back at the end of May, and we realised that we had a three bedroom flat and no furniture. Up until now we’ve always lived in furnished accommodation, so we really were starting from scratch with no furniture at all. I thought I’d share some tips for furnishing your place with a budget, without looking like you live in an IKEA showroom.
Set a clear budget.
You need to be sure what you’re dealing with, and it’s no use steaming on with furniture shopping if you don’t have a clear idea on your budget for the place. Connor and I stayed with my parents for six months while our flat was being bought and renovated which was a great chance for us to save money. Even if you shop smart furniture isn’t cheap, and you’re going to have to part with a fair bit of cash if, like us, you’re furnishing a whole place.
For Connor and I we knew we needed to get a bed, a dining table and a sofa, everything else for us was less urgent. We were happy to go a month without a coffee table to make sure we got the right one, and we still haven’t found storage for our bathroom. Figure out what you need right away, and what can wait til the next paycheck or the one after that. It’ll be less of a blow all at once for your bank balance, and sometimes it helps to live in a space first to figure out what furniture it really needs.
Beg, borrow and steal – for now.
Furniture buying is expensive, and if you can borrow things from family, or make do with hand me downs to get you started, do! Our dining table was Connor’s Dad’s and whilst it’s not right for the space (I find the white table against white walls and a grey floor a bit too stark) it does the job for now. It means we don’t have to eat all our meals on the floor until we can afford the table we want! This way we aren’t settling for something we don’t like just because we need something asap, and we don’t have to part with any cash til our furniture expenses are a little lower!
Homesense is your best friend.
I’ve found so many bargain pieces in Homesense, chairs, side tables and most notably my desk! They offer massive reductions on gorgeous high quality furniture pieces, but obviously there’s no guarantee they’ll have what you want! Despite not moving in to the flat until the end of May, I was regularly checking our local Homesense for furniture from January. If you find something you love though, you need to be prepared to buy it there and then or you’ll miss out! I ummed and ahhed over a desk chair and ended up regretting not picking it up! I bought my desk back in January even though it was far too soon because I just fell head over heels for it (and it was £109 in the sale down from £400).
Don’t be afraid of buying ‘damaged’ stock.
Damaged doesn’t always mean ugly! I got my beautiful West Elm Desk Chair half price because there were some scratches to the wooden legs that came out with a little polish, and I’ve got an IKEA dresser with a chunk missing from the back that’s against the wall! Obviously don’t go for a table that’s missing a leg but if you’re willing to buy something that has fixable damage, or damage that would go unnoticed, you can score some great bargains!
Find local outlets!
Three of my favourite pieces in the flat came from the John Lewis Outlet in Swindon, it was worth the four hour round trip for the money we saved! Outlets are a great way to bag higher quality, or more expensive pieces at a great price. For example, I’d been lusting after my West Elm Bar Cart for over a year, but would never have parted with £400 for it, but when I spotted it in the John Lewis outlet for less than half the price, I knew it was coming home with me! It was still expensive for a piece of furniture you certainly don’t need, but I loved it so much that I couldn’t resist the bargain! It’s also worth signing up to the mailing list of your favourite, more expensive brands, because sample sales do happen in the furniture world, and you can grab some real steals.
Too much IKEA in a room can run the risk of making your space look like a flatpack showroom. Luckily, there are tons of IKEA hacks online, really affordable ways to customise your cheap furniture, to make it look more unique and more expensive.
Take advantage of 0% finance.
Brands like DFS and Next Home offer 0% finance on their furniture, so you can have your furniture now and pay monthly at no extra cost. This is a great way to keep your initial costs down if, like us, you have a lot of furniture to buy in one go, or if something needs replacing and you don’t have the budget for it.
We saved money by buying things we cared less about, like chest of drawers and the bed for our spare room from IKEA, so we could splurge more on items that were important to us, like our sofa. We bought our bedframe in the sale so we could spend more on our mattress. Prioritise your funds on what you need and what matters to you!
Do you have any tips for furniture shopping?