18 May 2016

How much does it cost to furnish a house?

When you get the keys to your first property, the chances are you’ll have paid out quite a lot of cash in the months leading up to moving day. As well as a deposit for your mortgage there’s stamp duty and solicitors’ fees, plus the cost of surveys and searches.

If you’ve previously lived at home or in furnished rented accommodation, you’ll probably also need to invest in some new furniture. But this can be easier said than done, if your bank balance is as empty as your living room.

For most people, furnishing a new home is a mix of old, new, borrowed and improvised. We take a look at the pieces of furniture you really need, how much you can expect to pay and where to get the best bargains to start you off.

Start with the basics

A survey by home furnishings specialist Terry's Fabrics put the average cost of furnishing a 3-bed home at £15,215, including everything from furniture to appliances and electrical goods. If that sounds disconcerting, don’t worry - you don’t need everything from day one. Get the best out of your initial budget by choosing items that you really can’t live without. Then you can buy the ‘nice to have’ pieces further down the line when you’ve saved up some cash.

Most people will probably need white goods like a fridge, oven and washing machine (unless they come with the property), a sofa, a bed and a dining table. How much you pay for these items will depend on what you can afford, but there are products out there to suit a range of budgets – from a simple fabric 2-seater costing a couple of hundred pounds to plush designer sofas costing £1,000 or more.

You might find that spending a little bit extra on key pieces and waiting a bit longer for items like coffee tables could pay off in the long run, as your most-used items will be built to last that bit longer.

Finding furniture for less

There are plenty of places you can find furniture that won’t blow the budget. Here are a few of the most popular options.

Car boots and charity shops: You never know what gems will turn up at a car boot or tucked away in a charity shop. Some charities, including Sue Ryder and British Heart Foundation, have shops dedicated solely to furniture.

Friends and family: Many people have a loft or garage full of old furniture that they don’t want anymore, so why not be a bit cheeky and ask if you can have it? It might not be to your taste, but a lick of paint can totally transform a battered old wardrobe and a nice throw can disguise even the most dubiously patterned armchairs. If anyone you know is planning on redecorating a room, ask if you can buy any bits they decide they’re not going to use.

Freecycle: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and there are some great items up for grabs for free on sites like Freecycle. All you have to do is collect them.

Gumtree and eBay: You may have to pay for stuff on these second-hand selling sites but it’s usually a lot less than you would buying new. Gumtree is particularly good for buying furniture as it’s easy to filter by location and find items you can pick up rather than paying a hefty delivery fee.

Ikea: Ikea is great for flat pack basics that don’t cost the earth. We bet there aren’t many first-time buyers who don’t have a piece from the Malm range somewhere in their home. If you don’t want your property to look the same as everyone else’s, you can transform your furniture into unique pieces with a pot of chalk paint, decoupage, stencils or new fabric covers. For more ideas on customising furniture, try the Apartment Therapy blog.

Supermarkets: You can now pick up a sofa or bedside table at Tesco or Asda while you’re doing your weekly shop. Supermarkets tend to issue new collections regularly so there’s often a chance to pick up end-of-range bargains.

Paying for furniture

If you’ve fallen in love with a particular sofa or dining table but you can’t afford to buy it upfront, there are various ways you can spread the cost including finance schemes, 0% credit cards and personal loans. 

Looking to buy your first home?

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