Furnishing Your First Home

Create a plan for buying new furniture with these tips from Citizens Bank

There's nothing quite like the feeling of walking into your new home for the first time. You'll probably be excited about planning the layout of each room, and a little overwhelmed by the list of the furniture and home décor you'll need to make the space your own. While prices can seem high to a first-time furniture buyer, there are ways to save if you know where to look. So, if designer furniture from a top-tier showroom doesn't fit your budget just yet, the following tips can help first-time homeowners buy new furniture that looks great while staying within budget.

Essentials for furnishing your first home

With so many style, brand and quality options, buying new furniture for the first time can be confusing. Here's a brief guide to the essential pieces of furniture to buy:

  • Couches - A well-made couch will last for years and could even become an heirloom piece of furniture. When you're shopping for couches, look for hand-tied springs, a solid wooden frame (hardwood rather than softwood) and legs that are screwed on (avoid glue-only legs).

  • Coffee tables - A coffee table can serve as an attractive focal point that ties a living room together. Coffee tables are also relatively easy to find secondhand or even to design and build yourself. It's best to purchase a coffee table after you have chosen your couch; pick one that's no more than two-thirds the size of your sofa and about an inch shorter than the furniture cushions.

  • Dining room table - Dining room tables can often be refurbished, so keep an eye out at consignment and thrift stores. Choose a dining room table that fits the size and shape of your dining room; if you can't decide between a large or small dining room table, consider purchasing a table that comes with a table leaf to easily adjust the size.

  • Bedroom set - A solidly made bed and quality mattress will last a very long time, so it makes sense to invest in high-quality bedroom furniture. If you don't have the budget for both a mattress and bed frame, spend the money on a nice mattress; your aesthetic tastes may change, but a good night's sleep never goes out of style.

  • Accessories - When buying accessories, mix inexpensive items with your more costly pieces of furniture. By purchasing mirrors, throw pillows, lamps and other smaller, nonessential items from bargain retailers, you'll have more in your budget for larger items.

Save on new furniture purchases with these tips

While shopping for furniture essentials can put a strain on your wallet, there are ways to save on the cost of furnishing your new home without sacrificing quality. Here are a few suggestions for making smart furniture purchases:

  • Prioritize what you need over what you want - It's easy to get excited about the décor possibilities in your new home, but try not to get too carried away. Prioritize your purchases by first buying the items you need, then moving to the items that you'd like to own but can do without for now.

    A common mistake among new homeowners is spending their entire furniture budgets right away, then realizing shortly after that some of the pieces don't go together or fit the room very well. By purchasing furniture gradually, you can save for the purchases you want while exploring your sense of style in your new home.

  • Hunt for quality secondhand items - Instead of furnishing your entire home with brand new furniture, browse nearby antique, thrift and consignment stores as well as local garage sales. You can also look into online classifieds to see if anyone in your area is selling secondhand furniture. With a little bit of legwork and patience, you could find lightly used pieces at a fraction of their retail price. However, be aware of the risk of bedbugs present in upholstered secondhand items. If you're not comfortable inspecting for bed bugs, you may want to avoid pre-owned purchases for now.

  • Repurpose what you have - When deciding what furniture you'll need, make one list of the furnishings you have and another of furnishings you need or want. Then, evaluate your 'have' list and decide which items can stay indefinitely, which can last for a while longer and which will be thrown away before the move. After that, you can repurpose or restore furnishings that have potential and make a realistic savings plan to replace the items that can't be salvaged. Consider painting or staining old tables and dining room chairs, or reupholstering tired living room chairs and sofas. You might be surprised by how a fresh coat of paint or an interesting fabric can give new life to an older piece of furniture.

  • Consider DIY options - If you have some woodworking experience and the right tools, try building some of your own furniture. Making small, simple pieces of furniture like bookshelves, wine racks and end tables is a great way to save money while learning a new skill. Plus, making your own furniture gives you the freedom to customize the furnishings to your exact specifications.

  • Try furniture rental - For someone with a limited budget, there are stores that will allow you to furnish your apartment either temporarily by renting furniture or permanently with a rent-to-own agreement. You should always ask about the interest rate and thoroughly read contracts to avoid a situation where you save money in the short term, only to spend more in the long run.

  • Before you buy, measure - Before buying new furniture, measure each wall, stairwell and doorway in your house, and sketch a rough floor plan. You don't want to purchase your dream furniture only to discover it doesn't fit through the front door. Furniture always looks smaller in a showroom, so it's wise to bring the actual measurements to get an accurate sense of how it will fit into your own space.

  • Factor transportation expenses into your budget - When you're deciding where you'll get the best bargain, don't forget to calculate the cost of transporting your furniture. For example, while some antique stores offer delivery, you'll have to move most secondhand items yourself. This may not be a concern if you know people who can help and have access to a truck or van, but if not, paying for movers might negate any savings.

Open a savings account with Citizens Bank to begin saving for your new furniture

Picking out furniture for a new home is an exciting milestone that requires planning and preparation. Before you decide to move, you'll want to save enough money to cover moving expenses and new furniture. To begin growing your new home savings, you can easily open a savings account with Citizens Bank.

When you save with Citizens Bank, you'll gain access to convenient banking features like our exclusive online and mobile banking tools. To begin creating a realistic savings plan for furnishing your first home, open a savings account with Citizens Bank today.


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