Once you’ve done the heavy lifting of actually moving, it can feel just as overwhelming to figure out where to start when turning your new space into a home. But it doesn’t have to be so daunting—moving into a new house or apartment can actually be a beautiful, exciting new chapter. By conceptualizing the atmosphere you want in your new space, furnishing a new home can become a straightforward and positive experience.
But before you can dive right in, there’s some preliminary planning you may want to consider. One of the first steps should be to figure out how much you can afford and what you want to prioritize. This may take some trial and error—there’s no shame in starting a project and realizing it’s not what you want to spend your money and time on.
6 Tips for Furnishing Your Home
The key to finding the right furnishings is to follow your instincts and try not to let the whole process overwhelm you. Once you’ve given yourself a decorating budget, you’ll be able to dive into the more fun aspects of creating a new home. Here are a few tips for furnishing your new home, including estimates of what it could cost you.
1. Consolidate Your Belongings
Part of setting your furnishing budget is identifying what you already have that you would like to keep, and what you will need to purchase. This new home you’re moving into is the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to pieces that don’t suit your lifestyle anymore. (Remember, WWMKD: What would Marie Kondo do?)
When consolidating, start by evaluating the key pieces of furniture—beds, couches, dining tables, and area rugs are good places to start. Review what you have. Did you recently purchase your dream bed or have you had the frame since college? Decide what you are going to keep and what you would like to replace with something new.
Once you determine what you are keeping and what you can say goodbye to, you can sell some of your stuff to make extra cash that you can put toward purchasing new pieces for your home. Whatever pre-loved items you don’t sell, you can donate locally.
2. Start with the Basics
As a rule of thumb for interior decoration, it is best to start with the basics. Taking up carpeting or painting the walls are much easier to do before any furniture is brought into the house.
Prior to move-in day, make a list of any changes you would like to make to the existing interior. Here are some basics to consider:
Walls: Choosing a paint color, patching existing holes, removing popcorn ceilings
Floors: Tearing up carpet, adding carpet, putting in hardwood floors, refinishing floors
Appliances: Selecting kitchen appliances, bringing in a washer and dryer, installing ceiling fans, installing lighting fixtures
Tiling: Retiling the bathroom, choosing a backsplash, re-doing the kitchen counters
Once you’ve made the list of changes, determine what adjustments you would like to make immediately, and which ones could be set aside to tackle in the future. You may be able to live with the blue tiling in the kitchen, but maybe the pink walls in the bedroom aren’t going to cut it. Next determine what you can do yourself, and what will require professional attention. Try to schedule as much of the work prior to move-in day as possible.
3. When Buying Furniture, Start with the Most Important Rooms
Once the basic interior changes have been made, it’s time to start choosing furniture. Tackle the most important rooms first. The living room and the bedroom are two places you likely spend the most time in, so these are good rooms to prioritize. (You don’t want to have a fully organized pantry before you have an acceptable place to sleep.)
Consider the key pieces of furniture you will need in these rooms. The investment pieces—like a bed and a couch—are probably worth spending extra money on in order to get something that will not only last for many years, but that will tie the room together and complete the space.
Bedroom: For the bedroom, a good bed frame and mattress are essential, so these are probably your investment pieces. Some other key elements may be a rug, dresser, and nightstands. Choose a bedroom vibe before buying new pieces, so that you have a cohesive theme throughout the room.
Living room: In the living room, a couch is the centerpiece, so that’s the investment piece (and a good decor starting point). Consider size, comfort, and color. Depending on your lifestyle, a big TV or entertainment center may also be part of the equation. Some other key elements may be an area rug, coffee table, and art for the walls. You may also want to consider pillows, throws, and bookshelves.
4. Keep Things Organized while You Unpack
The two elements that really shape the feng shui of a home are organization and decor. An organized pantry or closet makes life easier, while a curated bookshelf can subtly impact the entire feel of a room.
Cabinets and closets are a good place to start when organizing. First, determine what you already have that can be functional—baskets, bins, free standing drawers, etc. As you unpack your belongings, utilize these tools to stay organized.
If you find you are missing something for your new space that would help it stay neat, that’s likely an important purchase to make. Depending on your lifestyle, organizational purchases for your new home could range from slimline hangers to hiring a service to redesign your closet.
5. See the Big Picture
Lay out all décor pieces you own, including art, books, family heirlooms, photographs, trays, candles, and vases. Ideally, you have already gone through most of this stuff in the initial consolidation phase, so that you’ve only kept things that are meaningful to you or fit your home’s aesthetic.
Once you see everything in one place, begin picking out things that go together. There are no wrong answers here—you might choose books that all relate to travel for your office, or a series of family heirlooms and photographs for your bedroom. Remember to not take this too seriously. This is the most forgiving aspect of interior decoration because smaller décor pieces can be easily shifted.
Once all of your belongings are in place and the art is hung, you can browse online to find some great pieces that resonate with you and your space. It may be time to frame that print you’ve been hanging on to, or to splurge on the perfect pillows for your new couch. These may seem like small additions, but they can make a huge difference.
6. Space out the Purchase of Your Big-Ticket Items
By following these steps, your new home will hopefully begin to feel like just that—a home. Remember that decorating your space is a huge undertaking, and it’s okay if your home looks like a work in progress for a few months. Once you’ve consolidated, organized, and decorated, it may be time to buy your investment pieces.
Do yourself a favor and don’t buy everything at once. Instead, pick your three or four non-negotiables—like a bed, couch, and television—and get those into the house as soon as makes sense. Once you’ve recovered from buying those, you can focus on buying a hall tree, new art, and the rugs and lights you’ve been eyeing.
How Much Does it Cost to Furnish a House?
We compiled a list of potential costs for furnishing a new home to help you create a budget. Keep in mind that these are estimates and reflect a range of prices that will be determined by the quality of the goods you select, where you shop, and the general size of your new space:
Painting – $500 to $1,000 and up.
Paint supplies vary depending on the size of your home, how many rooms, how large they are, amount of trim for molding and doors, and the quality of the paint. Whether you shop at a big box store, your local hardware, or a national paint brand, paint costs run anywhere from $25 to $70 and more per gallon (designer colors can cost more).
A gallon of paint covers about 400-square-feet. If an average room (12’ x12’) is approximately 400-square-feet and you paint two coats (recommended), that would equate roughly to two gallons for walls and another gallon for ceiling and another for trim. That equates to paint costs of about $100 to $270 per room.
Bed – $200 to $2,000 and up.
Simple starter beds are available from Ikea or Wayfair in the $100 to $200 range. You can also find medium-range selections from $200 to $1,000 at those retailers as well as more design-driven vendors such as West Elm, Raymour & Flanigan, and Crate and Barrel.
Mattress – $200 to $2,000 and up.
Newer brands such as Zinus, Casper, and Wayfair offer mattresses starting near $200. Mid-range mattress are available in the $400 to $800 range with sophisticated high-end brands such as West Elm, Raymour & Flanigan, and Tempur-Pedic running upwards of $3,000.
Sofa – $200 to $3,000.
Like your bedroom selection, the sofa can be an anchor piece that you build your entire décor around. In choosing a sofa, you can encounter a similar array of options along the pricing spectrum. The Ikeas, Wayfairs, and Targets of the world offer numerous options for a starter piece for a few hundred dollars.
Mid-range selections run from $300 to a $1,000 from these and other retailers such as Ashley Furniture, West Elm, Raymour & Flanigan, Crate and Barrel, and CB2. At the higher end of the spectrum, there are also more sophisticated designs from exclusive brands such as Roche Bobois, Ligne Roset, Design Within Reach, and many others.
Bedroom set – $500 to $5,000 and up.
Bedrooms sets, similar to sofas and living room furniture can be found in most of the same kinds of retailers and run from modest to extravagant, depending on the expanse of your design and décor aspirations.
Rugs – $30 to $1,000 and up.
Rugs are a cost that’s easy to forget about, and they can be a lot more expensive than you expect. A high-quality 10’ x 14’ Persian rug can run you thousands of dollars. However, some of the mid-range retailers discussed have area rugs starting at $100. Look out for Labor Day and Black Friday sales, too.
Organizational pieces – $20 to $300 and up.
Organizational staples such as boxes, baskets, bins, vanity sets, or free-standing closet systems can add method to the madness. The Container Store has excellent inspiration, and you can suede bins in the $100 range, or plastic under-the-bed storage for much less.
Furnishing a new home can seem overwhelming. When you’re faced with the task of making your new house a home, a low interest personal loan may help ensure you don’t have to cut corners. SoFi personal loans come with no hidden fees, and we’ll consider your credit score, employment, income, and financial history in order to offer you an interest rate to fit your life. You can get started with a simple online application, which takes just two minutes to complete.
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