Furnishing your new home

After the ink dries on your closing agreement and you test the keys in the lock, it’s time to face the prospect of turning that now empty house into your next home. So, how do you satisfy your champagne decorating tastes on what’s likely to be the diet cola budget you have left?

Here are some pointers on how to fill your home with furnishings while holding onto what’s left of your nestegg.

#1: Take your time. Furniture is an investment—and returning it is problematic if it doesn’t fit in with your décor or, more literally, through your doorways, in your building’s elevator, or up the staircase to the second floor. So, order fabric and wood stain swatches when they are offered and measure. Also, consider using one of the decorating apps that you can download to help you map out your room before you start investing your time and money.

#2: Buy with the use in mind. Young children and pets can be very hard on furnishings. Washable slipcovers, indoor/outdoor fabrics, and other hardy options like leather may be worth considering if you have or anticipate adding either to your household. Although online shopping can offer significant savings, it’s best to try to find the same item locally. That way, you can sit in it, test the drawers, and make sure you can live with it before ordering it elsewhere.

#3: Stalk sales and discounter sites. Knowing what you want and having a bit of patience are the keys to saving. Different furnishing items go on sale at different times of the year. For instance, indoor furniture typically goes on sale in January and July, ahead of new items hitting the showrooms. Reductions on outdoor furniture begin in August as people head back inside in many parts of the country. Outdoor pieces reach clearance status in October when holiday merchandise requires maximum floor space. Similarly, back-to-school accessory items intended for dorms are usually on sale once students are back on campus, making it an excellent time for furnishing teen bedrooms. Where mattresses are concerned, the new model year starts in June. This is why May sales—especially Memorial Day weekend sales—tend to be compelling as retailers look to make way for fresh merchandise.

#4: New or used? Because other people do make mistakes regarding their furniture’s size and how it will fit in, or because they no longer need it, consider buying gently used pieces. With the proliferation of apps—including Chairish and Everything But The House—for selling used household items and estate sale items, it can be a more efficient way of finding pieces than touring resale shops. This is also a good way to acquire high-end designer pieces at more affordable prices.

As with other items, used furniture also has a prime season for deals. It is at its most plentiful in the late spring and summer months as people move after the school year ends and garage sale season begins. Shops are generally overwhelmed with inventory at this time.

#5: Negotiate: Do your homework before you enter a store. When you arm yourself with copies of online pricing from competitors, you can often get a deal from your local retailer and even the national chains. This is especially effective with mattresses. When furniture salespeople work on a commission basis, they tend to be particularly agreeable to making concessions on pricing, delivery, and accessories around the end of the month to get the sale done. 

While your main goal in buying your home is to have a place of your own, furnishing it with things you love and enjoy having around helps make it your home.