Purchasing your first home or moving to a new house is a big and exciting change but with so many decisions to make, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Aside from the cost of the house itself, furniture is one of the biggest expenses, so you definitely want to make good decisions. Such a commitment can be scary, especially if you’re furnishing your first home, and you want to make sure you love the pieces you buy and have no regrets. So, if you’ve wondering ‘how do I furnish my new house’ or, ‘which furniture should I buy first’ we’re here to help you do it the right way with our informative guide to furnishing a new home. We’re going to take you through all the considerations for buying furniture, how to get started, and common furniture buying mistakes to watch out for.
Things to Consider When Furnishing a New House
The furniture buying process doesn’t look the same for everybody so the first thing you need to do is determine your own personal circumstances, needs and constraints. Let’s break it down.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t have limitless money to spend, especially after splashing out on a new house, so you need to come up with a realistic budget of what you can spend on furniture. If you start with a defined budget, it will make it a lot easier to allocate your spending and avoid purchasing more than you can afford.
What You Already Have
Now is a good time to get rid of damaged and dated furniture and avoid cramming up your beautiful new home with pieces that are well past their best before. A new home is a great place to start afresh with new everything, however not everyone has the budget to buy all new furniture. Some of your existing pieces may be in great condition so there’s no need to replace them. Or you could try your hand at refurbishing your old pieces to fit in with your new home (see our guide here) or find a new use for them. For example, your tiny 2-person dining table could be repurposed for your child’s playroom. At Coastwood we can stainmatch any of our pieces to your existing furniture so the new blends seamlessly with the old. Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping, then you’ll have a better idea of what needs to be bought new.
Interior Design Style
Before selecting new furniture, take some time to find and understand your style. Research different design styles (read our blog on different styles here), save images you love, or take a home décor style quiz. The style and age of your house should also influence the type of furniture you choose; if it’s a brand-new build, then minimalistic, contemporary pieces are great, but an 1800’s villa would suit more traditional furnishings. You don’t have to buy furniture of all the exact same style, but there should be coordination throughout the home.
Durability and Sustainability
It’s easy to go for the cheapest prices or be swayed by the latest on-trend design but you have to think long-term when shopping for furniture. While a cheap fold-out bed might have been good enough during your flatting days, when you’re buying a new home its important to shop with the future in mind and invest in pieces that will last. Not only will this save you a ton of money in the long run but it’s also much more sustainable. (Read here about the environmental impacts of ‘fast furniture’.) As well as quality construction, you wanting to be shopping for designs that will not date quickly either. Sometimes simple styles are best, as they will still look just as great 20 years from now, unlike trendy items which can go out of style faster than a fluffy toilet seat cover.
You know that beautiful, big chest of drawers that looks amazing in the picture online then you bring it home to your small living room and suddenly, it’s out of proportion, the colours wrong and it doesn’t do any of the things you actually need it for? We must face the fact that not every piece, even some we really love, is going to fit into our home. So, when looking for furniture, consider how it will look and act in your own space. Consider the size of your rooms- do you need extra storage or furniture that does double duty? Can you fit a large sofa, or will some smaller armchairs be more befitting to your space? Do you have low ceilings? How much light does your room get? All these things are going to make a difference to which furniture is right for you.
How does the way you live or your family circumstances effect furniture choices? If you have kids or pets you might need to rethink the all-white home you always dreamed of and consider darker colours, easy cleaning fabrics, and soft-edged furniture. If you entertain regularly, you might want an extendable dining table, especially if your space is on the small side. And it’s not just about right now, consider how your lifestyle may change over the next few years. You might only have two people living there now but is this going to be the case in five years? What else could change? Use these answers to choose pieces that are the most practical for you and those you live with.
Where To Start
Once you’ve got an idea of what furniture you need, what do you buy first?
To give yourself some clarity, its easiest to take it one room at a time. I recommend creating mood boards, using a tool such as Pinterest or Canva, to collate images of the items you want in each space. This could include the décor as well and will help you to visualise how everything will work together. Plan out every room that will need furniture, not forgetting spaces like entryways and outdoor areas.
To help you bring each room together, start with a piece you love whether it’s a chair, artwork, or fabric, then you can take inspiration from it and buy furniture to suit. Choose paint colours after, as it is easier to match them to your furniture and décor rather than the other way around.
Then, start with buying the most important items, the items that get used the most, like beds, sofas, and a dining suite. You don’t want to have to sleep on the floor, but you could live without a coffee table for a little while.
When should you start buying furniture for a new house? Always plan ahead, start purchasing your main furniture several weeks or months before you’re ready to move in, to account for possible lead times from furniture manufacturers.
Furniture Buying Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t end up with regrets or looking stupid by falling for these rookie mistakes.
You should never rush-buy anything because you feel pressured by time, or pushy salespeople. The last thing you want to do is end up with a piece you don’t’ like. This usually comes from lack of planning or knowledge about what you’re after, so take time to consider if it’s truly what you want and need, and look out for sales too. If you buy on impulse, you could blow your budget before you have everything you need so it’s important to go about it in a methodical and rational way.
Putting Form Before Function
Don’t prioritise looks over practicality- combine both! Good-looking pieces are highly desirable but if you’re not taking into account all the practical considerations that we covered earlier, then it’s not a good choice. However, there’s no reason why you can’t have both, just remember that functionality comes first.
Buying the Cheapest Option Available
Low price often equals low quality which means it will be no time before you’ll have to replace those cheap pieces, costing you a lot more in the long run. That’s why you need to think of furniture as an investment. Good-quality furniture can last you 25 years or longer, so shop smart and shop NZ made!
Forgetting to Measure
Most importantly, use a tape measure! You can find the greatest piece of furniture that ticks all the boxes but if doesn’t fit in your home, you’ve wasted your time and money. Measure everything, including doorways and staircases. Check if the furniture comes assembled and if you’re going to get it through those tighter gaps. A stately tallboy may look perfect for your large bedroom but what if it doesn’t fit through the door? Don’t let this catch you out! It’s greatly disappointing.
If you follow our tips for fuss-free furniture buying, then the process should be smooth and simple and a whole lot of fun! We wish you the best of luck and hope your new home will be filled with happy memories and beautiful furniture.