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Furniture for Your First Home

You are buying your first home.  It’s a lot of work but you really are looking forward to having your own place and you are focused on completing all the necessary steps.  You have spent the last year carefully researching and looking at properties for sale on the internet.  You have talked to numerous estate agents, viewed lots of properties, put in a few offers and eventually you found the best one to suit your needs and the seller agreed to accept your offer.  Mortgage arranged ok, conveyancing steadily progressed and completion will be in a few weeks.

Well done.  You will now need to think about some furniture!

Dining table
Refurbished dining table

How much money did you leave in the budget?  Probably not a lot, but don't worry, it should not really be too much of a problem.

Furnishing your first home is actually a lot easier than you think.  Don't go crazy spending every last bit of money buying lots of brand new items of furniture.  Lots of things will change in your life over the next few years and so will your furniture.  Initially you just need to have functional items in your home that will allow you to live in relative comfort.  Try and get as much as possible second hand and pay out as little as possible.  After that, when everything is much more settled, you can take it easy and make gradual changes and improvements.  Spend your time and your money wisely.

Some general tips are as follows:

Second hand furniture is cheap and there is lots of it around if you know where to look.  The value of old furniture is so low that lots of people getting rid of unwanted items don't even bother to try and sell it.  They take it straight down to the recycling centre and discard it with the rest of their rubbish.

Bed frame
Bed frame

Your local recycling centre (commonly referred to as the dump) is without a doubt the best place to start your search.  I just love visiting our local dump.  I never know what I am going to find and I always feel a level of excitement when ever I am driving down to get rid of my own rubbish.  I arrive, park my car, empty out my bottles for the glass recycling, any iron or tin items for the metal recycling, … etc, until my car is empty.  In my local dump there is a shed where people leave items of furniture.  Over the years I have bought all sorts of stuff.  A chest of draws made of solid wood will cost between £10 and £20.  A chipboard bookcase will be only be £5 to £10.  I have seen solid wood dining tables and chairs for sale for only about £20.  Sofas vary, some are just filthy so avoid, but others are in remarkably good condition and so can be bought for £10 to £20.  Often furniture from the dump will need a good clean but this is not really a problem.

The advantage of getting a bit of furniture from the dump, is that it is very easy, very quick and very cheap.  In addition you are recycling and helping to do your bit to save the planet.  Assuming you have a large car, or a friend with a van, you can pick up your chosen piece, put it straight into your house, give it a quick clean and then start using it.  Eventually, as time and money allow, you will find something better.  It is easy to upgrade.  You get delivery of the replacement and you take the old one back down to the dump for someone else to use.

Old leather sofa
Old leather sofa - cleaned up

Another place for good second hand furniture is charity shops.  These tend to be a bit more expensive but their teams of volunteers have usually given everything a good clean, which will save you some time.  All the money you pay is going to charity, so you can feel extra satisfied knowing that you are supporting a good cause.  Note that the charity shops in town do not generally sell furniture.  You will need to search on the internet and find the ones that have a large amount of space.  They are usually located on the outskirts of town or in industrial estates.

Auctions can be great but it does take a lot of time to go to an auction and prices vary a lot.  If no one else shows any interest, some items will sell for almost nothing, but if a few buyers have their eye on a particular piece, it could end up selling for a lot more that it is worth.  Often the best way to buy things, is to visit the auction rooms beforehand, have a good look, and then leave some bids with the auctioneer.  They will contact you afterwards and let you know if you were successful.

Lots of stuff can be found online from auction sites like ebay and gumtree.  There are also some sites like freecycle that offer stuff free.  In my village we also have a website where locals list stuff they want to get rid of.

You will also have friends who have unwanted furniture that they want to shift but you may not realise it.  Make sure you let all your friends know that you are about to move into your new home and you are looking for some furniture.  Put a post on facebook or what ever social media platform you are using.  Most of your friends will be very pleased to be able to give you something for your new home.  You just need to make it easy for them to realise that you are looking.  You may be surprised with how many offers you get.

Don't forget to ask your parents.  They probably have lots of stuff that they would love you to take with you.

Chest of drawers
Chest of drawers

My son has recently bought a house and here is an overview of what he had collected up on the day he moved in:

  1. Kitchen oven.  Came with the house.
  2. Fridge and Freezer.  My son and his girlfriend both had fridge freezers.  Hers was better so they kept that.  My son's fridge is still in my garage but my wife tells me it is useful having a spare one from time to time.
  3. Clothes washer.  They bought one.
  4. Dish washer (a luxury).  Not really needed.  I wash and dry my own dishes by hand.  These young ones do things differently. They bought a machine.
  5. Beds x3.  My son's girlfriend already had one bed.  Another bed came free from a friend who had cleared the house of an departed relative.  The third bed they bought brand new.  It was delivered on the day they moved in, which would have been great.  Unfortunately the mattress did not turn up until the following week.
  6. Dining table and chairs.  Managed to get these free last year when some friends contacted me to say they were dumping an old oak dining table with 4 chairs.  Would I like the wood or should they just take it to the dump?  Free wood, yes please.  When I picked it up it was too good to break up.  I gave it a good clean and polish, then stored it in my garage ready for the big day.
  7. Sofa and armchair.  Excellent Norwegian leather sofa and chair given to my son by some of my friend a few years ago.  My friends had just moved house themselves and bought a new replacement.  My wife and I gave the sofa and chair a good clean.  Polished the wood and put feed into the leather.  Looks great.
  8. Chests of draws x3.  I had a lovely old mahogany chest that my grandfather bought around 1920.  My son was very keen to have it.  I also had an old travel chest that my grandfather had used in World War I.  It was a bit shot but cleaned up quite well.  I also had a small pine chest of draws that I had bought back in the 1980s.  It wasn't being used much, so it is now with my son.
  9. Bedside cabinet x2.  I had a spare one and managed to find another at the dump.  Both 3 draw units.  The one I got from the dump cost £10 and cleaned up exceptionally well.
  10. Kitchen pots and pans, plates, utensils and other stuff.  Some came from a house clearance from a friend.  Much of the rest was stuff that we had surplice to requirement.  My wife was quite keen to see all these things being used again.  In the future I really must discourage my wife from buying lots of new things for the kitchen.
  11. Curtains.  My wife and I had kept a lot of old curtains and we also had a few more from some friends.  So we gave the young ones a large box full of old curtains which was excellent.  They could choose the most suitable, get them hung up straight away, and then think about buying something better at a later stage.
  12. Large amount of other stuff belonging to my son.  Not sure what most of this was, or if it had any use, but I was very pleased to see it all removed from my house.  Apparently the day after he moved in he did some sorting and then made a trip to the dump to get rid of a lot of it.  The only problem was that he also inadvertently dumped some of our old curtains.  Even with the best planning things never do go completely smoothly.