Maybe you’re dreaming of buying your first home. Or maybe you just upgraded to your dream house and those beautiful rooms look a little … well … empty.

Many new owners face the challenge of how to furnish their houses – especially after putting down a nice chunk of change on the down payment. So here are some practical tips on furnishing your new home!

Get the necessary furniture first

There’s some furniture that is pretty essential to have the day you move in. This starts with your bedroom – you want the best mattress you can afford. (The bed frame might have to wait.) You’ll also want a bureau or chest of drawers to store the stuff you can’t hang in the closet.

You’ll also need a dining table big enough to seat the people living with you. And chairs. Plus, every house needs a comfortable sofa for relaxing, reading, watching TV, and taking a nap when you’re exhausted from unpacking boxes.

Next plan – prioritize, and budget

Once you’ve got the essentials, stop and take a deep breath. We understand wanting to finish right now – but you might not have the money. Maybe more importantly, people who take time to figure out what they really want, end up happier with what they get.

Decide what’s important to you. If you love to cook for people, then a larger dining table and more chairs might come first. If watching sports with friends is what you want, then another couch for the living room goes high on the list. Things like end tables, lamps, and bookcases can come later.

Settle on what you can spend and stick to your budget. Remember, plenty of people furnish their homes bit by bit – and take quality over quantity. Buy one piece you’ll own the rest of your life rather than three pieces you won’t.

Buy secondhand (with a couple of exceptions)

The right plan helps you buy secondhand. You can find good, budget-friendly furniture on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, as well as at yard sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops. And you can find it at good prices. You just have to be patient and shop around.

Knowing what you want also helps with relatives who might be delighted to give you furniture. (Maybe because they want it out of their house.) But that doesn’t mean you want it in yours. Having a plan can help you decide.

Now come the exceptions. Buy your mattress new. In most cases, getting a used mattress is a no-no. The same is true for upholstered furniture. Buying a sofa new is safer than buying it off someone’s front yard. It’s a little different if you know the owner of the sofa and where it’s been.

DIY savvy makes a difference

Imagination helps! A couch that is comfortable but not to your taste can be dressed up with a slip cover. Mismatched dining chairs can be painted to make them look more alike. A beautiful cloth hides a tabletop that’s seen better days. You can refinish wood and replace hardware to help a piece of furniture fit your home.

Don’t get too caught up thinking everything has to match. Those perfect rooms you see online and in stores might not look right when you get everything home. Plus, you can always tell people your furniture style is “eclectic.”

Don’t forget to measure beforehand

Rooms can appear bigger than they are. And furniture can look smaller. Don’t trust your eyes to get these right. Get out your tape measure instead when you’re moving furniture.

Measuring will tell you if a piece fits the room. You don’t want it to look too big or too small in the space. Also measure the doorways, hallways, and staircases between the outside of your house and the room where the furniture will go. A great couch for your family room isn’t great if you can’t get it through the door.

If you are good on furniture, take a look at our handy decorating tips to further make your new house your home.

Subscribe to Email Updates