How to Furnish a House: A Checklist for First Time Home Buyers

Published on July 10, 2017

– 6 min read

For first time home buyers, knowing how to furnish a house can come with a big learning curve. Particularly if you’re moving from a small apartment to a bigger home, it’s overwhelming to consider all of the items you’ll need to fill the space.

Use this handy checklist to make sure you’ve got everything covered, including what to buy, how to best shop for those products and how to decide what you truly need—and what you don’t need.

Step 1: Don’t Jump the Gun

First things first—it’s critical not to make any major home purchases until your loan actually closes. This is because if you purchase expensive items on credit, it could disqualify you from the mortgage! To be on the safe side, wait to buy pricey, new home pieces until the end of the mortgage closing process, when you’ve signed on the dotted line. Then go find that new couch!

Step 2: Look for Surprising Savings

When you think of coupons, you may picture grocery shopping. But coupons can be used for a surprisingly wide variety of purchases, including home furnishings.

 
“Coupons can save you money on every aspect of re-decorating, from paint, flooring and tiles to bathroom cabinets and furniture,” says Marco Piu, General Manager Couponbox.com.
You don’t need to browse through the weekly circulars to find the best coupons, either. “Make a list of the items you need to re-do your home and spend an hour searching online. Check all major coupon sites and don’t forget to look for manufacturer coupons as well,” suggests Piu.
 
Other simple ways to save:
 

  • Plan your big purchases around sales—think Black Friday, end of summer blowouts and seasonal clearance sales.
  • Check your local second hand stores. Many of them are filled with high quality furniture and décor that just need to be freshened up.
  • Plan a few garage sale days if you’re buying in the spring, summer or fall, when most yard sales usually happen. You’ll almost always find great items at a steep discount.

Step 3: Start with a Clean Slate

Before you start moving furniture in, clean your new house thoroughly (rather than putting brand new furniture and décor on top of dusty floors and walls). Use this as an opportunity to stock your new cleaning cabinet with all the basics that you’ll need to keep your house clean and tidy going forward.
 
According to Good Housekeeping, some items in a well-stocked cleaning cabinet include:

  • Baking soda, vinegar, rubbing alcohol
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Laundry stain remover
  • Multipurpose cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Furniture polish
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Wet mop
  • Empty spray bottle

Step 4: Make a List of the Small (but Important) Items

It’s easy to remember the big products that you use every day, like furniture, television, computers, etc. But there are several things, especially in the kitchen and bathroom areas, that you don’t want to forget.

For example, every bathroom needs a plunger, shower curtain and liner, rings to hang the curtain, a bathroom floor mat, as well as washcloths and towels. In the kitchen you may have thought about pots and pans but what about can openers, spatulas, measuring cups and spoons?
 
Use this list from The Spruce to make sure whatever you don’t already have is on your shopping list.
 

Step 5: DIY and Mix and Match As Much as Possible

Don’t buy an entire living room set for thousands of dollars when you can put it together yourself, piece by piece—often for a much better price. “Retail stores love to perpetuate the fallacy that everything has to match. They would love for you to buy everything in sets, but don’t do it! A few pieces with the same styling are fine,” says Laura McDonald with HGTV.
 
The best part – when you use this method, you ensure that the space looks and feels like home to you. You’ll also appreciate items like a backyard bench or living room shelving unit a lot more if you made it from scrap wood with your significant other.
 

Step 6: Get Started

Now you can use this six-step checklist to stay on track during the furnishing process. It’s easy to forget the small things or go overboard with an expensive matching set that you don’t need. Instead, stay true to your style and budget, use coupons and discounts whenever possible; soon you’ll feel at home in your first house.

Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years. She’s written for Forbes, Inman, House Hunt Network, Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.
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