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Furnishing Your First Home? Here’s Where To Spend And Where To Save

Make the most of your budget with these tips from interiors experts.
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Away from the home you grew up in, away from student digs, the first place you decide to furnish properly is a chance to say ‘bye’ to battered posters of Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ and ‘hello’ to an expertly curated clutch of cheese plants.

You’re unlikely to be in a position to buy your furnishings from super stylish interiors boutiques, but how are you supposed to decide where you need to invest your cash, wisely, and where to choose budget?

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“To know what is worth spending money on, think of the bones of your home,” says interior designer Joanna Wood. “Items such as sofas, dining tables and wardrobes are where you should focus your budget, with decorative accessories coming second. As your bed is the piece of furniture you’ll use the most, she advises spending on a decent frame and a “sprung base divan and quality firm-edged, pocket sprung mattress - it’ll ensure you sleep well and so is worth the expense.”


Sonia Pash, founder of interior design studio TEMZA, agrees. “We advise to spend more on items which need to last a long time, like your sofa, bed and dining table,” she says.

“Go cheaper, however, with smaller items that can be easily changed if you get bored of them or want to add a new burst of colour. New coffee and side tables, armchairs, mirrors, picture frames and ornaments are fantastic way to update your home.”

Remember that a great statement piece doesn’t need to cost a fortune. “Many of the pieces in the homes I have designed have come from second hand shops, vintage fairs and antiques auctions,” says Laura Ward, head of design at At Home With Hostmaker. “They often have good quality furniture at reasonable prices. Go with an open mind and see what you can unearth.”


Ready to go? Try these expert tips to help you create a home you love

Go green

Indoor plants are a really good way to make a house feel like a home - and the brilliant thing is you can display them like pieces of art but a fraction of the price, says Merie Shaw, founder of sustainable greenery brand “Houseplants can cost anything from a couple of pounds to around £30, not dissimilar to a bunch of cut flowers,” she adds. “However, they are much better value for money.”

Make the most of what you already have

“Think about what you already own – for example, books can transform a space,” says Ward. “Group them together by colour and stack both vertically and horizontally to add interest. Give cushions a new life with fresh cushion covers.”

HM Home

…but remember less is more

“If you are into retro, go for vintage but not too much,” says Sonia Pash. “A couple of leather trunks can be an inexpensive solution for a coffee table, and also can bring that unique atmosphere to your home.”

Be practical

“Go to a showroom to test out larger items of furniture,” says Kate Butler, Head of Design for Habitat. “Buying into a design that looks amazing in a photograph but has poor construction is a false economy as you’ll find comfort and stability reduces rapidly in comparison to better quality materials and build. Also if the furniture you are buying is flat-packed, take time to check they have good, sturdy mechanisms that will allow you to easily rebuild if you’re moving from place to place.”