How to furnish your new home for less

fully furnished living room

Danny Baggs

Posted June 27, 2023

Unsure how to furnish your new house on a budget? Here are some practical tips to save you money when buying furnishings.

Moving house can be a stressful and expensive time, especially if you need to furnish your new home. Whether you’re renting or buying, new homes often need different furniture to fit the space – or a whole new set, if you’ve previously lived in a fully pre-furnished home.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to furnish your new house for less. Here’s how to save money and furnish your home on a budget.

Tips on how to furnish new homes on a budget

Reframe how you view second-hand furniture

Buying second-hand furniture is probably the cheapest way to furnish your new home. But ‘second-hand’ is sometimes seen as ‘second-best’. Most pre-loved furniture doesn’t deserve this bad rap.

Plenty of furniture pieces are still sturdy and attractive, and are simply being replaced to something bigger, or due to changing tastes. And purchasing pre-owned furniture doesn’t just save you money: it also reduces the number of unwanted items ending up in landfill and lowers the demand for the resources required to produce new furniture.

Gumtree’s 2022 Trading in the Circular Economy report reveals that 86 per cent of Australians have bought pre-loved items at some stage, with Australian buyers saving 41 per cent buying pre-loved rather than new. The most sold pre-owned furniture items on Gumtree are office furniture (40 per cent), dining tables (38 per cent), home décor (38 per cent), and collectables and antiques (35 per cent).


man and woman looking at fridge

White goods like fridges are best bought from stores. Image: Getty

Make a prioritised list of what you need

Walk around your new home and make a list of everything you think each room needs, from large items like beds and couches to small items like lamps and picture frames.

Next, rank your list by order of priority and assign a rough budget for each piece. Essential household items like a fridge, mattress and washing machine should be first, since you need them to fulfil your basic needs. Conveniences like a couch, TV set and dining table should come next, followed by decorative furnishings like cushions and throws.

Most of your furniture budget should be assigned to your ‘essentials’ list, as you want quality items that will last for years – after all, you’ll feel the difference between extra money spent on a mattress compared to a dining table. The money you’ll save on buying second-hand ‘conveniences’ and ‘decorative’ furniture can also be put towards white goods like a fridge and washing machine so that you can enjoy a longer warranty and better energy star ratings.


yellow armchair at curbside

You can find some great furniture at curbside collections. Image: Getty

Search online marketplaces

Once you know exactly what you’re looking for (and have committed to a budget for each piece), it’s time to jump online and start the search for second-hand furniture. Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and local online Buy/Sell/Swap groups are all great places to trawl through affordable pre-loved pieces. If you’ve seen furniture at branded furniture stores that you love, you can even search for the brand and model on these second-hand sites for the chance to nab your ideal furniture at a great price.

Keep in mind that sales generally happen very quickly on second-hand websites. If you find something you love, make an offer that day. If you can’t transport furniture yourself, check lists to make sure that delivery is an option. While some items are completely free, others come with a price. Haggling is acceptable on these second-hand websites – just keep your offers reasonable.

Visit local op shops, flea markets, curbside collections and garage sales

Don’t forget to visit in-person sites like local op shops, flea markets and garage sales. Try visiting charity shops multiple times over the weeks before your move, as they will constantly be stocked with fresh donations. Curbside collections, or hard rubbish, also often have perfectly good furniture left out on the street that you can take for free.


woman painting a wooden chair

Upcycling furniture can be both cheap and rewarding. Image: Getty

Upcycle furniture that isn’t quite right

Upcycling is giving a pre-loved item a second life by repairing, restyling or modifying it into something ‘new’. For example, you can often sand down and repaint tables, sideboards, end tables and anything else made from solid wood with nothing more than sandpaper, a paintbrush and some paint. Reupholstering soft furnishings like couches and chairs is also fairly easy and a great way to breathe new life into a piece, with upholstery services widely available if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Consider waiting for upcoming sales

If second-hand furniture really isn’t your thing, or if you have your heart set on a particular item, why not wait to buy during seasonal sales cycles? Black Friday, Boxing Day and EOFY (End of Financial Year) sales always abound with steep discounts.

You can also shop for basic furniture items at stores like Kmart, Big W, Target, and even Aldi. The Swedish homewares store IKEA always has a wealth of furniture at a fraction of the price of other stores.


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