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Furnish your home for less

lovemoney staff
by Lovemoney Staff lovemoney staff on 02 November 2012  |  Comments 13 comments

Here's how you can furnish your home from top to bottom without breaking your budget.

Furnish your home for less

Moving house is stressful at the best of times. It can prove extra stressful - and expensive - when you arrive at the new place and find out it's completely unfurnished.

Instead of embarking on a spending spree and pushing yourself into debt, there are many ways to get a new place kitted out without going bankrupt.

The basics

Most flats or houses you move into, especially if they're rented, will have the essential items such as carpets and curtains and also white goods such as a fridge, freezer and washing machine.

In this piece we're going to look at how you can stock up on everything else, such as bedding, kitchen tools and bedroom furniture, for a small budget.

Where to look

Freegle and Freecycle are online recycling networks where you can find just about anything.

These communities can now be found all over the UK, and across the globe. They encourage the re-use of goods by giving them away for free, rather than chucking them out. When you join your local group, you are able to view hundreds of adverts posted by people who want to get rid of unwanted items.

These include furniture, gardening equipment, electrical appliances, baby goods, bicycles and practically anything else you can think of.

The selection of goods on offer can be a little random, but if you're looking for something specific you can post an advert listing it and once it becomes available you'll be emailed.

Gumtree is also worth a look, but as with the other websites, you may have to pay for transport to pick the stuff up if you don't have your own and this is going to push up costs.

Industrial outlets

There are furniture outlet shops across the country and they're stocked full of items at a much lower price than you'd find on the high street. 

The reason these are cheaper is because most of the stock is either ex-display, returned goods or cancelled orders. Trade Secrets for example in Oxford or Home Brands in Cambridgeshire offer discounts of up to 60% the standard retail price. 

Before you set off make sure you can visit an outlet as sometimes there is no public access to the factory itself. And if you're ordering online check for delivery costs as these can be high.

Second-hand shops

Many people seem to want to furnish their homes in a modern style, but if you're happy with the older, solid wood approach you can pick up some lovely pieces very cheaply. There are antique shops across the country and the further out of the main cities you get, the cheaper prices are. Obviously you also need to factor in transport costs.

Charity shops are also worth a look as these are also great for cheap household goods and furniture.  

High street bargains

If you don't mind hitting the less fashionable end of town, you can save lots of cash by rooting around in some old high street favourites such as Argos and Homebase.

The supermarkets are also a good shout for cheap furniture if you want something new instead of secondhand.

Prices vary a lot so again, shopping around and comparing retailers will save you money. Tools such as Price Runner are handy in this instance as they compare a wide range of retailers to show you the cheapest.

Here we've compared five household items at Argos, Homebase, Tesco and Woolworths. To give you an idea of the saving, there's also prices from John Lewis for comparison.


John Lewis























16-piece cutlery set












Do it yourself

Instead of paying for someone else to paint your home or fit the carpets, why not try yourself and save some money at the same time. The internet is full of videos showing you how to do simple household takes, from changing a light bulb to rewiring a plug, and there's also classes across the country allowing you to learn how to do larger jobs.

Obviously, don't tackle anything you know you're not going to be able to achieve, and if you do call in a builder make sure you get a few quotes before agreeing to anything.

This is a classic article which has been updated

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Comments (13)

  • madonmozart
    Love rating 0
    madonmozart said

    I'm glad you are recommending Freecycle (or Freegle as some groups are known now). As a regular giver on Freecycle can I give a few tips on the best ways to make sure that your request to be given a particular item will succeed.

    1) Reply promptly - unfortunately many givers adopt a 'first come, first served policy'

    2) Write a pleasant, literate response which shows that you have read the post. So if it says that the item can only be collected at a certain time or asks for a phone number from you. then say so in your response - and say 'please', it really helps!

    3) Don't respond saying 'have you still got xxxx' or ' I will take it off your hands' or 'r u at home tonite'

    3) It helps if you say why you want something - especially if the giver is choosing between two requesters

    4) Keep in touch until you have collected the item. And of course it goes without saying that you should turn up when you say you will.

    5) Write a short note of thanks when you get home. Many givers have long memories... and next time you might not be offered the item you want.

    6) Give things yourself, no matter how small. If I have to choose between two requesters I always look at their history of giving. I know that many people don't have much to give, but it doesn't matter what it is, it's the principle.

    Report on 14 November 2009  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • JRAY100
    Love rating 66
    JRAY100 said

    At the local dump one is often able to purchase items at modest cost.

    People abandon items at bottle banks - for example my half-size fridge - the Polish 'donator' advised me "take it - it is good - we move flat".

    Items are often almost given away near the end of car boot sales. Some are simply abandoned. The office table that we have used for 30 years was purchased for £5 after it had been used for a car boot sale.

    Parents and neighbours will offer you hand-me-downs - it saves their having to dispose of the items themselves.

    I would have managed the furnishing for a couple of hundred pounds!


    Report on 06 May 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Oxygenate
    Love rating 7
    Oxygenate said

    Miss Cowdy - how did you spend so much? The mattress I can understand but I managed to furnish my first home before Freegle/freecycle and consumer waste disposal dumps for less - really scour the local ads in papers & shops, advertise yourself under 'wanted' and on freecycle/freegle, write to relatives (they may deliver if you are without car), drop leaflets around in shops - in the end I had so much stuff I went to the tip myself! Curtains? I taped up newspaper. Take what you are offered and in time you will be offered something better. In older age I can't give stuff away - the only benefit as I can see of tempus fugit. Good luck in your new home...........!:)

    Report on 09 May 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    Using secondhand furniture is a bit like the way Lovemoney recycles articles these days. A bit of embellishment and tidying and it's amazing what you can get away with, perhaps add a little label to everything which says 'This is a classic piece of furniture which has been updated'....

    Report on 03 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • mrs weatherley
    Love rating 32
    mrs weatherley said

    you can get better stuff vintage and up cycle than you can buy from most shops new use your imagination and it will be personalised and last a lifetime wood none of that MDF rubbish

    Report on 09 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • elcadobes
    Love rating 10
    elcadobes said

    I furnished my house for virtually nothing before the days of the internet and still have a lot of the furniture. I think the only important thing to get is a comfortable mattress. E-bay also has some really good deals on furniture and household goods.

    Report on 09 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • muira
    Love rating 30
    muira said

    freecycle and the like are an excellent way of stopping still serviceable stuff going to land fill,and helping cash strapped people..

    unfortunately most of it now falls into the hands of dealers,,

    who have the posts sent to their mobiles,as soon as they are put online,and can reply at once

    they are probably already on the road collecting , and can be magically there in a matter of minutes,,their needs are so desperate

    with a uncannily suitably sized if not iffy looking vehicle,,and a tale so tall it would make a politician blush

    the black market has never had it so good..

    Report on 09 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Pechis
    Love rating 5
    Pechis said

    One line on charity shops, they deserve much more!

    Shops like TREE in Essex, run as furniture projects by charities and social enterprises do the community a huge service as well as providing quality goods at bargain prices.

    All these bits of furniture or appliances would end up in landfill or being dumped without the free collection service that they offer. The shops and distribution outlets offer worthwhile employment for people who in some cases would find it hard to get a job elsewhere. They provide a source of income for their good cause that means they do not have to go begging and the goods they supply are brilliant value.

    Report on 09 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • muira
    Love rating 30
    muira said

    a true charity shop should be exempt from rates,be staffed by paid volunteers,sell at rock bottom prices

    to people who are on the poverty line,genuinely in need,fallen on hard times,out of work

    on low pay,long hours, retired etc..(the list appears to grow)

    not run by large supposedly charity companies,paying managers huge salaries and bonuses,to obtain a market value price,, and the staff nothing,

    the council & departments various fees, that would cripple another high street business..out of business..(the list appears to grow)

    this could then re-populate the vacant shops,give employment and take a bit of strain off the benefits system .

    cut back on the landfill problem, and to those who need it..furnish your home for hopefully even less..

    Report on 09 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • oldhenry
    Love rating 343
    oldhenry said

    I am pleased to read the post by muira. I shall be very careful when letting mystuff go on Freecycle. I always wait to see how responses I get before letting stuff go.

    the last thing I want to do is feed a profit to a low life that is not paying any tax or infrastructure costs on his business.

    How do you avoid? Well get a selection of responses , find the addresses and look them up on google to see if the 'tale' they tell makes sense.

    Report on 09 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • jonnie2thumbs
    Love rating 107
    jonnie2thumbs said

    I'm still struggling with the concept of arriving at your new home and being stressed out when you 'discover' it is unfurnished. Maybe it's just me, but I like to sort that stuff out before moving out from the last place.

    Report on 09 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  2 loves
  • somean49
    Love rating 6
    somean49 said

    All the recycling and re-use is well and good. Just be aware that some furniture does harbour vermin, usually bugs of some sort, that you really wouldn't want to introduce into your home. My Mum was given a Moses basket for me by a relative. As soon as my little body warmed it up insects started to crawl out of it. In those days of open fires it was easy to cure that problem quickly.

    Report on 10 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Ivor230240
    Love rating 3
    Ivor230240 said

    Woolworths? What about a store that exists in most towns, Wilkinsons?

    Report on 14 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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