Buying or renting, one thing remains the same – buying furniture can be an expensive! Especially if you’re doing it for the first time and if you are doing it for the first time chances are that you’ll be doing it on a tight budget.
As with all shopping, there are means and ways to do it all without soul crushing expense and minimal compromise, all it takes is a keen eye, patience and a bit of imagination.
Find it for Free
While you’ll struggle to find new furniture for free, there are plenty of places where you’ll be able to pick up second hand for free.
Sign up for the mailing lists on sites like Freecycle, Recycle.co.uk, SnaffleUp or Freegle, which email you with regular digest of offers in your area, it’s also a good way to shift anything you don’t want to move with. All of these sites advertised second hand items for free although they are mostly pick up so ensure you have appropriate transport to collect. Many of the posters work on a first come, first serve basis, so if you’re on the hunt it’s best to check periodically.
Reach out to family and friends! The Angels have picked up many a decent piece of second hand furniture from a relative. In fact one Angel furnished most of their first house from the off casts of family and even though they were on the other side of the country, it was still cost effective to rent a van for the day and doing a round trip from the North West to Lincolnshire via Nottingham in one long day.
More Second Hand Stash
Loot, Craigslist UK, PreLoved and Gumtree are great places to look for cheap second hand furniture online as well, you may even find some freebies on these sites.
Charity shops like the British Heart Foundation have stores dedicated to selling second hand furniture, so look out locally for one close to you. Another charity, Emmaus is staffed by the homeless who restore and sell on unwanted furniture and have around 17 stores across the country.
Other places to search locally are auction houses, house clearances, bric a brac shops and car boot sales. Local dumps and recycling zones are also worth a shot, but many won’t allow you to take items away, so it’s wise to ask first before you get it in your car.
Always keep your eyes peeled, furniture is actually fairly difficult to dispose of, especially if you don’t have transport, so many people unfortunately resort to just dumping on the street.
Get Creative and Revamp
Second hand furniture is bound to be subject to some wear and tear or even some severe wear over the years, but that doesn’t mean it can’t find its way into your living room looking almost new. With a bit of imagination and a practical hand you could have your own Cath Kidstoninspired piece. A quick sand down and paint or a new coat of varnish can restore life to many wooden items, while thinking creatively with fabric or wall paper to decoupage can make a real feature out of others. Purposely miss-matching creates a kitsch, retro look which is incredibly stylish right now, turn to the web for inspiration which has very strong communities of DIY furniture restorers and designers.
Although it may be a skill that some may lack, re-upholstering old and worn sofas can be a great way of making them look brand new. As long as the structure and the cushions are still in fine order, adding some new fabric to it works great if you’ve pick it up for cheap or free. If you can’t do it yourself, take to the Internet to look for a local seamstress.
Look Out for Discounts on the High Street and Internet With the cash registers ringing less and less on the High Streets, we don’t go long with out being told retailers are having the sale of the century, our own blog regularly posts about deals for the home so make sure you like our Facebook page or set up a RSS feed. A lot of these deals are web exclusive most of the time, so look out for additional voucher codes, use comparison sites like Kelkoo and set up email alerts with Google
Places like Tesco, Asda and even Aldi now stock cheap items for the home in addition to cheap decorating materials, so have a quick gander while you’re picking up the weekly shop.
Many sofa retailers also provide interest free credit for a number of years, so don’t think that the High Street will automatically be the most expensive.
Looking for out of town industry outlets and furniture mills is a way of also picking up new furniture at a fraction of the price
Don’t Forget to Haggle
Second hand or new, don’t be afraid to go in with a lower offer and see what else they’ll chuck in for the price if you’re prepared to buy now, pick up yourself or pay cash. If you’re buying large items new sales people will be prepared to haggle if it secures a sale and increases their commission.
What to Avoid & Best Tips
- Second hand items for children – you can never be sure what has been recalled because of safety issues, so best to avoid altogether.
- Mattresses – even if it looks spotless, they’re best to avoided since they can harbour unseen germs.
- Avoid second hand self assembly, unless it has never been assembled.
- Go with you’re instinct.
- Try to distinguish between something which has wear and tear (i.e. water rings or scratches) and what is damaged, i.e. woodworm or permanent damage.
- If it smells when viewing it, it’ll likely smell in your house.
- Be aware of dimensions of your rooms when viewing.
- Make sure you know how you’re going to get it home.
- Don’t be afraid to refurbish yourself – paint, varnish or re-upholster.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle on the price.