by Kaye Morris
Renting your first apartment, buying your first home, or upgrading to more square footage can be an exciting event, but furnishing the new space can place additional strain on an already stretched budget. Furniture represents one of the biggest cash expenditures in your home, and although quality chairs, couches, and tables can last for many years, completely furnishing a room can cost far more than what you want to spend. Fortunately, with a little patience, time, and ingenuity, you can furnish your home with furniture you'll be happy to use for years to come.
Determine which furniture you need. If you cannot afford to completely furnish the entire room at one time, then start with the most important pieces and add to them as you can afford more. For example, in the master bedroom, the bed is the most important piece of furniture; in the living room, the couch will likely be your first purchase. Once you have purchased your big-ticket items, you can then start looking at future purchases for the next important items, such as dressers, nightstands, or end tables.
Look for clearance sales. Retailers often offer last season's models at deep discounts, so you can still get stylish and up-to-date furniture for a great deal. Find matched sets of furniture on clearance to receive a bigger discount on the whole. If a furniture set is last year's design, many times the entire set will be priced lower than a single piece of brand-new furniture. This goes for both single pieces and matched furniture sets.
Purchase furniture with multiple functions. A simple stool can be used as seating and also as a handy end table. A fashionable daybed can be used as a bed and then effortlessly transformed into a couch. These useful and practical pieces fulfill all your needs, and, as a bonus, you get two pieces of furniture at the cost of one.
Look for contemporary pieces. Don't abandon style just because you're shopping on a budget. To keep your home from looking like you purchased everything at a jumble sale, shop for furniture that shares a similar aesthetic. Contemporary furniture is often less expensive because it has less embellishment than more traditional furniture.
Add something extra. Give furniture a "wow" factor by adding the finishing touches yourself. Choose a plain wood nightstand and add colorful mosaic tiles to the top. Pick a heavily discounted couch and cover it with a slipcover or pile on some stylish throw pillows to give it an extra dash of style.