Checklist to Furnish Your Dream Home on a Budget

Luxury modern lounge in new build house
••• Construction Photography/Avalon / Getty Images

Finding the best home for your family to buy can be a stressful process on its own, but add in having to deal with the mortgage company and all the maintenance that needs to be done, and it can quickly become downright overwhelming. By the time the whole process of looking for a house and buying it is done, you are exhausted. It’s not time to rest yet, though. Now it’s time to decide how you want to furnish your new home.

When it comes to furnishing a home, the Internet tells us the same old stuff: don’t spend too much, look at used furniture, and patience. Always be patient. Okay, all of that is great advice, but what are some actionable steps we can take when we want to start making our new house feel like a home? Here is the checklist we all wish we had when we first furnished our homes:

Plan Out Your Vision

When you move in or when you visit the house before closing, take a pad of paper and a pen. Sit in every room of your house or condo for about 10 minutes and start listing out everything you think the room needs including large items (beds, chairs, couches) and smaller items (garbage cans, picture frames, lamps, etc.) Even sitting in the foyers and hallways to determine what you need to fill the empty space.


Now that you have planned out your dream home, it’s time to prioritize. Trying to fill every room at once can be an overwhelming task, but the good news is, it’s unnecessary. Look at your list of rooms and rank them in order of where you believe you will be spending the most time. For example, you’ll most likely list your bedroom before the laundry room so you’ll want to fill this room first and make it feel comfortable and cozy before you tackle anything else.


Here is the heart of your plan. It’s time to determine what your actual budget is for furniture. Lots of websites and other sources say that we should plan to spend between 10-50% of the price paid for the house on furniture.

That’s a wide margin so here’s another suggestion. Keep your checking and savings account in mind while determining what your new monthly expenses will be in the house, including mortgage payment, insurance, taxes, utilities, food, and discretionary spending. Once you have figured out your spending, multiply it by three.

For example, if your spending number were $4,000 a month, your three-month savings number would be $12,000. Whatever you have above this amount is what you should spend on furniture during the first round. And then whenever your savings gets above that three-month mark again, then allow yourself to buy that next round of furniture for the next room.

Fill the Room

Remember that priority list from earlier? Now that you have your budget and you know which rooms need to be furnished first you can start buying the items you wrote down in step 1, for those high priority rooms. When your budget runs out, save up and then go back to the list and continue to fill out your rooms based on your priority list.

Quality Over Quantity

Finally, don’t let your desire just to fill the room take over the aspiration to have quality furniture that will last you long after you need it to. Remember that the point of prioritizing the rooms was first to fill the rooms you will be spending the most time in.

For those rooms, especially, you want to have some good quality stuff that can follow you from house to house. Try to pinch pennies on the end tables and spend more on your mattress or bed frame, which will likely follow you to the next house, whether it is for a guest room or your next master.

There’s not an exact science to this method of filling your new house with furniture. But having a clear process may help bring you some peace of mind during this chaotic time of your life. Keep in mind that it’s not worth sacrificing the home you’ve been dreaming of just to get the whole house filled right away, this will leave you constantly feeling unsettled.

Take a targeted approach, and the home will feel finished before you know it. The house doesn’t have to be perfect in one week or even one month. It likely won’t ever be perfect, but it will be yours.

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