Planning a big move? The cost of furnishing a home from scratch might not be what you expect. Whether you’re relocating for work or finally making the leap to live on your own, you have a lot to consider. Your moving budget has got to cover all those pesky move-in fees: the increased costs of rent, utilities, and internet.
And what about furnishing? If you have furniture but can’t decide which furniture to bring with you, read our post Three Ways to Decide Which Furniture to Bring When You Relocate. If need to buy everything from scratch, need some help what furniture to buy, then read on!
This post takes you step-by-step through the entire process of how to furnish an apartment from scratch. We even use a real case study from to illustrates the common benefits and pitfalls of furnishing an apartment.
So get out your pen and paper! We’re about to break down the cost of furnishing an apartment from scratch.
But first, some real talk.
You’re probably thinking, sofa, TV, mattress — easy! Shouldn’t cost more than a couple hundred here and there. The truth is that you need more than just these three items to live an adult life. How your home is set up has a huge influence on your lifestyle and social life. A truly upgraded and adult space should have a few more furnishings, such as an armchair, a coffee table, a dresser, sturdy and stylish dining set for entertaining to feel like a home. But we’ll cover essential and bonus furnishings in a bit.
Let’s think through the entire moving process. Not only do you need to buy furniture from stores with quality stuff, you will also need to coordinate the move and assemble it all.
Ultimately, no matter how much you plan for it furnishing is no easy task!
The last thing you want is your TV sitting on the floor for 2 weeks because you forgot to buy a TV stand that matches your living room décor. Or to discover that your closet space is actually too small so you end up living out your suitcase until you get a dresser.
EVERYONE has been there! This guide will show you how to prevent a worst case scenario by avoiding the biggest moving mistake of all, which is under budgeting your furniture + move-in costs.
Your Budget vs. Cost of Furnishing
To shed some light on the true cost of furnishing, we invited one of our recent customers, Lucy, to share her journey with us. We had a detailed chat about her experience through the “Three Stages of Moving”: confidence, anxiety, and finally, relief! (Spoiler alert: Lucy ended up super happy with her space, which was actually furnished in a single day.)
At the beginning of her planning process, Lucy felt armed with her knowledge and experience from previous moves. She sat down and made a realistic, “furnish from scratch” budget based on shopping only at IKEA. Sure, the store wasn’t Lucy’s top pick in terms of quality, but she wanted to avoid the stress of searching at multiple stores for coordinating furniture.
Here, you can see Lucy’s first budget. At this stage, she intends to furnish her apartment from scratch for $1,985.
Definitely a modest budget right? Plus, she’s moved before… no sweat!
Unfortunately, this budget needs some changes. Take a breath and bear with us. The costs of furniture on her list may have been accurate during Lucy’s college days, but inflation, labour and gas prices have all increased since then. Even Lucy was surprised once she began to shop online. She started adding items to her virtual shopping cart, her total estimated cost came in over budget by 55% — just with IKEA furniture!
Even if you’re a thoughtful planner like Lucy, you might be shocked by the total price of furnishing an apartment. It’s also worth asking yourself which kind of furniture you want.
Okay, so what is a reasonable budget for furnishing a studio or one-bedroom apartment?
First, let’s find some quality stuff. You need to graduate from your IKEA days! There, we said it. After all, the furniture in your new home should be stylish and high-quality, especially if you’re making a big move or starting a new job. The way you live is dictated by where you place the furniture. That’s the beauty and power of interior design. If you place a chair by the window, you’ll sit by the window and enjoy the view.
Plan your furnishing budget around high-quality basics first
So let’s start with Furnishr’s guide to basic living. We recommend 3 – 4 pieces of essential furniture for your living room, plus 3 essential pieces for your bedroom.
Here’s the breakdown of bare basic items for living room & bedroom.
LIVING ROOM Essential Furniture and Their Typical Retail Costs
- Sofa + Accent Chair, or Sectional Sofa: $1800-2600
- If you have a wide enough living space, use a 3-seater sofa and an accent chair to create a conversational seating arrangement. People generally don’t like to sit next to each other in a sofa even if it’s a wide one. Adding an accent chair opposite to the sofa will create a conversational environment. Try mixing different fabrics/textures to make the setting that is more intentional and ‘designer’.
- Otherwise, if you have a small living space, use a sectional sofa. Remember, the smaller the space you have, the fewer pieces of furniture you should have!
- Coffee Table: $120-260
- A coffee table provides a necessary surface area to place drinks and snacks. Many coffee table designs have additional storage. Try to use as much multi-functional furniture as possible! Note that cost will increase as the piece shows more style and function.
- If you’re excited about multi-purpose furniture, look for lift-top coffee tables that become workstations or dining tables.
- One thing to keep in mind for multi-purpose furniture is that most people get lazy in changing the configuration of the furniture. Make sure your multi-purpose furniture is easy to change into its different purposes.
- Floor Lamp: $130-290
- This is a big one! Many apartments don’t come with ceiling lights. So whether you get much sunlight or not through the windows, you will need at least one floor lamp.
- TIP: Note the locations of all your outlets to help you plan your lighting scheme.
BEDROOM Essential Furniture and Their Typical Retail Costs
- Bed: $400-800
- A proper bed is essential. There are many options with storage drawers or lift-up under-bed storage. The more storage function, the more costly it is.
- A bed should be made to last, so consider it a key investment piece.
- A nice headboard can also serve as a statement design item in the bedroom.
- Mattress: $300-1200
- A good mattress is the key to a good night’s sleep, so definitely don’t skimp. There are many different kinds, like memory foam and spring mattresses. Mattress technology has advanced so much over the past decade that it’s actually difficult to find an uncomfortable mattress unless you’re an extremely picky sleeper.
- Choose a mattress (and bed) size that fits properly in your bedroom. You want plenty of room to sprawl out in bed, naturally, but remember that you also need enough space to move around the room comfortably. Nothing creates dead energy in a bedroom quicker than a poorly sized bed.
- TIP: Make sure your mattress is at least 8″ thick to ensure all the foams and padding are thick and high-quality.
- Nightstand(s): $180-300
- You need at least one surface area next to the bed for a table lamp, an alarm clock, your phone or a book.
- Nightstand sizes vary. Pick one that fits with the size of your bedroom, and also that will fit everything you typically keep beside your bed.
- If your bed is not against a wall (or window), it’s best to have two nightstands (one for each side of the bed) to create a symmetrical look.
Moving can be stressful — but stress means that you’re discovering new information that can actually help you out in the long run. So congrats! If you’re stressing, you’re well on your way to furnishing an amazing apartment.
Alright, now you know how to budget for the essentials when furnishing an apartment from scratch. Once you cover the basic pieces, like bed frame and coffee table, you’re free to add more style and more function to your space. So let’s level up. You may as well plan for your best life if you’re planning a move anyway!
Next, we’ll cover the items that can transform a house into a home. These items are optional, but they definitely level up your space in terms of usability and aesthetic appeal.
For these items, the interior design “rules” become a bit trickier — for instance, how on earth do you choose the correct size for an area rug?
After all, you want to avoid a mismatched set of furniture in your home. Here are a few beautiful rooms that can be achieved with high or low budgets:
- A snow-white living room from $2400 to $9100
- An elegant contemporary bedroom from $3800 to $10,000
- A simple eclectic dining / breakfast area from $1400 to $10,700
Still overwhelmed? No worries! Here’s what the Furnishr interior design team recommends for optional furnishings and their costs.
BONUS Furniture and Their Typical Retail Costs
- TV Stand (or Sideboard): $400-650
- For small spaces, a TV stand can be the only storage piece you have. Because of this, consider investing in one with ample storage compartments.
- But if space is really limited, do without the TV stand. Get a storage coffee table instead and mount the TV onto the wall.
- Side Table(s): $100-200 each
- Give yourself more places to put lamps, glasses, and decor items!
- Each side table should be at least 18″ wide to hold everything safely. You need room for a lamp, a few small knick knacks, and several drinking glasses.
- Area Rug: $280-480 (depending on size)
- An area rug adds softness and visual appeal. You’ll appreciate it especially in cold winters.
- 5×8′ is a standard size. The next size up is 8×10′.
- In living rooms, the rug size should be proportional to the size of your living area. Measure your sofa and coffee table. At minimum, both front legs of your sofa should be on the rug. If your coffee table is centred on the rug, have at least 18″ of margin between the coffee table and any surrounding furniture.
- For bedrooms, the rug should be near the foot of the bed with at least 30% of the rug under the bed. Just like in the living room, both legs of the bed should fit comfortably on top of the rug. Bedroom rugs should be gentle, both in texture and color. You want to feel softness on your feet every morning when you get out of bed. You also want to see enough of the rug so you can really appreciate the patterns and colours on it!
- Dresser: $400-800
- A dresser should have at least three drawers.
- Don’t be afraid to match the size of your dresser to your space!
- TIP: In small bedrooms, you could use a small chest of drawers to serve as your nightstand. This saves you the cost of a nightstand and saves space while providing more drawers for storage.
If your budget and/or space are limited, take a step moment to ensure that you’ve covered the 3 – 4 pieces of essential furniture for your living room and bedroom. The breakdown of total costs for all the essential furniture will be:
Living room furniture of $2050-3150 + Bedroom furniture of $880-2300 = $2930 to $5450 in total.
In short, $3000-5500 should be the range of cost of furnishing an apartment with just the essential furniture.
|Living Room Essentials||Bedroom Essentials||Bonus Items|
|Sofa $1800 – 2500||Bed $400 – 800||TV Stand / Sideboard $400 – 650|
|Coffee Table $120 – 260||Mattress $300 – 1200||Side Table(s) $100 – 200 each|
|Floor Lamp $130 – 290||Nightstand(s) $180 – 300||Area Rug $280 – 480|
|Dresser $400 – 800|
|$2,050 to $3,150||$880 to $2,300||$1,180 to $2,130|
Don’t Forget the Time & Hassle of Moving
Remember Lucy? All she wanted to do was prepare for her new job, but she also needed to coordinate with her new building to book the service elevator. Did you know that many furniture stores can’t even guarantee that all your furniture will arrive at once?
And what about the assembly? All of a sudden, Lucy began thinking about having to coordinate the actual transfer of furniture to her place, as well as assembly. And when assembly is done, what about the boxes? Lucy would have to cut up the boxes or fold them down in order to fit them into her building’s recycling bins.
Ultimately, Lucy found a way to furnish her apartment completely from scratch and all in a single day, with no need for her to assemble anything or clean up any mess.
But let’s rewind to you, today. You know what you want your new apartment to look like. Your new job is starting soon, and your official move-in day is rapidly approaching! You’re feeling ready. Well, almost.
Next up, what is your plan for handling furniture? Will you need to rent a truck or rent some friends to help you with the moving, setup and cleaning up? If you’re not picking up the new furniture yourself, your delivery costs could range from $150 to $300 per item per store.
Remember that most delivery services drop off items on different days, and many don’t include assembly. Hiring a handyman to assemble your furniture can cost you $30-50/hour. How much is your time really worth?
Don’t take vacation days to stay at home and wait for furniture deliveries.
We’re trying to help out your future self. If you’re like Lucy, your future self probably wants to start off their new adventure without the stress and anxiety of managing all this annoying moving stuff!
We’ve got you. This is how Lucy managed to solve all her moving & furnishing difficulties with a single, comprehensive solution.
Lucy ended up purchasing a Furnishr package and completely avoided the stress of furnishing her studio apartment alone. She spent a few minutes gathering accurate measurements of her new space, and then took a brief style quiz.
Lucy was paired with Elle, one of Furnishr’s dedicated designers, to collaborate on choosing the perfect items to fit both budget and style preferences.
Her living space is small, but it’s a good rectangular space that can easily be transformed into a living room with separate sleeping area.
- Size: 350 square feet
- Budget: $2900-3200 USD
Just 15 days after placing her order, every single piece was delivered and set up in Lucy’s studio, all in a single day.
Let’s take a look at all the items Lucy got in her Furnishr package for $2999 USD.
“The transformation was miraculous! I can’t believe I furnished the whole apartment for just $3000 without doing any work.” – Lucy
The biggest lesson learned? Lucy realized her time is actually worth more than a bit of savings, especially in the midst of a big life change. Maybe the old saying ‘Time Is Money!’ was coined by someone managing an epic move!
Moving and furnishing an empty apartment is no walk in the park, but Furnishr can make it easier. And here’s why.
Firstly, the retail costs of Lucy’s furniture would have been at least 20% more if she went elsewhere. Secondly, Lucy got the added benefit of working with a trained interior design consultant to create her perfect apartment, wrapped into the cost of finding furniture. There are a lot of surprising hidden perks to working with an interior design consultant.
If you are planning for a move, bookmark this page and get a custom quote for furnishing your own space. Furnishr helps you save time while creating a nicely furnished home with high-quality furnishings.
Our goal is to make your move easy, wherever your next adventure takes you. Do right by your future self, and go check out your options to Get A Custom Room ASAP.
And good luck!