Help me furnish my new pad
June 19, 2016 5:19 AM   Subscribe

I recently got the keys to my new house (finalllyyyy, yayyyyyy) so now it’s time to buy the furniture and and other household things -drapes, towels, bathroom sets, sheets, flatware, cutlery, pot sets generally everything that i need to get to start out- I don’t know where to start.

I don’t live in the US however I order from there. Where can I find cheap quality furniture that will fit my minimalist/modern/vintage (if that’s even a thing) style. Looking for neat furniture to fit small spaces so things along the lines of sectionals, 5 pc. Dining room sets, trundle beds, and so on. If I can get them all from one place that would be super because customs is rapish. I’ve already checked the popular places like home depot, overstock, wayfair and amazon, great stuff but the prices are a bit high for my single income budget. Can you provide websites for places that I can get a bang for my buck, however small, if it’s relevant my the exchange rate is almost three to one US so I am really looking for a bargain. Thanks.
posted by Whatifyoufly to Shopping (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Is IKEA an option? Because that's where a lot of folks in the US go in your circumstance.
posted by cabingirl at 5:35 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

IKEA has everything you need, and their prices are generally quite good. One bonus is that they may have a store in your country, allowing you to skip customs.
posted by slmorri at 5:35 AM on June 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

You'll only get the most generic advice with your strangely mysterious location details but if the cheapest American options for buying new - which are what you listed - are too expensive then I guess you are going to have to go with used via something like craigslist or ebay.

I did this in Chicago using craigslist and my only piece of further advice is that if you are carless borrow a skateboard for helping you transport heavy things for a few blocks.

Be patient and wait for things you actually like. Also beware of bedbugs and don't buy a tufted couch that has buttons because the buttons will get yanked off by your pants pockets.
posted by srboisvert at 5:36 AM on June 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

No suggestions on where to find stuff, but consider this: you do not need to fully-furnish your house this week. Take your time, find stuff you truly like rather than stuff that you simply settle for.

Start out by buying the essentials like drapes, towels, sheets, kitchen basics; a bed, sure, but go gradually on filling up the whole house. It'll be less of a major hit to your budget to spread out the expense, and it'll give you time to look around and compare styles, see what really fits your life and what looks good at first but would be a big mistake.
posted by easily confused at 5:56 AM on June 19, 2016 [10 favorites]

Location and interest in US items would help with answers.

Ikea is great but shipping will likely make it more expensive than the stores you listed, even in the U.S. I'd say eBay but I am again not sure what the shipping would be.

Can you buy local from garage sales or your Craigslist and estate sales? I would not pay for over seas shipping to get any low quality items. These need to be replaced often, and for the cost of shipping overseas, I could get better quality items for cheaper locally. But this is based on my U.S. perspective.
posted by Kalmya at 6:00 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

If the places you mentioned are a bit high for your budget, you would probably be better served using your local secondhand options. Find a thrift store in or near an affluent area and you can probably pick up most household goods there. Maybe not everything right away, but as said upthread, you may want to take some time to see what your spaces really need. I'm also a big fan of estate sales over garage sales- generally they have much more furniture and household goods in one spot, rather than the random offerings at garage sales. As a bonus, your furnishings will be of better quality and more interesting than the mass market stuff.
posted by sarajane at 6:41 AM on June 19, 2016 [6 favorites]

The answer to this question almost anywhere in the world -- including the US -- is IKEA.
posted by Sara C. at 7:07 AM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Start with Gumtree / Craigslist / whatever local small ads dominates in your area & spend a fraction of the cost of fully furnishing your house with new furniture. Then over time you can replace anything you don’t like with stuff you do like.

Bonus: practically eliminate buyers remorse for wasting money on something you don’t like! It was cheap to start with: don’t like it? Back on Gumtree it goes!

If you’re prepared to accept the odd ding & a bit of wear and tear you’ll be able to get much higher quality furniture at a fraction of the cost of buying new.
posted by pharm at 7:09 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Where you start: window coverings, a bed, a table and chairs, and dishes/flatware/something to boil water in. After that, you can take your time on everything. You just moved in! You're not going anywhere! You can take your time and save up if you have to when you start picking out rugs and pictures and such.

Don't buy soft items used unless they're fully machine washable on a hot setting. Ceramics, metal, wood are usually safe to buy secondhand. IKEA and local department stores (if you were in the US, I would say check out Macy's for mattresses and bed sets. If you catch a sale it's a good deal) are your best bet for new.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:23 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

For small-scale furniture in particular, if IKEA isn't an option, second-hand stores and estate sales are going to be your best bet. Mainstream furniture retailers sell BIG pieces intended for BIG modern houses; houses and furniture were a lot smaller in the 50s. And the prices will be more comfortably in your price range.

I do really well at a furniture-specific secondhand store. It's more expensive than garage sales or estate sales, but considerably less so than buying new, and they do all the work of finding nice stuff in good shape. There's lots of actual vintage midcentury modern stuff floating around out there. Not, like, designer pieces per se but department store knock-offs that suited the aesthetic and were sturdy enough to survive 60 years in service.

allmodern is wayfair's modern furniture sister store, but if wayfair is too expensive to import I can't imagine allmodern will be better.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:07 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

When I was in your situation — 20 years ago! — I bought a lot from thrift stores and other local stores, and supplemented with IKEA. Almost all the IKEA stuff is long gone, but I still keep some of the second-hand things because they are value for money and special, too.
Beds and mattresses I bought locally because they would carry it here and assemble it with no extra expenses. Though I bought an antique (but cheap) daybed, which has become the stuff of legends and I'm looking for a new mattress for it.
I bought the cheapest shelves I could find locally and painted them — I still use some of them.
IKEA had a system with wires and tiny electricians' clamps which I used for hanging up lengths of material in place of drapes, which need quite a lot of crafting. I don't know if this still exists. I still use mine. IKEA has great mosquito nets at very fair prices. I guess there are millions of mosquitos in Sweden.
Like people above are saying — take your time. I started with nothing, and now I really need to purge. Don't start out with a too full house because you will certainly acquire enough stuff, if not too much, during your life time.
posted by mumimor at 8:24 AM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh, and: originally, I had just a wok and a large pot for boiling and steaming stuff. I could have managed on that for ages, and I strongly suggest you begin with that (or a wok and a rice-cooker), and then only buy additional stuff when you really need it. I love cook-ware and I have tons, but I can still cook for all my extended family with the wok (which is now perfectly seasoned), and that original pot with a steamer on top of it.
posted by mumimor at 8:29 AM on June 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yep, look at second-hand first - flea markets, charity stores, garage sales, estate sales, classifieds websites like Craigslist or Gumtree or whatever works best for you; supplement with Ikea and the like if you absolutely cannot find what you need (cutlery might be hard, for example). Most of the things I own are second-hand, but I like them, they fit my house, and they cost me less than it would've to buy something of worse quality new.

And yes, take your time. A lot of things you think you need right now, you may end up not actually using and then they'll just be clutter. Once you've bought the bare necessities, keep a notebook. Whenever you think "man, I wish I had a X" in the course of daily life, write it down on the notebook, along with the date. If you find yourself thinking that again, add a checkmark. Four or five checkmarks, especially in the course of a short period of time, then you go and buy the thing.
posted by sailoreagle at 9:09 AM on June 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

A high-quality broom feels nice to use and make sweeping easier. Wooden spoons are good, but the newer bamboo spoons and paddles are even better. Prevent cross-contamination by using different cutting boards for vegetables and meat - I like wood for vegetables, plastic for meat. Coffee mugs will appear magically, so you needn't buy too many. Get cheap flatware for now, but buy higher-quality forks and spoons when you find a pattern you like. Choose a teakettle with an insulated handle. Get one good large non-stick fry pan.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 8:13 PM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've bought from and had good experiences.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:43 PM on June 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Others have already said it: Go gradual.

I bought my house 13 years ago. I'm on my third mattress on my second bed. The first one was a wood futon frame that I'd bought in 1986 or 1987 and repaired multiple times. Then after eight years in the house, I had finally finished remodeling the master bedroom, and caught up on all the "have to do" things in my new (old) house, and had a bed custom-built (because I knew a guy, and couldn't find one pre-built that I liked). Then after a couple more years, I finally sprung for a memory-foam mattress for it and threw out the futon I'd bought for the futon-frame a couple years into owning the house.

I replaced the love-seat that was the first piece of "grown-up" furniture I bought in 1996 just last fall. With a second-hand couch. The big living-room remodel (it's one of the last two rooms untouched from the previous owners - the other is the kitchen) will happen in a year or two. I hope to complete the kitchen before my twenty-year anniversary in the house.

I finally found drapes I like for the master bedroom this summer. The window-frames needed repainting anyhow, since I hadn't done a great job on the prep when I painted a dozen years ago. In between, I used stick-on shades that were cheap on Amazon. They didn't look great, but they let me control the light and didn't clash with anything.

Buy stuff that appeals to you that you can afford. Know that you'll replace some of it over time. Your tastes will change, too. At a minimum, you'll develop a better idea of what your style is, which combined with the gradual filling of your space, will make it easier to know when something is a "gotta have" vs. "meh, maybe not just yet."
posted by DaveP at 4:20 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

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