The Cost of Furnishing an Apartment

The cost of furnishing a home from scratch might not be what you expect. If you’re planning a big move soon to be closer to work or finally make the leap to live on your own, then you probably have a lot to consider. I’m sure you budgeted the costs of moving to your new place, from the increased cost in rent, utilities, internet to those pesky move-in fees!

Now, it’s time to consider the cost of furnishing your new home. How much do you think it will cost to furnish your entire place from scratch? Don’t worry, we will break it down for you.

You’re probably thinking, sofa, TV, mattress, easy! They shouldn’t cost more than a couple hundred here and there. The truth is, you need more than just these 3 items. An upgraded adult space should have at least a few more decorations or furnishings like an arm chair, a nice coffee table and a dresser.

What’s next? Finding furniture stores with quality stuff, coordinate the move and assemble it all on move-in day.

No matter how much you might 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 get a TV stand that matches your living room décor. Or find out your closet space is actually too small so you end up living out your suitcase until you get a dresser.

EVERYONE has been there! The dreaded move and furnishing is no easy task and one of the biggest mistakes is under budgeting furniture + move-in costs.

Your Budget vs. Cost of Furnishing

To shed some light on the true cost of moving we had a detailed chat with one of our recent customers Lucy. She shared with us her journey around planning for her move and the sticker shock she got after seeing the actual costs of the furniture and her time.

Armed with the knowledge and experience of a previous move, she first sat down to make a realistic, furnish-an-apartment-from-scratch like budget if she were to shop at IKEA. By no means was that her top pick in quality, but she didn’t want to deal with the hassle of research across multiple stores to find her dream furniture sets.

Here was her budget to furnish an apartment from scratch:

Definitely a modest budget right? Plus, she’s done it before… no sweat!

This list might actually be accurate from her college days, but inflation, labour and gas prices have all gone up since. Her budget to furnish her place ended up going over by 55% with just IKEA furniture when she started adding items to her IKEA shopping cart! This well-planned, seasoned veteran was completely shocked to see the total price and why most people go over budget.

So what’s 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! After all, the furniture in your home needs to be practical and stylish. The way you live is dictated by where you place the furniture. If there’s a chair by the window, you’ll sit by the window.

Furnishr’s guide to basic living requires 3-4 pieces of essential furniture only for your living room and 3 pieces for your bedroom.

Living room Essential Furniture and Their Typical Retail Costs

  1. Sofa + Accent chair or a 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 to use different fabrics and textures on the sofa and chair to make the setting more intentional and ‘design-ie’.

    • If you have a small living space, use a sectional sofa. The extended chaise on the sectional will create a cozier setting for a small space. Also, the smaller the space you have, the fewer pieces of furniture you should have. Get a sectional sofa to complete your seating requirement!

  2. Coffee table – $120-260

    • A coffee table provides a necessary surface area to place drinks and snacks in your living space. There are plenty coffee table designs with storage. Use as much multi-functional furniture as possible. And the cost will increase as the piece shows more points in style and in function.

    • There are also lift-top coffee tables that lets you use it as a workstation or desk or a dining table.

    • One thing to keep in mind for these multi-purpose furniture is that most people get lazy in changing the configuration of the furniture. Make sure your multi-purposeful furniture is easy to change into its different purposes.

  3. Floor lamp – $130-290

    • Many apartments don’t come with ceiling lights. Whether you get much sunlight or not through the windows, you will need at least one floor lamp.

Bedroom Essential Furniture and Their Typical Retail Costs

  1. 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 there is, the more costly it is.

    • A bed should be made to last, so it is a key investment piece.

    • A nice headboard will also serve as a statement design item in the bedroom.

  2. Mattress – $300-1200

    • A good mattress is the key to a good-night sleep so it’s definitely a key investment item for the home.

    • There are many different kinds such as memory foam ones and spring ones. The technology of both kinds 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.

    • Make sure mattress is at least 8″ thick to ensure all the foams and padding used are quality thick ones.

  3. Nightstand(s) – $180-300

    • You’ll need at least one piece that gives you surface area to put a table lamp, an alarm clock, a book or your phone.

    • The size of a nightstand will vary and you should pick one that fits with the size of your bedroom.

    • If your bed is not placed against a wall (or window), it’s best to have one nightstand on each side of the bed to create a symmetrical look.

The following items are optional,

  1. TV stand (or sideboard) – $400-650

    • For small spaces, a TV stand is often the only storage piece you will have. Because of this, we suggest you invest into one with ample storage compartments.

    • If space is limited, do without the TV stand. Get a storage coffee table instead and mount the TV onto the wall.

  2. Side table(s) – $100-200 each

    • Small side tables add more surface areas for placing table lamps and decor items.

    • Each side table should be at least 18″ wide or in diameter to fit a lamp and a few small items and a few glasses of drinks properly.

  3. Area Rug – $280-480 depending on size

    • An area rug adds softness to the ground. You’ll appreciate it especially in cold winters.

    • 5×8′ is a standard size. The next size up is 8×10′.

    • For living rooms, the size of the area rug should be proportional to the size of your living area. At the minimum, all the front legs of the sofa should be on the rug. When your coffee table is centred on the rug, there should be at least 18″ of a walkway between the sofa and the coffee table and 18″ between the coffee table and whatever is on the opposite side.

    • For bedrooms, the rug should be placed near the foot of the bed with at least 30% of the rug under the bed, so that you can feel the softness every morning when you get off the bed. And both foot legs are on comfortably sitting on the rug. You also want to see enough of the rug so that you can appreciate the patterns and colours on it.

  4. Dresser – $400-800

    • A dresser should have at least 3 drawers.

    • What size of a dresser to get depends on your space limitation.

    • In some instances of small bedrooms, you should consider using a small chest of drawers to serve as a nightstand. You will save on the cost of a nightstand and space while getting more drawers for storage.

If your budget and/or space is limited,  3-4 pieces of essential furniture for the living room and the 3 pieces for the bedroom is all your need. The 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.

But there’s more…

Don’t Forget the Time & Hassle of Moving

While Lucy was moving to start a new job asap, she also needed to coordinate with her building to book an elevator to do the move-in. Many furniture stores can’t even guarantee that all the furniture comes in at once!

What about the assembly? All of a sudden Lucy had to think about coordinating the move of the furniture to her place and assemble it all.

When the assembly is done, what about the boxes? Lucy would have to cut up the boxes or fold them down in order to fit them all into her building’s recycling bins.

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, the delivery costs will range from $150 to $300 per item per store.

Also, most delivery services will likely deliver each item on different days and don’t include assembly. You can hire handymen (or hire more friends) to assemble the furniture at $30-50/hour. How much is your time worth? Will you need to take vacation days to stay at home to wait for deliveries?

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