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.
Key Topics About The Cost Of Furnishing An Apartment
Where to start? The REAL cost of furnishing an apartment.
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.
Okay, now 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 of 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
The cost of furnishing the entire apartment or house varies a lot based on room sizes and your personal style. Nevertheless, everyone can get a nice home in a reasonable budget. We have built a budget calculator for furnishing a home based on room sizes. Try it out and see what type of a design you can get within these budget ranges.
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 was super happy with her new place, 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 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. Do you think her budget is realistic?
Here, you can see our case study client Lucy’s first draft of a moving budget. At this stage, she hopes to furnish her apartment from scratch for a total cost of $1,985.
Definitely a modest budget. Plus, she’s moved before… no sweat! Right??
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.
When she started adding items to her virtual shopping cart, her total estimated cost came in OVER BUDGET by 55% — and that was 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. But if you want to do it right, you need to ask yourself which kind of furniture you want. High-quality, stylish furniture that will last is a smart investment.
Okay, so what IS a reasonable budget for furnishing a studio or one-bedroom apartment?
First, let’s find high-quality furniture. You need to graduate from your IKEA days! 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. If you use broken hand me downs, you’ll never feel like an adult.
PRO TIP: Plan your furnishing budget around high-quality basics.
We’re going to review the 3 – 4 pieces of essential furniture for your living room, plus 3 essential pieces for your bedroom. Then we’ll show you the cost breakdown of bare basic items for furnishing both a living room & bedroom.
Let’s get started with cost specifics!
Cost Breakdown Of Furnishing Your New Living Room
Average Retail Cost to Furnish a Basic Living Room?
$2,050 – 3,150
Here’s a breakdown of essential living room furniture (sofa + coffee table + floor lamp) and their typical retail costs. Remember, this is brand new furniture directly from the retailer.
ITEM ONE. Sofa + Accent Chair, or Sectional Sofa: $1800-2600
- Your layout determines which item you need.
- If you have a wide living space, use a 3-seater sofa and an accent chair to create a conversational seating arrangement. Generally, people don’t like to sit next to each other in a sofa even if it’s a wide one. Therefore, adding an accent chair opposite to the sofa will create a conversational environment. Try mixing different fabrics/textures to make the setting 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!
ITEM TWO. Coffee Table: $120-260
- How do I choose a coffee table?
- 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!
- Keep in mind 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.
- Another thing to keep in mind for multi-purpose furniture is that most people get lazy in changing the configuration of the furniture, so make sure your multi-purpose furniture is easy to change into its different purposes.
ITEM THREE. Floor Lamp: $130-290
- This is a big one!
- 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. Trust us on this one!
- PRO TIP: Note the locations of all your outlets to help you plan your lighting scheme.
Your total cost to furnish a living room will be between $2,050 – 3,150 if you use traditional retailers. Sticker shock? Here’s a secret…
Full retail cost is actually more expensive! You can save loads of money by cutting out the middle man, and going directly to a furnishing company.
Want to see an example of what we mean? Check out the table below.
Here’s a price comparison of how much cheaper your living room could be (on the left) if you buy from a direct furnishing company like Furnishr versus more expensive retailers like WestElm or Crate & Barrel (on the right side). These are the average prices for products with decent quality.
Cost Breakdown of Furnishing a Basic Bedroom
Average Retail Cost to Furnish a Basic Bedroom?
$880 – 2,300
You’ve planned your living room, so now you need bedroom furniture! Here’s a breakdown of essential bedroom furniture (bed frame + mattress + nightstand) and their typical retail costs. Remember, this is the cost of brand new furniture directly from the retailer.
Essential Bedroom Furniture and Typical Retail Costs
ITEM ONE. Bed Frame: $400-800
- Obviously this is an unavoidable cost! There are many options for bed frames, like storage drawers or lift-up under-bed storage. Again, the more storage, the more you’ll pay.
- A bed should be made to last, so consider it a key investment piece. Don’t skimp!
- A nice headboard can also serve as a statement design item in the bedroom, so it’s important that you love the headboard!
ITEM TWO. Mattress: $300-1200
- A good mattress is the key to a good night’s sleep, so definitely don’t skimp here either.
- There are many different kinds, like memory foam and spring mattresses. But don’t worry, 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.
- Make sure your mattress is at least 8″ thick to ensure all the foams and padding are thick and high-quality.
ITEM THREE. Nightstand(s): $180-300 each
- You need at least one surface area next to the bed for a table lamp, an alarm clock, your phone or a book.
- PRO TIP: Check for outlets! Place the nightstand closer to the side with an outlet for charging all your electronics.
- 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), use two nightstands (one for each side of the bed) to create a symmetrical look.
Now let’s do a price comparison. How does the cost of bedroom furniture change if you buy it from Furnishr versus a retailer?
Cost of Furnishing – Bedroom Furniture Price Comparison
(P.S. When choosing your furniture, make sure you choose pieces that “spark joy”.)
Wait! Remember, you do need to plan for some additional furnishing costs to help get that “Designed” look.
Now you know how to budget for the essentials when furnishing an apartment from scratch.
So once you cover the basic pieces (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!
In this next section, 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?
You definitely want to avoid a mismatched set of furniture in your home.
Need some visual inspiration first? Go check out these beautifully styled 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 NOOK from $1400 to $10,700
Excited yet? Feeling overwhelmed? No worries! Get a free design proposal from Furnishr to see 2-3 design options for your whole apartment.
Just answer a few questions about who you are and what your space is like, and you’ll get a custom proposal in 1-2 days. Each design includes all the furniture for your entire home. They also set up the whole home in a day, just like a home make-over show!
If you are committed to a picture-perfect apartment, then you’ll need some extra furnishings to take it up a notch. Now let’s get back to the bonus furnishing tips.
Non-Essential Furniture and Their Typical Retail Costs
Here’s what our interior design team recommends for optional, bonus furnishings.
ITEM ONE. TV Stand (or Sideboard): $400-700
- For small spaces, a TV stand can be the only storage piece you have. Because of this, invest in one with ample storage compartments.
- However, if space is really limited, do without the TV stand. Get a storage coffee table instead and mount the TV onto the wall.
ITEM TWO. 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 few small knick knacks, and several drinking glasses.
ITEM THREE. Area Rug: $290-500 (depending on size)
- The standard size is 5×8′, then 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 and make sure both front legs of your sofa can be on the rug. If your coffee table is centred on the rug, have at least 18″ of walkway 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!
ITEM FOUR. Dresser: $400-800
- A dresser should have at least two drawers.
- 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, that’s okay!
Just make sure that you have covered the 3 – 4 pieces of essential furniture for both your living room and bedroom. The rest can follow later. It takes time to furnish a space from scratch if you’re doing it yourself.
To review, here are the cost breakdowns of living room / bedroom, and essential / nonessential furniture for your new place:
• Total costs for essential living room furniture will be: $2050 to $3150
• Total costs for essential bedroom furniture will be: $880 to $2300.
• Total costs for nonessential furnishings will be: $1190 to $2200.
OVERALL FURNITURE costs for JUST ESSENTIALS: $2930 to $5450.
OVERALL FURNITURE costs for ESSENTIALS + NONESSENTIALS: $4100 to $7600.
In short, $3500-5800 should be the total range of cost of furnishing an apartment with just the essential furniture.
Living Room Essentials
|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|
Okay, one more thing to consider. What about the cost of your time?
Don’t Forget the Time & Hassle of Moving!
Remember our case study, Lucy? All she wanted to do was prepare for her new job.
But there are additional time and energy costs associated with furnishing.
How much is your time really worth? What is your plan for handling furniture?
You could rent a truck or get some friends to help you with the moving, setup and cleaning. You could also get it delivered in multiple shipments. You will need to coordinate each delivery with your new building, and remember to book the service elevator.
• Did you know most furniture stores can’t guarantee your furniture will arrive all at once?
• And your delivery costs could range from $150 to $300 per item per store.
Before you buy, remember that most delivery services drop off items on different days, and many don’t include assembly.
Once you finally have all your unassembled furniture, then you have to assemble it. Doing it yourself is time consuming, and hiring a handyman to assemble your furniture can cost you an additional $30-50/hour. And when assembly is done, what about the boxes and clean up? You would have to cut up the boxes or fold them down in order to fit them into your building’s recycling bins.
But there is an easier way.
Ultimately, Lucy found a way to furnish her apartment completely from scratch and all in a single day, with no need to assemble anything or clean up.
You don’t need to take vacation days to stay home and wait for multiple furniture deliveries!
Your new job is starting soon, and your official move-in day is rapidly approaching! You know what you want your new apartment to look like. You’re feeling ready. Well, almost.
How can you make this move easy for your future self? Your future self probably wants to start a new adventure without the stress and anxiety of managing all this annoying moving stuff. We’ve got your back.
Ready to see how Lucy solved all her moving & furnishing difficulties with a single, comprehensive solution?
CASE STUDY: Lucy’s Studio
Lucy ended up using Furnishr and purchased a comprehensive furnishing package, completely avoiding 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 for her designer.
She was paired with Elle, one of Furnishr’s dedicated designers. Together they chose the perfect items to fit Lucy’s budget and her style preferences.
- Size of Lucy’s studio: 350 square feet
- Lucy’s furnishing budget: $2900-3200 USD
Lucy’s living space is small, but it’s a good rectangular space that can easily be segmented into a living room and separate sleeping area.
Just 15 days after placing her order, every single piece was delivered and set up in Lucy’s studio, all in a single day.
Here’s how Lucy furnished her studio, from empty room to mood board to finished and styled!
Lucy received all the above items in her $2999 USD Furnishr package. She was super happy to pay for a comprehensive service and save time and money on the furniture, delivery, and assembly.
“I can’t believe I furnished the whole apartment for just $3000 without doing any work.The transformation was miraculous!”
The biggest lesson? Lucy realized her time is actually worth more than a bit of savings, especially in the midst of a big life change. Maybe it was on moving day that somebody coined the phrase ‘Time is money!’
Whew! What have we learned?
Moving is stressful — but that means that you’re trying something new and exciting. So congrats! You are well on your way to furnishing an amazing apartment.
Moving and furnishing an empty apartment is no walk in the park, but Furnishr can make it easier.
SUMMARY of the best ways to furnish your space:
First, save money by furnishing with a single company. The retail costs of Lucy’s furniture would have been at least 20% more if she went elsewhere.
Second, collaborate with a trained designer to save time and prevent mistakes. 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 a move, bookmark this page and get a custom proposal for furnishing your own space. (It’s right over there, where it says “Get Started” —>).
Furnishr wants to help you save time and create a nicely furnished home with high-quality furnishings.
Our goal is to make your move easy, wherever your next adventure takes you. So do right by your future self, and go check out your options to Get A Custom Design ASAP.