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The Cost of Furnishing an Apartment 2020: A Step-By-Step Guide With Breakdown Of Furniture Costs

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.

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.

Let’s break this down!

Open living dining room with white walls, New York Apartment

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.

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. 

 1) Your Budget vs. Cost of Furnishing

To shed some light, we invited one of our recent customers, Lucy, to share her journey with us furnishing her studio apartment. Lucy Initially budgeted for $1,985 thinking this was enough. A few factors such as inflation, transport costs, labor and gas prices have gone up since Lucy last bought furniture in her college days. 

BELOW IS LUCY’S JOURNEY FOR BUDGETING:

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 for her Studio Apartment. She ended up with an estimate of $3,076.75 even from IKEA!

Furniture Budget for a 1-bedroom apartment

When she started adding items to her virtual shopping cart, her total estimated cost came in OVER BUDGET by 55% ($3,076.75)  — 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?

studio layout


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.

2) Use our Furnishing Cost Calculator

We have built a calculator here to help figure out a reasonable budget that works for a home of a particular size. From a studio apartment to a 6-bedroom house, we’ve broken down the property by the typical rooms in it.

Keep in mind that the range is an estimate based on average room sizes. An “average room size” is still a subjective measurement. Ultimately, you want to see what is the most stylish design you can fit into your home. You will get to request a design proposal after using the calculator. 

3) 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: $1,800-$2,600

 

  1. Your layout determines your seating needs.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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
 
  1. This is a big one! Many apartments/homes 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!
  2. 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…

Here’s a price comparison of how much cheaper your living room could be (on the right) if you buy from a direct furnishing company like Furnishr versus more expensive retailers like West Elm or Crate & Barrel (on the left side). These are the average prices for products with decent quality.

 

cost of furnishing a living room price comparison table

Cost Breakdown of Furnishing:
Basic Bedroom

Average Retail Cost to Furnish a Basic Bedroom? $880 – $2,300

Here’s a breakdown of essential bedroom furniture (bed frame + mattress + nightstand) and their typical retail costs. 

Essential Bedroom Furniture and Typical Retail Costs

ITEM ONE. Bed Frame: $400-800

  1. 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.
  2. A bed should be made to last, so consider it a key investment piece
  3. A nice headboard can also serve as a statement design item in the bedroom, make sure you love the headboard!

ITEM TWO. Mattress: $300-1200

  1. A good mattress is the key to a good night’s sleep, so definitely don’t skimp here either.
  2. There are many different kinds, like memory foam and spring mattresses
  3. Choose a mattress (and bed) size that fits properly in your bedroom. Remember that you need enough space to move around the room comfortably. 
  4. 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

  1. You need at least one surface area next to the bed for a table lamp, an alarm clock, your phone or a book.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Cost of Furnishing – Bedroom Furniture Price Comparison:
Retailer Vs Furnisher

bedroom furnishing table

4) Now for that “Designed” look.

Now you know how to budget for the essentials when furnishing an apartment from scratch. Let’s level up, in this 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. – You definitely want to avoid a mismatched set of furniture in your home.

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

  1. For small spaces, a TV stand can be the only storage piece you have. Because of this, invest in one with ample storage compartments.
  2. 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

  1. Give yourself more places to put lamps, glasses, and decor items!
  2. 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 centered 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 colors 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: $2,050 to $3,150

• Total costs for essential bedroom furniture will be: $880 to $2,300. 

• Total costs for nonessential furnishings will be: $1,190 to $2,200.

5) Summary – TLDR:

OVERALL FURNITURE costs for JUST ESSENTIALS:  $2,930 to $5,450. 
OVERALL FURNITURE costs for ESSENTIALS + NONESSENTIALS: $4,100 to $7,600.

 


Furnishing a
 Studio apartment with traditional retailers will cost between USD $2,930-$5,450 for essential items. With Furnishr it will cost USD $2,000 – $5,600 for essential items AND additional items that will give you the Designed Look you’re seeking. Furnishr delivers, assembles & removes garbage free of charge.

Living Room Essentials
Bedroom Essentials
Bonus Items
Sofa $1800 – 2500Bed $400 – 800TV Stand / Sideboard $400 – 650
Coffee Table $120 – 260Mattress $300 – 1200Side Table(s) $100 – 200 each
Floor Lamp $130 – 290Nightstand(s) $180 – 300Area Rug $280 – 480
  Dresser $400 – 800
$2,050 to $3,150$880 to $2,300$1,180 to $2,130

6) 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.

DELIVERIES

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. 

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?

Want us to furnish your apartment in a day? Click here to submit a design request

 

7) 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: $2,900-3,200 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!

Empty and dark studio apartment, unfurnished
Lucy’s Empty Studio Apartment

Studio furniture board

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!

Studio of Lucy
Here is the final layout of Lucy’s studio space.

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!’ 

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.

Good luck!

Want us to furnish your apartment?

Complete a design request and we will show you design packages that fit you!
Categories
Airbnb Furnishing Design Tips Furnishing 101

Airbnb Host Checklist for Room Design

Airbnb Host Checklist for Room Essentials

Here is a checklist to help you design an Airbnb space that’s beautiful and accommodating! Because amazing room design = amazing prices.

 

 

  • For instance, a decent studio in New York City can be rented for $150-350 for a night.
  • Not only that, but a rental that sleeps more than 6 can net $650 or more per night.

It’s a fact that we regularly see high ROI (return on investment) in furnishing Airbnb rental units nicely. We might be biased, since we ourselves have furnished a number of luxury short-term stay homes and Airbnb rental properties over the past three years. But it’s true that branding your unit as a luxury retreat can help you generate more profits in the long term.

 

 

You may think that cleanliness is the biggest influence on a customer’s ratings. It’s true that cleanliness is the baseline to your guest’s comfort and a 5-star review. But having decent looking and comfortable furniture is another major factor on your rental prices. Consider people traveling to a big city like NYC for fun or for work. They want the entire trip to be a positive experience! Thus, the interior design quality of their accommodation can take their whole experience up a notch. Not only that but many successful short-term stay companies like OneFineStay and Sonder have shown that Airbnb guests will pay big bucks for nicely designed homes when on vacation.

 

 

Regardless, this Airbnb host checklist provides you with a detailed description of the furniture, accessories and essential items you need to set up an Airbnb property and earn some extra money.

 

 

A final tip: Even if your unit is in a great location, terrible photos can make people skip right over your listing. It’s no wonder that Airbnb has started offering photography services for hosts to make sure they have decent photos. So — once you complete the checklist below, don’t forget to go get some high quality photos taken!

 

 

Happy furnishing!

 

Glamorous living dining room

Airbnb Host Checklist: Furniture and Accessories

For the Bedroom:

 

an Airbnb bedroom furnished

  1. Bed with a nice headboard

    • An upholstered bed gives a warm cozy feeling to any bedroom
    • Don’t use a storage bed because guests are more prone to leave things behind if you give them more drawers in different pieces of furniture. It’ll just become an operational hassle
  2. Mattress (at least 8” thick)

    • Vacationing and work travels are tiring. Make sure you give your guests good nights of sleep with a decently thick and firm mattress
    • Memory foam mattresses are more durable than spring mattresses because there won’t be any broken coils
    • Soft memory foam mattresses can sag on odd sides over time. You can easily just turn and/or flip the mattress to extend its life
    • Memory foam mattresses are also cheaper to replace
    • We also suggest using a mattress case, which is a fabric cover with a zipper used to protect the mattress from bugs and dirt. In the event of messy guests and messy stays, you can just replace the mattress case and keep the mattress
  3. Dresser or chest of drawers

    • You need at least one storage piece in the bedroom. A luxurious bedroom should not ask your guests to live out of their suitcase.
    • A wide dresser with 6 drawers is ideal since there can be two people sharing this room
  4. Nightstand or side table

    • There needs to be a surface area to put a table lamp, an alarm clock, a book, and a phone.
    • If you have a dresser already, you don’t need more drawers on the nightstand. Again, the more drawers you give your guests, the more chances they will leave things behind
    • If your bed is centered in a room, place one side table on each side of the bed to create symmetry
  1. Mirror

    • Everyone needs to look good before they head out to make sure there is at least one mirror in the room, even if there is an attached ensuite bathroom
    • Place the mirror above the dresser or have a free-standing floor mirror
    • The mirror is also a decorative item so find one with an interesting frame
  2. Lighting

    • Some guests might enjoy staying in to read a book or work some more. Make sure there’s ample lighting for the night.
    • Floor lamps and table lamps are both great options.
    • The lamp(s) can also be another design feature in the room so pick wisely!
  3. Bedding

    • For the pillowcases, bed sheets, flat sheet and duvet, use the same set in white. Don’t mix and match from different brands because the white may be different.
    • And let’s not be too creative with the color matching or color blocking in the bedding set. Guests want to see clean white sheets on their beds to feel comfortable sleeping in a stranger’s room
    • Place one simple throw pillow to glam up the bed
  4. Art & Rug

    • Arts and an area rug will add more colors and patterns to the room.
    • The nice and thick rug will keep their feet warm and soft in the morning.
    • Though they are optional, rugs do add the luxury touch to any bedroom

For the Living Room: 

Vacation Home in Tybee Island - Furnished with sofa bed airbnb

 

  1. Sofabed (with pull-out mattress)

    • Increasing occupancy in the unit increases rent, so a sofa bed is essential to increase your return on investment.
    • It’s also important to differentiate a sofa bed with pull-out mattress and a fold-down futon.
    • Sofa beds with a pull-out mattress means there’s a proper mattress underneath the seat cushions. There is a lift mechanism that lets you pull out the mattress easily. These sofa beds are made to be comfortable for seating as well as sleeping. The mattress, though is thin, is a firm memory foam mattress that guarantees you a good sleep without having to feel the hardware underneath. These sofa beds are at least twice as expensive as futons but they are more structurally sound and are worth the investment.
    • Fold-down futons, on the other hands, are made a simple frame and a gliding mechanism to fold down the back cushions of the sofa to make it into the size of a twin or double bed. There are usually 2 or 3 back cushions and 2 or 3 seat cushions, so you will feel all the gaps when sleeping.
  2. Coffee table

    • A coffee table provides a surface area to place drinks and snacks in your living space.
    • There are many lift-top coffee table designs that let you use it as a workstation which is a nice feature to sell on your listing.
  3. Lighting

    • 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.
    • You don’t want your guests wandering around in the dark and walking into walls or furniture!
  4. Flat screen TV with a Chromecast

    • For nights of staying in, there should be a TV for Netflix or streaming of music and shows
    • Connected to a Chromecast, your guest will be more choices for entertainment

Other Airbnb Amenities and Essentials

Toronto Yorkville AirBnb 

In addition to furniture, you need to provide other living essentials and basic amenities for the kitchen and bathroom as well to make this Airbnb rental the “home away from home”.

Living Essential

  • Iron & Ironing board or steamer
  • Hangers for each closet
  • Trash can in each room

Kitchen Essentials

  • Plates, bowls
  • Cups, glasses and wine glasses
  • Utensils
  • Cutleries
  • Can opener
  • Pots & Pans
  • Cooking utensils
  • Coasters
  • Toaster
  • Kettle

Bathroom Essentials

  • Hair dryer
  • Bath towels
  • Hand towels
  • Hand soap
  • Shampoo, conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash & disposable cups
  • Disposable toothbrush
  • Air freshener
  • Extra toilet papers
  • Hooks on the door

There are also other welcoming gadgets to make your apartment feels like home for your guests. In particular, if they love your unit, they will return next time and recommend you to their friends.

Our Stylish Over-the-Top Welcoming Kit

close up photography of person wearing pink house slippers

  • Universal phone chargers for androids, iPhones and other brands
  • Outlet converter (for travelers from outside of North America)
  • Flip flops or slippers
  • Bathrobes
  • Yoga Mat
  • Speaker for music
  • Chromecast
  • Safe (combination)
  • Airbnb Guidebook

Finally, you want to get your entire home set up ASAP so you can start making money right away

 

 

Most landlords lose out on the rent for the first month because they take too long to set up the home and take photos of the entire place. Just remember that a rental home isn’t your own home! You do not have the luxury to take your time to shop for furniture and each item with care.

 

 

 In other words, the more time you take to set up the home and take nice photos of each room, the more money it will cost you. This is exactly why people hire us!

Furnishr Review: Furnished Airbnb Design

a west village airbnb furnished by Furnishr

 

Our customer, Jason, got the keys to this beautiful townhouse in West Village of Manhattan last month and we furnished the entire house the next day. His first guest checked in three days after he got his keys. 

 

 

All he gave us was a floor plan, his budget and how many beds and sofa beds he wanted. We took care of everything else; from deciding on the colour scheme based on his preferred style of the home, selecting the furniture, selecting the accessories, space planning to delivery and setup in one day.

 

 

Jason’s budget was $15k for 3 bedrooms, 1 living room, 1 dining room, 1 kitchen, 1 basement studio and an outdoor patio for a total of 8 rooms. The average cost for the living room, dining room, bedrooms and basement studio was $2000 which includes all the furniture and accessories. The outdoor spaces and kitchen cost about $3000 in total.

 

 

Although it is a big cost up front, he is now able to brand it as a luxury, high quality Airbnb rental and charge  $800-1000/night to rent out his entire home. The cost of furnishing the whole home was paid off within the first half of the month

 

 

With Furnishr’s help, you can soon be on our way to receive great reviews with your Airbnb fully booked each month.

Jason's west village airbnb living room with a fireplace, coffee table, a chair and a couch

Jason's west village airbnb guest bedroom

Jason's west village airbnb in another guest bedroom furnished by Furnishr

Categories
Airbnb Furnishing Featured Furnishing 101

The Cost of Furnishing an Apartment: A Step-By-Step Guide With Breakdown Of Furniture Costs

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

Want us to furnish your apartment in a day? Click here to submit a design request

 

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.

 

Open living dining room with white walls, New York Apartment

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

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.

Furniture Budget for a 1-bedroom apartment

 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?

studio layout

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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 of furnishing a living room price comparison table

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

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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

bedroom furnishing table

(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.

Bookshelf with tree accessorized to achieve a 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:

  1. A snow-white LIVING ROOM from $2400 to $9100
  2. An elegant contemporary BEDROOM from $3800 to $10,000
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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
Bedroom Essentials
Bonus Items
Sofa $1800 – 2500Bed $400 – 800TV Stand / Sideboard $400 – 650
Coffee Table $120 – 260Mattress $300 – 1200Side Table(s) $100 – 200 each
Floor Lamp $130 – 290Nightstand(s) $180 – 300Area 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.

DELIVERIES

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. 

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!

Empty and dark studio apartment, unfurnished
Lucy’s Empty Studio Apartment

Studio furniture board

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!

Studio of Lucy
Here is the final layout of Lucy’s studio space.

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.

Good luck!

Want us to furnish your apartment?

Complete a design request and we will show you design packages that fit you!