How to kit out your dream home without the nightmare price tag

By Rosie Earl
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Moving to your dream home is an exciting time for anyone. However, try not to get carried away with spending.

There's something refreshing about moving house. You've fallen in love a bit. There's something you can't get out of your mind, like the kitchen, or the whirlpool bath, and you imagine yourself having a happy life there until your 104. One of the fun parts is buying all new things to put your stamp on the place; to really make it home. This can be an expensive business, but there are certainly some places where you can cut the costs, and other items where it really pays to choose quality.

Splurges

There are some items where buying cheap (as in poor quality) is false economy. Research by the UK Statistics Authority in 2015 found that nearly 10 million working days were lost in 2014 due to back pain, so any purchases that may impact your spine are worth considering. Beds, sofas and chairs, for example, are all good investments. Some companies, such as internet-based mattress suppliers Sleepbear and Simba, will allow you to try the product for 100 days and you can return it if you don't find it comfortable, meaning you can invest without any risk. There is also a lot to be said for reading online reviews of products and asking friends and family, however remember that these could be biased based on personal events. IKEA may have great meatballs, but it doesn't mean the chairs will be perfect for your frame, and just because your cousin's ex-girlfriend is the manager at Bedland doesn't mean their mattresses are rubbish.

Another area where you may find that cost cutting doesn’t work is in your household tech. A recent study by Bush found that almost half of those surveyed felt that tech was one of the most important homeware purchases they would make to turn their house into a home. With aspirational images of perfect homes being shared over social media, keeping up with the latest equipment comes at a price. When planning your budget, you may decide that a state-of-the-art TV or integrated sound throughout the house is a priority. You can still shop around for bargains at Currys PC World, who have frequent seasonal sales, and Tesco Direct who run some good add-on special offers. If you’re thinking of buying your tech towards the end of the year, most online outlets and major stores offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts, so they are also worth keeping an eye open for.

Savers

There are many items where you can go for the cheaper option, and you won't lose out on quality. Lamps, for example, don't have to cost the earth, as long as they look nice in your room. Decoration can be fairly inexpensive too, with shops like Asda, Home Bargains, The Range and B&Q all selling block mounted or framed pictures for around £20 or less. Kitchen appliances are another place where you can spend less and get more. Argos, for example, sells some great value blenders, mixers and microwaves at a fraction of the cost of the big name brands, and they work just as well. It may surprise you to know that you can afford to scrimp on bigger items, such as fridge freezers, dishwashers and microwaves, as the less expensive versions tend to work as well as the big name brands.

It's always worth remembering that if you're buying anything electrical, make sure it carries the CE mark, so you know it's safe. You should also check that the appliance you buy is energy efficient, as these will save you money in the long run. Appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers and fridge-freezers account for about 20% of your electricity bill, and according to a study by Which?, an energy efficient appliance could save you up to £85 per year.

A great way to find a bargain is by checking what is available on Freecycle. The sharing site allows people to get rid of their unwanted items to people that need them. This is a great option for those on a tight budget or looking for something in the interim while they save for a product they really want.

Bargain Hunting

There are bargains all around if you know where to look for them.

Electrical Deals and White Goods: Argos and Amazon both have warehouse deals, where you can pick up white goods and electrical equipment at a reduced price. This may be because it is an ex-display item or because it has been returned. Make sure you're clear on your right to return these items should you need to.

Furniture and bedding: Dunelm and Wayfair offer some fantastic bargains to dress up your bed with high quality covers. There's nothing worse than buying a duvet set that looks adorable, but you can't sleep under it because the fabric is scratchy. Picking up good quality thread count bedding at an outlet can give you some luxury that won't break the bank.

Homeware:. Homesense, part of the TK Maxx family, has some lovely and unusual homeware, including plates, glasses, artwork and furniture. Many pieces are discounted, so it’s a great place to look. You can also check out eBay (filter your searches to free local pick up to avoid getting stung on delivery) and charity shops to get some great deals on pre-loved items. Sellers like My-Industrial-Furniture, B00gal00-b0utique, and erasgone2u are all great examples of places to pick up unique and interesting homeware.

Don’t forget, charity shops are also a great place to find a bargain. The British Heart Foundation has made a name for itself with its excellent furniture shops as it checks all the goods before they are accepted and will only sell the best condition pieces. The bonus here is that you can pick up a deal there while helping a great cause too.

Talking the talk

Negotiating can be quite scary, but if you're good at it, you can save a fortune. While I'm not advocating trying to convince your local Tesco to take 50p for a £1 bag of Doritos, there are places where if you ask you might get rewarded. If you're buying a tv, for example, do your research and see how much it's selling for in different shops, then approach a more expensive shop and ask if they can beat the cheaper price - the worst they can say is no. If you don't feel like you can ask for money off, you could always ask if they can throw something in, for example, free delivery (if this is not already offered), or free hdmi cables with your tv, or a free kettle with your toaster. It all adds up to getting you more for your money. A recent Which? survey found that you can save about £350 per year by querying the price of your broadband, home insurance and car insurance, which is a great incentive.

Top takeaways & helpful links

You can give each room a lift by being savvy where you spend, spluge and bargain*.

Bedrooms

Splurge: Mattresses -Sleepbear Mattresses from £399

Save: Bedding - Wayfair Bedding from £5.99

Bargain: eBay pair of bedside tables from £0.99

 

Living Room

Splurge: IKEA sofas from £275

Save: Amazon TVs from £49

Bargain: Freecycle coffee table from free (if one is available)

 

Kitchen

Splurge: B&Q Kitchen Paint from £28 for 5L

Save: Argos Fridge Freezer from £129.99

Bargain: Gumtree Kitchen Table from £15

 

*Prices correct as of May 2017

 

Author bio: Rosie is a massive geek who loves anything Hello Kitty or penguin related. She writes every day and wants to be Caitlin Moran when she grows up. If she was an animal, she would be a baby dragon (with a solid background in finance). The Sorting Hat would have put her in Hufflepuff, and she is cool with that.

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