How do I furnish an entire house on a low budget?
It finally happened, after months of house or apartment tours, bidding wars, heartbreak, or just not finding what you wanted, you landed a place and signed the paperwork. Now, after stretching yourself to your limit to get the place of your dreams, you realize you have nothing to put into the place. How on earth are you going to furnish the place without blowing the budget?
Furnishing on a Budget
We have been programmed by society and really great marketing to believe the cheapest way to go and furnish a place is by taking a one-stop shopping trip to IKEA. Did IKEA ever actually advertise themselves as the cheapest option? Definitely not - they have some great, low cost items but you will be shelling out a near-fortune if you style your entire home or apartment with brand-new flat packed Sweedish wares.
The truth is, brand new furniture is not always the best answer. In fact, you are doing the planet, your local economy and yourself a disservice if you insist on getting everything new. Most furniture these days is manufactured overseas, Canadian fabricators have all but dried up due to the cheap cost of the low-grade stuff that comes in on a boat. Buy as much as you can for your new place through the thriving second-hand economy.
Buying used furniture keeps it from going into landfill, and has the additional benefit of not needing to consume raw materials to make a new piece of furniture. Your new couch also only has to travel halfway across the city or province, not the planet, to get into your living room. Imagine how much fuel that saves, and the greenhouse gas impact you're avoiding.
The online peer-to-peer marketplaces ($)
The best places to look depend on what your price range, tastes, free time and willingness to put in a little elbow grease are. The easy and obvious choices are Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. You can find thousands of whatever it is you need in seconds. Now, you need to find the one that is closest to you, or the one that looks the nicest, or maybe the one that is closest to you, since you'll need to run over and pick it up before someone else gets it. Let's not forget about the price negotiation, almost everything on these platforms is up for price negotiation, but if you play the game too hard, you might come home empty handed.
Once you've negotiated a deal, you have to figure out how to get it to your new place. You can't ask the seller to hold onto it for a few weeks until you move, you'll have to rent or borrow a vehicle large enough and get a friend to come with you ASAP if you want to lock down the prize. If you are a wizard at online marketplaces, you might be able to book several deals in a row and fill the whole van up in one trip.
For those who don't have an abundance of free time, or realize that their own time is worth an hourly rate, you might be willing to pay a little (or a lot) more for some convenience. Here are some other options:
Consignment Shops ($$$)
For higher end items or one-of-a-kind styles, the next place you might look are consignment shops. Here in Toronto, we have a plethora of places with amazing items. The Singing Lady Consignment, Elle & Eve, Of Things Past are just a few that come to mind. If you aren't familiar with the concept, Consignment shops take furniture in from homeowners and try to sell it on their behalf, usually splitting the proceeds 50/50 or 60/40. Consignment shops are always bombarded with so much stuff, that you likely will only find the absolute best specimens behind their doors, which also means you'll be paying top dollar. Most of these shops used to insist you pick up the items, but thanks to COVID-19 they have figured out how to offer delivery services, which makes bringing home your new finds much easier.
Charitable Organizations ($-$$)
You might be thinking about Value Village on this one, but you would be wrong. Value Village is actually a for-profit business owned by a major conglomerate, and they don't even sell furniture. Most charitable organizations take in used furniture and give it to families in need. You can go to and find some great furniture, appliances and other small things you might need by visiting your local Habitat ReStore. The selection at each location varies widely and it is always a fun adventure to pop in and see what's new. You can also shop their website and get some items delivered.
Used Goods, Antiques Stores ($-$$$)
Falling into this category is pretty much everything else. Most shops will specialize in a certain era, or just general antiques, or a certain room in the house. Depending on the style, location and how they source their goods, you can find some amazing deals in a lot of these stores, or you can be paying top dollar for unique treasure. A quick google search of your favorite style will find a home decor specializing in those items. For example, if Mid Century Modern furniture is your thing, you will very quickly find Mid Century Modern Toronto, an online-only specialty shop that offers delivery.
Someware, Your One-Stop Furnishing Shop ($-$$$)
And then of course there is Someware (buysomeware.ca), the place you can truly find anything under the sun. We cover the entire spectrum from cheap and functional to custom high-end furniture, housewares, dishes, lighting, and more. Our network of partners bring us in when there is a home full of goods that desperately need to find a new home that doesn't resemble a dumpster.
We accept items from all eras and any level of imperfection, as long as it is clean, functional and actually something that can be reused. Sometimes, an item just needs a few minutes of work or a few missing screws to make it completely useful again, and we make that happen. We have the equipment to clean or sanitize almost everything that we carry, adding an optional layer of comfort over our inbound screening process.
At Someware, we empty out entire homes from top to bottom, which means we've got what you need to fill one back up. Kitchenware, small appliances and cutlery share shelf space with decorative trinkets and stereo systems. Bedroom sets bump corners with wall units and couches. The best part, we can deliver it all to you on your move-in day. We know you need to get your shopping done before you get the keys, so we offer delayed delivery and long-lead storage options to make sure you can lock down the stuff you need before you need it. Move in effortlessly, with style for a fraction of the cost of new.