Can you design a home without buying anything new?

3 years ago
4 minutes

Furnishing your home can be an expensive process, but there are several options to keep the price down.

You can opt for inexpensive Scandinavian design pieces, or find a series of items in the sales to make your home look expensive on the cheap.

But another option could be to get all your furniture and appliances second hand, through websites like Gumtree and Ebay. There are loads of benefits in doing this, so here are some tips if you are thinking of giving it a go. 

Do your research

When shopping second-hand, always do your homework on the item you want. Check how much it is full price first, so you know you’re getting a good deal for the used model. 


Don’t be afraid to ask the vendor questions about the product they are selling — you wouldn’t buy something new without knowing everything works. 

Enquire for more photos if you need them and question if pieces are in good condition or if they need more work. You may be able to get a better price if you do. 

Wait for your moment before pouncing

Just because you see heaps of cheap furniture and TVs on Gumtree, it doesn’t mean you need to be creating a store in your own home.

Be patient when searching for a good deal, or for the right item. Chances are something will come up that you love and you’ll be glad you waited for that perfect price.


When you’ve found it, be sure to pounce fast – hopefully before other people realise it’s available. The first rule of bartering is offering a low price initially, so don’t be scared to do so here. Often you’ll find the vendor just wants to get rid of the item as fast as possible, and so will accept a lower offer. 

Don’t buy items that can’t be restored 

Sometimes you’ll buy things second hand that need a little bit of work done to fit in with your home. So, stick with things like tables, chairs and dressers that can be repainted, re-screwed or re-varnished. 

Metal furniture makes for good seconds. Wrought iron or aluminium, for example, is beautiful when refurbished. If you remove rust and repaint, you’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to breathe new life into the furniture. 

However, steer clear of items like mattresses and sofas. Although these might appear like a great deal, mattresses in particular can harbour germs, bacteria, and bugs that you can’t see. 


If you have to buy a sofa or chair second-hand, keep in mind that, according to homeadvisor, the average reupholstery cost is $656 for small chairs and between $342 and $972 for a couch. 

Be aware that style is ever-changing

When buying furniture at a cheaper price, you can afford to be more adventurous in your picks. You can buy something without feeling bad if you want to change the space a year or so later.


Keeping this in mind, don’t be afraid to buy something you wouldn’t buy normally and add a splash of something different to your home. If it doesn’t work, you can always re-sell — the furniture circle of life continues.

Be smart when picking it up 

You don’t want to get to the seller’s house, pick up your new wardrobe, only to realise it has no chance of fitting in your Suzuki Swift. So, ensure you double check the dimensions of what you’re buying and compare that to the boot of your car.

Also, if at all possible, try not to pick up the item and meet the seller alone. This just keeps both parties safe in the transaction as well as making it easier to load your purchase into the car — quite often you’ll find the vendor doesn’t feel like helping you is part of the price. 

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