by Michele Dawson
Once you buy a house, chances are
you'll soon be buying new furniture.
With all the expenses attached to
homeownership, coupled with the one-time
expenses that come in the first year
decorating and furnishing the house,
it's important to carefully plan your
"In the first twelve months
after purchasing a newly built home,
owners spend an average of $8,900
to furnish, decorate and improve their
homes -- more than twice the $4,000
spent by non-movers," the National
Association of Homebuilderssays in
its report, "Housing: The Key
to Economic Recovery."
The report says about 77 percent
of it goes toward furnishings and
changes to the property. The rest
is spent on appliances.
Those who buy existing homes spend
$3,766 more than non-moving homeowners
in the year after they buy a home.
The Eastern Massachusetts, Maine and
Vermont branch of the Better Business
Bureau (BBB) says it's important to
plan and research so you get the most
for your money -- and maximum enjoyment
from your furniture.
The group offers these tips:
- Figure out what you need. Decide
exactly what you will need and how
long you will need it. That should
also play a role in how much you
plan on spending. For example, if
you're buying a baby crib that will
only be used for a few years, you
may want to budget less than a table
or piece that you will have for
- Know how it will be used. If
you have small children, then you'll
want to choose furniture and fabrics
that can stand up to your kids'
wear and tear. On the other hand,
if you don't have kids or the kids
are out of the house, you may prefer
pieces more suitable for entertaining
or that won't get everyday use.
- Determine your space constraints.
Draw up a floor plan of the room
you will be furnishing and sketch
in different furniture arrangements
to see how you can best make use
of the space.
- Set a budget. Before you shop,
determine how much you will spend
-- and stick to it.
The American Furniture Manufacturers
Association suggests you skim through
home and decorating magazines for
ideas on how to furnish your house.
Specifically, you should identify
your personal style, whether it's
casual, contemporary, country, traditional,
or eclectic. Think about your preferences
-- which colors, textures and patterns
The AFMA also says you should prioritize
your purchases, determining which
items you want or need most.
To assist you in the selection process,
many furniture stores offer interior
design consultation, room planning
guides and product brochures. In the
end, trust your own judgment and buy
what you like.
The BBB recommends shopping around
for quality, price, credit terms and
service. Extra delivery charges or
higher credit charges could mean what
initially appeared to be a good buy
isn't so good. And when you're shopping,
be sure to check out the labels.
Federal Trade Commission guidelines
require manufacturers to say whether
materials like vinyl or synthetics
are used to give the appearance of
another material, like marble. If
a label mentions only one wood, all
surfaces must be wood. If there are
veneers, the label has to say so.
Once you eye furniture you consider
purchasing, find out the precise terms
and conditions of warranties, as well
as the store's return policy. And
if you're buying on credit, be sure
you know the full terms and know how
much interest you'll be paying.