How to furnish and decorate your new home on a tight budget

PHOTO: Moneysmart

Singaporeans take decorating their love nests very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that people are spending more and more on costly renovation packages which promise to turn their HDB flats into palaces.

The average amount Singaporeans spend on renovations is reportedly a whopping $50,000 to $60,000, which in some countries could buy you an entire home.

After renovations, you'll be lucky to have any money left over to activate your water and electricity, let alone furnish your new home.

Before you hot-foot it to Ikea, here are seven ways to furnish and decorate your home without having to sell your internal organs on the black market.

1. Get free furniture

They say nothing comes for free in Singapore, but that's not 100 per cent true. People frequently give away furniture at no charge on Singapore's Freecycle Network.

Of course, your ability to get stuff depends on how quick you are to reply to a post before other people do.

But if you don't need to furnish your home urgently and aren't too picky about the appearance of the items, there's a decent stream of beds, sofas, desks, dining tables, chairs, and kitchen stuff.

2. Buy second hand furniture online

One big advantage of buying second hand furniture online is that it often gets sold for much, much less than it was bought, even if it's in great condition.

There are also lots of people selling furniture that's of a much higher quality than Ikea's. Many of these sellers are expats who're leaving Singapore in a hurry.

Try all the usual suspects like Carousell, Gumtree, Locanto, and Craigslist and you should be able to find just about any furniture item and electrical appliance in existence.

3. Shop at second hand furniture stores and thrift stores

Want to buy second hand furniture but don't want to do it on the internet? If you're really on a budget you might be able to score some deals at thrift stores/social enterprises like The Salvation Army's stores and Something Old Something New.

There's also a growing number of furniture stores selling used, upcycled or retro furniture, such as the popular Hock Siong and Co, which offers used homeware at reasonable prices. Beware that the more hipsterish the store, the higher the prices.

4. Upcycle furniture on your own

Upcycled furniture is all the rage now, and some businesses are charging sky high prices for refurbished, hipsterised furniture.

If you enjoyed D&T back at school or just like the feeling of a spray can in your hands, you can try your hand at upcycling free/cheap furniture.

A plastic chair or old side table, when spray painted a whimsical colour, instantly looks right at home in a modern household, while those who know what to do with a needle and thread can even try to reupholster obiang armchairs and couches.

5. Get friends to help paint your walls

Some Singaporeans are guilty of approaching construction workers and offering them a few bucks to paint their walls. If you're above doing that, do it yourself.

Simple projects like wall-painting can be tackled by just about anyone. So bribe your friends with a home-cooked meal and get them to help out over the weekend. Blast some music and an otherwise monotonous chore turns into a party, well, sort of.

6. DIY your wall art

Does the sight of bare walls make you feel like an inmate in a mental institution? It's a good thing great-looking DIY wall art is actually not difficult to create at all, even for the most artistically challenged.

Have a look at these tantalising DIY wall art ideas here, here, and here, which all look better than Ikea's framed stock photos.

7. Shop on Taobao

No matter how cheap something is in Singapore, you can find it for even less on Taobao. While you may not want to buy your marital bed on Taobao, you can find perfectly respectable decorative items of all types on the site.

That means that if you want to decorate your new home to look like a pirate ship, you can most definitely find a skull-and-crossbones flag selling for cheap on Taobao.

Do you have any other tips for furnishing a home on a budget? Share them with us in the comments!

Purchase this article for republication.

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