New Home: Reality Check On Furnishing Costs


The stats aren’t great. In today’s dollars, new home owners will spend between 12% & 30% of their new home’s purchase price filling and furnishing that new home, from window coverings to rugs to furniture, and this number does not take into account refurbishing a bath or two!

I had a financial professional call me in once to look at his new dream home; a spacious, 6,000 sqare foot $1.2 million dollar home. He wanted me to design his partially furnished enormous master bedroom; an empty living room, an empty dining room and an empty family room – the family room alone had 5 massively tall windows and the dining room had 4 if you counted the French doors. His budget for furnishings, window coverings, rugs, paint services, & design services was $60,000.   His wife showed me photos of what she liked. She did not have entry level taste. Although $60K is a lot of money, I didn’t see how that budget would cover his project scope and he became ornery when I delicately told him so.

Be careful when you are house shopping and calculating your post move in costs.

Be careful of your cost calculations when upsizing

Upsizing means larger rooms, and more and often larger windows. Custom window coverings can add up and become a substantial expense. Upsizing means you’re going to have too little furniture, like my friend noted above. Upsizing also means that the furniture you do have is going to look like doll house furniture in its new abode so you’ll be replacing more than you think.

Be careful of your cost calculations when you are downsizing

Again, custom window covers for all your new windows adds up. Downsizing means that in all likelihood, much of your furniture will be too large for your smaller rooms. You’ll be replacing more than you think.

Also add to this mix, what’s your taste level? Do you like entry level & priced furniture like Pottery Barn or Ikea? Do you prefer mid-level/cost stuff at Restoration or Ethan Alan? Or instead, do you drool over Pinterest, Houzz and design magazines? If it’s the latter then let me tell you that you like top shelf “to the trade goods” known as best made furniture, where 84” sofas start at $3,900 and quickly go up from there – $4300, $5400, $6,000…and up.   Let’s talk about dining rooms at this level – the chairs are $1800 -$2200…each. Want 8 chairs? You just spent $15,000-$18,000 just on dining room chairs.

Be realistic in your planning

Buy less house, or, slow up your project time line, or, put less down and preserve more money for the furnishings and filling your new casa.

But don’t shoot the messenger like my financial friend above wanted to do when I looked at him and told him his window coverings budget alone could eat up 40% of his total project budget.

Design is a numbers game. Furniture is expensive to make and it’s expensive to ship. Services add up. Windows have to be dealt with.   Budget is the Queen of Design because she determines everything that can and cannot happen in design. Don’t ignore her as you house hunt.

Be savvy when you house shop

Be honest with yourself; what is it that you want – will you enjoy rattling around in that big house unfurnished for 8 years? Are you willing to trade down on your furniture quality? There are no easy answers. But sticking your head in the sand never works well either. Plus…you’ll track sand into the new house…what fun is that?….

Call in help, like a design professional. Or do budget research yourself. But be wise and calculated.