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Outfitting a flat from scratch - can it be done cheaply without crappy quality?

(35 Posts)
fridgepants Sun 24-Feb-13 12:40:00

DP and I are looking at renting a flat together, and we've realised that if we go for unfurnished, it widens our options considerably. The downside is that we will have to buy all the furniture - which is a big chunk of money upfront.

Would it be wise for us to just pick the cheapest stuff IKEA sell, or is there a sweet spot when it comes to balancing cost and quality there?

We know of charity furniture stores in the area (moving to a different part of London from the one I'm in now) and Free cycle, but as neither of us drive we are working on the principle that we will have to buy everything new in order to work out costs.

fridgepants Sun 24-Feb-13 12:41:23

I reckon minimum we need would be:

chest of drawers x2
table (we play boardgames and this is something we really want in our flat)

BrianButterfield Sun 24-Feb-13 12:46:51

IKEA isn't necessarily crappy quality - they do a wooden table and chairs set for about £99 which looks perfectly fine to me. Of course keep a look out for second hand but I agree that's not so straightforward when you don't drive, although some charity shops deliver. Argos furniture is also much improved IMO and they do cheap pine bedroom furniture - I would recommend trying to buy wooden if you can because you can always paint it or whatever in the future, and it seems to hold up better than melamine stuff.

FellatioNels0n Sun 24-Feb-13 12:48:58

Some IKEA stuff is excellent quality and great value for money. Some of it is shit, and will serve a purpose for a while but is best treated as temporary/disposable.

Ebay is your friend here. If you do your research you can get some excellent quality, excellent condition stuff, very very cheaply on Ebay.

Floralnomad Sun 24-Feb-13 12:57:34

Personally I'd rather have ikea / argos new than better quality second hand but that's just me . Harvey's do very reasonably priced sofas and Ikea stuff does last well .

fridgepants Sun 24-Feb-13 12:58:10

I have heard that its wise to ignore the cheapest thing IKEA sell and always go for the next one up...

NannyR Sun 24-Feb-13 13:02:29

I did this last year, I bought everything from ikea and so far I'm very happy with the quality. I think I spent around £1200 and got sofa, table and four chairs, whole wall of billy bookcases, bed, mattress, drawers and pax wardrobes, expedit shelving and desk.

AlwaysReadyForABlether Sun 24-Feb-13 13:02:55

I think with Ikea stuff a lot comes down to how well you put it together. So if you take your time and do a good job - and possibly glue joints etc as well as using the fixings provided then it should last.

Fallenangle Sun 24-Feb-13 13:04:27

At Ikea you can see the furniture and assess its quality before you buy. You can't do that at argos, you have to rely on reviews. Do not scrimp on your mattress. Ikea mattresses are a slightly different size to standard ones so be careful about mix and match.

lemontwist Sun 24-Feb-13 13:07:55

Most things in our house have been bought from auction. There is an auctioneers that hold an antiques and home furniture sale every two weeks. They put their catalogue online with approximate valuations on so can check beforehand to see if we'd like anything.
We've had all our bedroom furniture from there, all solid wood and very good quality and also had things like our tumble dryer. All pretty cheap, quite fun to go and bid and if things go above our price range just try again another time.
Its worth checking if there is something similar local to you. Ours does a fairly reasonable delivery service too.

WishIdbeenatigermum Sun 24-Feb-13 13:08:12

Ikea is definitely better quality than Argos, but delivery's more complicated- can be great if you can take it home y

Fallenangle Sun 24-Feb-13 13:09:11

Oh, and look out for internet clearance stuff from the likes of Sainsburys M&S and John Lewis, you will get it delivered too. Avoid Debenhams , their service if something is damaged is apalling.

WishIdbeenatigermum Sun 24-Feb-13 13:09:48

Yourself. You may be surprised at what friends and family want to offload on you.
Emmaus and British Heart Foundation stock good quality second hand furniture.

ihearsounds Sun 24-Feb-13 13:37:42

Ikea is a lot better than argos. Ive had stuff from argos that hasn't lasted a year, and some of it wasn't cheap. Yet I've got stuff from ikea that's 14+ years old.
I don't drive, but look on ebay as you can get deals for man and van for ikea.
You also have free cycle and gum tree for the basics, as a temp solution while you save.
Sofa, go to independent furniture stores. Friend bought a massive (8 seater) corner leather unit for less than £600, over a grand elsewhere.

FellatioNels0n Sun 24-Feb-13 14:00:06

If budget flatpack stuff is all you can stretch to then IKEA is streets ahead of places like Argos and B&Q for quality. But you still have to be realistic. If a table is 20 quid it's probably not going to be great. If it's eighty quid it could be fabulous.

catlady1 Sun 24-Feb-13 14:09:22

If you're not bothered about second hand it is definitely worth looking at charity shops and furniture projects as well as second hand or discount furniture shops. They do tend to have a lot of crap but they also have some good stuff.

I don't think any of the furniture in our flat was bought new or full price. Our sofa and armchair and bed, wardrobe and drawers we were very lucky with, someone we knew bought them new to furnish a flat he was moving into but then ended up moving in with his partner and sold them to us very cheap. Our hallway table and bathroom cabinets we were given by family, fridge freezer is from freecycle, and our cooker and washer were ex-display models that we got for half price. Our TV stand and display cabinet in the sitting room are from a furniture project thingy, we also got a table and chairs and a computer desk from the same place but gave them away because we don't really have the space. It's all great condition and looks fine together.

If you're crafty, you could always buy second hand and then repaint/reupholster furniture and really make it your own for a small price.

Oodsigma Sun 24-Feb-13 14:33:34

We have the cheapest ikea dining table & 4 chairs ( can't remember its name) and its survived 7 years in a building site/3 children/ house move and doesn't look too rough. We were going to replace it but are now holding off to save up

JulesJules Sun 24-Feb-13 14:42:17

I think Ikea stuff is great. When we moved into our house from a small flat, we needed loads of stuff and got nearly all of it from Ikea. I think I spent the first few months building flat pack furniture. I found the quality is higher than a lot of other retailers and a lot better value - we had a wardrobe from Next, for example, that was pants, and a chest of drawers from Argos which was fine, but much more expensive than Ikea.

EnjoyResponsibly Sun 24-Feb-13 14:49:34

I second that the crucial point to IKEA flat pack is taking the time to assemble it properly. I've got stuff dating 15 years and 3 house moves because DF worked his patient magic, counted all the bits and had a range of Phillips screwdrivers smile.

I've also had a settee from IKEA for 15 years. It's lovely and the quality is great. I think I paid about £400 for it, supplemented it with a couple of cheaper chairs and voila!

They often have good sales for end and coffee tables too-I bought end tables for £5 in the summer.

And you can't beat their kitchen stuff. Looks good, functional and great value.

Corygal Sun 24-Feb-13 14:49:48

Don't forget the joy of junk renovation, which is the last thing you will feel like after humping your stuff around, let me tell you, but... a chest of drawers for a fiver from the chazza, plus some white paint and new knobs cheap on ebay can get you properly nice, good quality, interesting furniture that lasts.

I've done it, and I am clinically clumsy, but it really does work and costs pennies not hundreds of quid.

EnjoyResponsibly Sun 24-Feb-13 14:50:50

Our British Heart foundation often has good wardrobes, dining tables and chairs too.

You can sand them down and paint them.

Scootee Sun 24-Feb-13 14:55:03

Ikea is great quality (and style) as long as you shop carefully there. They do have some stuff which is total shite. I am sitting in a room with 2 ikea chairs which I bought over 10 years ago and they still look very nice.

I don't like Argos at all for furniture, ikea far superior.

Leafmould Sun 24-Feb-13 15:04:14

What do you mean by cheap?

I would go to the nearest auction. As long as you are not needing all the stuff immediately you will be able to pick up good quality stuff far cheaper than ikea.

howcomes Tue 26-Feb-13 02:19:29

Go to ikea for a decent mattress and sofa and perhaps the bed frame too, then source out the remainder at charity shops, sales, eBay etc etc as you can, ime anyway, fit most of the other things in a black cab - wardrobes might be tricky I admit!

Best to spend time finding something you really like for the right price then have to effectively buy something twice, ie just buying cheap for now and replacing it later.

I'd rather buy soft furnishings new to avoid dealing with unexpected extras such as bed bugs or fleas but will happily trawl thru charity shops, auctions, gum tree and so on for the rest.

florencerose Tue 26-Feb-13 02:32:56


they frequently have stuff that is as good as new, my understanding is that they will deliver for a fee.

I was told they do electricals and have great deals on TVs

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