A Smart Way to Play Interior Designer When Moving

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. Read our disclosure to see how we make money.

The following is a contribution from Kira at the Planwise Blog. 

It can be great fun to page through Sunset Magazine and imagine yourself sitting in front of a Tuscan coffee table reading a book with vineyards stretching over the hillside just outside your window. Wait a minute; I live in San Francisco and that coffee table probably costs more than I make in a month. Couches, shelving, coffee tables, arm chairs; the list goes on of things one needs to furnish an apartment or house. Making a house into a home can be quite the pricey task, especially when moving into a new place.

Making a Few Walls and a Roof into a Home


My boyfriend and I recently moved into a new apartment. As anyone who has moved lately remembers, the costs add up. Deposit, credit check, moving van, and more expenses can blow the lid off a moving budget fast. In the months leading up to our move I began to set aside money and cut back my day-to-day spending to save up for moving expenses.

Since neither of us had much in the way of furniture, we were basically starting from scratch. Our weeks are mostly full with work, so we conquered the task of furnishing our apartment one weekend at a time.

Step by Step


The first weekend after moving, we made our way to Ikea – the mecca of affordable quality furniture. Ikea is a really good place to start due to the seemingly unlimited variation in color, size, and styles of furnishings that they carry.

Since the first step in making a new place feel like home when moving is to unpack all of the boxes, we focused on shelving sets, dressers, and wardrobe organizers during this first trip. We came out with some amazing shelving in exactly the color and size that we had envisioned.

We dedicated the following weekend to the kitchen. Let me tell you, when budgeting is a priority it is hard to eat healthy while eating out every meal of the day for a whole week, especially when you are tired from moving! We found some great pantry shelving at The Container Store, which surprisingly felt rather similar to Ikea’s DIY design.

The chef’s chopping block countertop is an ideal addition to our particularly small kitchen, and serves as an extension of the kitchen. The silver industrial style accentuates the modern decor we have decided on for the apartment. My neighborhood hardware store ended up to be the perfect place to find additional lights, contact paper for lining the cupboard, and miscellaneous essentials.

After we set up our kitchen, the next step was selecting a dining set. Larger furniture items can range in price towards easily over $1,000, and dining sets are no exception.  This is where I get to the inevitable Craigslist review. Craigslist can be a great resource, however keep in mind you might have to filter through some, for lack of a better word, junk. Sometimes, finding what you’re looking for can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack.

When using Craigslist, you don’t have the luxury searching by color, style, or size but you can search by specifics. I always filter my search results by ‘low price,’ in order to see the cheapest listings first. Many of the dining tables didn’t come with chairs, or were only selling chairs for $40 a piece.

After only two or three days of checking up on the new posts on Craigslist, I found a very nice, dark mahogany, gently-used dining set with four chairs only for $60 total. I sent out an email, and within 24 hours I was pulling up in front of the gorgeous home of the friendly couple who were selling me their dining set.

Big Purchases on a Budget


The endeavor of furnishing my entire apartment in one or two weeks would have massively thrown my budget off track.  By spacing the task out over the course of a month (who am I kidding, it’s going to be two months before we are completely set up with art on the walls), I was able to allocate my money into weekly spending.

Splitting the costs with my boyfriend, of course also helps. At times I wished that we could simply have the bedroom, kitchen, dining room, and living room all set up at once, but for such a time and money-hungry task as moving I’m glad that we took it step by step.

Editor’s note: Kira offers some great advice on how to keep your costs under control when making a move. Having moved more times than I can count in my life, I reiterate Kira’s advice to have a moving budget and do as much as you can yourself to save you money.

Have you moved recently? Looking back how did you save money while moving? What will you do differently on your next move?


Kira writes for the Planwise Blog about her experiences as a young adult in San Francisco finding new ways to be thrifty.


Photography for this post provided by Neil Favila

The following two tabs change content below.

John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

Latest posts by John Schmoll (see all)