January mortgage update: How long does it take to furnish your house?

Last month (December):

Balance: $87,234.63
Years left: 7.083333
P = $863.05, I =$351.35, Escrow = 621.66

This month (January):

Balance: $85,701.59
Years left: 6.916666667
P = $869.10, I =$345.30, Escrow = 621.66

One month savings:  $2.62

Most Christmases I don’t tell DH what I want and he comes up with something thoughtful and often whimsical that he pays for out of his own allowance and not the family funds.  This Christmas I was feeling the pinch of the expectation of him leaving his job at the end of the year.  So deep down I wanted to repurpose some of his allowance for things we needed (that’s my selfish thought).  Also, there’s been something that’s been annoying me slightly for six+ years and mindful of our post on fixing minor annoyances, I figured that would make a great Christmas present from DH to me.

Several years ago we bought a house that has an open floor plan.  DH had visions of working in the kitchen while future children played in full view in the great room, or did their homework on the counter in the informal kitchen next to the sink.

For the first year we couldn’t afford furniture for the great room.  In the second year we didn’t have time to shop for any so we put our dining room set in the great room and made the dining room into a second or third playroom.  In the third year we realized that if we broke up our living room set from our old apartment back in graduate school, not only would it furnish both the living room and the great room, but I would also stop walking into the loveseat at night during nocturnal water missions.

In year one, after a few months of salary, we bought a w/d set.  We bought 6 bookcases on a close-out sale and a really cheap guest bed.  We saved up and bought a really nice Amish chair and a less nice glider (that I don’t use but the mother’s helpers love) and one of those Stokke Trip Traps and eventually a desk for the guest bedroom.  Year two we bought an Amish filing cabinet.  It is the prettiest thing in our house.  Year three we bought pictures for the walls.  Year four brought DH a new desk chair and DC got a desk.  Year five we got another two bookcases (which cost more than the original 6!) and a chest of drawers for DC2.

And now, for year six, we finally have bar stools.  Two of them.  So that the DCs can sit up at the counter while we’re in the kitchen and work on their homework.  Not that that’s ever going to happen because DC1 is training to work in the kitchen too and prefers doing homework on the living room floor, and DC2 had many years before sitting up on the bar stool is safe.  But you know, the dream is no longer an impossibility.

I think that’s it.  After 6 and a half years of living in this house, we finally have bought all the furniture that we think it needs.  Sure, DC2 may need a desk of hir own one of these days, and there’s always the possibility of buying more bookcases.  Some day my graduate school paste-board desk may finally fall apart.  And my MIL is slowly replacing our vertical blinds.  But for the most part, we’re set.

And it only took 6+ years of living here.

When folks move into a new place and go into credit card debt to furnish it… I don’t understand.  The place will get furnished eventually, and without taking on debt.  (And hey, for the couple that has to get/give Christmas presents but doesn’t know what to ask for each year… furnishing the house can provide years of ideas…)

How long did it take to furnish the place where you live?  Did you do it all at once or in drips and drabs?  Where did you get things?

28 Responses to “January mortgage update: How long does it take to furnish your house?”

  1. NoTrustFund Says:

    I know you have some big changes coming up this year cash flow wise but I cannot believe how quickly your mortgage balance is shrinking. Obviously I get the math, but it’s still really fun to see.

    We’ve lived in our house almost six months. We bought living room furniture right away but just the basics- things still look a little sparse. We also bought a new kitchen table and beds for our oldest and us although or oldest just had a matress on the floor right now. Our dining room set is a table and chairs I bought at Target while in grad school and thought I’d be done with it 7 or 8 years ago but still seem to have. We set money aside when we moved to buy something but haven’t really looked that hard and right now I’m more into paying off our mortgage.

    I like things to look nice but don’t love all the time it takes to find things I like. We’ll probably slowly start buying more now we no longer have an infant and have a better idea of what we want. But maybe not.

    I also do not understand the credit card debt. Our kids loved the empty rooms while we had them and we even had a big party before our living room furniture arrived and no one cared. Or at least no one said anything about it to us directly…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Next year I think we’ll be prepaying $163.94 each month, or whatever it takes to get a round number on the check after the escrow has been figured in. So there will be some progress, but much slower. Unless we recast, we’re throwing quite a bit at principal each month just from the regular payment since we’re pretty far along.

      Still, 7 years is a long time left.

  2. plantingourpennies Says:

    We’ve been in our house 3.5 years and after getting a coffee table this summer, it’s finally more furnished than unfurnished. But a lot of it’s old stuff that we’re planning on refinishing someday.

    Have you read any of Dan Ariely’s books? I forget which one it’s in, but he talks about how as humans we quickly adapt to new changes, so if we’re doing something big like furnishing a house, we get much more enjoyment out of it the longer you spread it out because we adapt little by little after adding each piece rather than one big adaptation if you buy everything at once.

  3. gwinne Says:

    Interesting. I think my house was mostly furnished in the first year we lived here. I needed actual office furniture, and we had a porch that required seating. My mom bought us bar stools for the kitchen. Yup, that’s it, other than the bed LG eventually got. BUT we’ve still got a lot of that grad-school era stuff (a coffee table, most of the bookcases, TV stand, the rattiest chair on the history of the planet [covered by a blanket]) and the other furniture (my bedroom set, the couch, the dining table) I bought during my first year on the tenure track. That is, I need to start replacing some things, whether or not we move to a larger home in the next year or so…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Our back porch still doesn’t have seating. We do have a card table and folding chair we sometimes put out. We’re not really sure what we want there if anything. (The cats seem to like it as is, and the card table works better for grading than a couch would.) We do have a hammock.

      Much of our furniture is grad school vintage, but I figure it can wait to be replaced until after the kids are less destructive, unless it gets actually destroyed first.

      • Calee Says:

        We bought more furniture than we should have when we bought our house, but we bought as cheaply as possible. Now with a 5 yr and a 2 yr old running around, we’re thankful that nothing is “too-nice.” I think our couches will need to be replaced in 4 or 5 years and hopefully the kids will be significantly less destructive then.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Surely they must get less destructive, right?

  4. Debbie M Says:

    Mostly, my roommates have brought their own furniture. And old friends have given me their castoffs. We currently have more furniture than we can use, but if my roommate (also long-term boyfriend) leaves, I will be back to sleeping on a sleeping bag (on a yoga mat in a carpeted room) because my old bed didn’t store well. I have a nice dresser (found next to a dumpster). And more bookshelves than I need (because the last two gigantic ones my boyfriend built stay with the house). And what more could you really need?

    But also have two dining room tables and one chair. And a bench/coffee table built by a carpenter ex-boyfriend and a Deacon’s bench built by my mom. Plus a desk and chair I bought.

    Virtually all roommates bring their own couch, so I’ve learned not to buy that. The one time I lived alone, I did invest in a nice patio chair (which has since broken) and used the benches for living room seating.

    When I bought this house, I had to buy a refrigerator, but I got one cheap from a co-worker. When that broke two years later, I bought a new one which I still have 11 years later. When the oven broke we got one of those fancy gas ovens built in the ’50s, which is still going strong. I also got a washer (new I think) farily early on, which has since died and been replaced by my boyfriend’s. We now want to replace perfectly working appliances with a bigger fridge with the freezer on the bottom and a front-loading washer, and I’ve just about decided to start looking for those used because I think it would be cheaper to do that (if possible) than to wait until these break down.

    In sum, I’ve resisted the whole urge to fill my own place with new furniture, but then I never got married and had kids either, so the normal time you do that didn’t happen to me.

  5. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    We’ve been living in our place for eight years, and we are still dickeing around with furniture and whattenotte.

  6. GMP Says:

    We have been in our house since January 2006, so basically 7 years. It is still not completely furnished. We also have an open plan, in that from the kitchen you see the family room (that one is furnished, big TV, sofa, armchair, coffee table, nice rug, a book shelf), and the living room and dining room. The latter two are completely unfurnished, and, since they are connected, they serve as one huge play room. we have lots if toys, an elaborate indoor basketball set, a small slide, some cute chairs for the kids and the kids’ TV and DVD player. These still have carpet, the plan is to buy furniture once the rug rats are no longer on the floor all the time. We eat in the kitchen for now, but since there is 5 of us now we will likely just buy a big dining table and reclaim the dining room for the original purpose. We have 4 bedrooms of which one is sort of a gym, but should be converted to a guest bedroom this summer. Hub and my bedroom is bare bones, I am wondering if we will ever get a bedroom set like grown ups. We also have an office with wall-to-wall bookshelf and we all gave good desks and chairs (hub, me, eldest son), we probably need to get a set for middle boy. I am hoping we will be mostly furnished by the time eldest goes to college (5.5 yrs). But maybe not. As a commenter above said, I want nice stuff but who has the time to do all that shopping?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’ve been gradually moving things into our bedroom as our other rooms get replaced by kids’ furniture. So now we have bookcases and a chest of drawers. We also re-purposed one of our end tables to put a lamp on, another move that helps me not bark my shins in the living room in the middle of the night.

    • Debbie M Says:

      I think a basketball set, a TV, and especially a slide count as furniture.

  7. bookishbiker Says:

    I’m moving into my first house (!) next weekend and am realizing it’s going to take a loooong time before it’s furnished. I have a bed but no dresser (last place had a built-in); a desk, some living/dining room stuff. Nothing for the guest room or family room, which shall sit empty at first. I’m planning to make a list and check it off as time & cash allows. I can’t picture doing a massive furniture run – I’d rather spread it out!

  8. spiffi Says:

    I’ve been in my house for 2 years now. When I first moved in, I owned a bed, 2 dressers, 2 night tables, and a chaise lounge (instead of a couch). Oh, and and Ikea “lack” side table!

    When I moved in, I had to buy a fridge and a washer/dryer. I put the tv on one of my nightstands in the living room, had the chaise,and ikea table in the living room, and a tv tray folding table as my laptop table.

    I found the perfect coffee table on craigslist in my second month.

    After about 4 months, I found a couch that I liked. A couple months later, I bought a dining room table/chair set – spent too much on it, but had grand plans of using it for all kinds of crafts as well as eating at it – but as a single person, I tend to eat in front of the tv, so it hasn’t gotten much use!

    I bought a new bed frame a couple months before my first year anniversary – I knew I wanted it, and it was on sale – I still haven’t bought a mattress for it :)

    Since then I haven’t bought any new furniture really – I have a $15 pine shelving unit for my tv, instead of my night table, and I found a couple lamps for the living room and bedroom on craigslist.

    Eventually, I’ll want a night stand for the guest bedroom, and I’d like to get something better for my tv stand that has more storage – but it’s not urgent.

    Mostly, my spare cash goes to prepaying the mortgage :)

  9. J Liedl Says:

    If it weren’t for hand-me-downs (like our dining room hutch and Eldest’s bedroom set) we’d still be a long way from furnished. Bought our first house in 1994 and we already had some pieces after years of renting but many rooms were half empty until around, what, 1999?

    We’re pretty good now after buying a real dining set and living room pieces in the year after we moved into our newest house. Nothing looks fancy but teens and pets are tough on furniture so why put money into something that’ll be ruined?

  10. chacha1 Says:

    We’ve been buying furniture from the get-go. When I hooked up with DH, he was renting one room in a house, and I had just been cleaned out by an ex. I had a TV, a bunch of beads, a cat, and a zillion cartons of books. I think the very first thing DH and I bought was a small three-legged table from a street vendor in Venice (CA), painted with a Rousseau-esque pair of jaguars.

    When he moved in to my one-bedroom apartment, he brought a convertible futon which became our bed, one of those 5×5 IKEA grid shelves, a metal desk salvaged from a UCLA renovation … that’s essentially it.

    The next thing we bought was, I think, a refrigerator (which we still have 14 years later). Then an old-fashioned rolltop desk from a consignment store; this served as a desk AND a dresser (six drawers!) for a long time.

    Next came an Aero mattress which served as our couch, a folding wood card table (which we still have) and a couple of chairs – one a cool old spindle-back desk chair from a UCLA office, and one a rosewood corner chair which started our Chinese furniture collection. Then, a small cabinet to hold the TV, and a couple of those folding wood bookcases.

    After we married, we moved to an apartment one room larger, bought a Chinese platform bed, and turned the futon into our couch. Added a few more folding bookcases, and a vintage Chinese lacquer cabinet.

    Two years later, we moved to a much bigger apartment (the one we’re still in) and went on multi-year spree. Yes, we did use credit cards. By this time we were 38 and 45, and we wanted an adult life, and we were able to leverage it. We bought a dining table for ten, started hosting dinner parties, and started collecting closed storage pieces.

    The folding bookcases and the rolltop desk long ago were re-homed to friends, also a Mexican highboy that served as our pantry for a long time. We still have the futon and the IKEA shelf. :-)

  11. oilandgarlic Says:

    I think it took us at least 6-7 years to fully furnished our house. This was a rental so it was a bit easier to have the money since I didn’t also have a mortgage and didn’t just put down a big down payment. Most of my houseowning friends need to recover a bit from the big purchase before buying furniture and then they also have to spend money on non-fun essentials like roofing, heating, a/c, etc..

    I think it was good that we spread out expenses though, because our taste changed dramatically over the past few years (for the better!) and if we had bought everything at once, we would have hated many of the choices. Plus as you live in a place, you discover what you need and what works in that space. I’m a bit of a decor/design junkie too so decision paralysis often happens as I debate options!

  12. bogart Says:

    Late to the conversation, but I was away. Travelling! For fun! It was. Being back is good too (truly, though the weather here needs work).

    Were I inclined to complain (I’m not), I might argue that moving into a house containing my new husband and the old furniture he and his prior wife had previously purchased together (not to mention the children they created together) was justification for buying new furniture. In fact, it wasn’t (I did paint the front door an outlandish color, really my only dramatic space-claiming maneuver. And not an entirely conscious one, either. But not entirely not so, either. And cheap!). So we had furniture acquired heavens-knows-how (I really was never interested in discussing his furniture history) and have replaced it piecemeal ever since (~1.5 decades in and counting). We have bought new a recliner for DH (Christmas gift), 6 chairs, 6 barstools (both cheap, for better or for worse. Also, note to self: don’t buy spinning barstools for use where a child will live), and a king bed to replace our double (inexpensive, but well made by a local, and equipped with a mattress handed down from my mother’s household). I think that’s it: other pieces have been castoffs, except a living-room suite we bought used from a family member.

    Pieces have worn out, and I want more furniture, and better furniture (or perhaps simply furniture that’s in better shape). But the kid is still little, and I want to remodel the other half of the house, and there’s no sense in buying new furniture before we do that, now is there? So, we are steady state for now.

  13. Rosa Says:

    I think…8 years? A lot of stuff just kind of happened (picked up a cherry dining table for free, couches appeared with roomates, found an excellent desk on the curb, a friend’s mom offered us an old TV…) I did buy a lot of bookshelves and bureaus at garage sales, and we had a roomate who made things.

    But we started buying big furniture about 5 years in, after we had the kid – we needed a firmer mattress for cosleeping, then my mom gave us her china and we needed a hutch for it, the TV stand looked likely to kill kiddo when he was cruising around the living room, so we got a closeable cabinet (new! First piece of new furniture I ever bought), then his clothes & books were taking up too much space so we got a cubby bookshelf from Ikea…I think it took about 3 years, after that first purchase.

  14. Friday recap, a loving turkey and a big check! Says:

    [...] How long does it take to furnish your house? – Nicole and Maggie [...]

  15. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I’ve inherited a huge chunk of the furniture in my house. Actually, I think I have inherited every single piece with the exception of the beds in the boys room and the toy shelves in the play room. The sofas were inherited. The coffee table and end table were a gift from mom. The fish tank was inherited. The entertainment center and the book case inherited. The dining table and chairs and buffet, inherited. The desk, inherited. The filing cabinet, inherited. My daughter’s entire bedroom set was mine when I was a kid. Oh the bookshelf in there, I bought. The dresser and nightstand in the boys room, inherited. And the bookshelf too. My bed, inherited. My dresser, inherited. The antique writing desk, inherited. The nightstands were end tables my mom used to have, so inherited. The lamps, inherited.

    Hmmmm… not sure how I feel about this….

  16. sarah Says:

    easy solution: we bought a 900 square foot house, and had to get rid of furniture to move into it.


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