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By: Keith Osborne
Deciding how to furnish your new home is undoubtedly one of the most exciting parts of the homebuying process. But the reality may different to what you originally imagined - especially when you start putting pen to paper to work out your budget.

"It's tempting to splurge on contemporary furnishings and accessories," says property styler Helen Silver of The Property Styling Company (www.propertystylingcompany.co.uk). "But give yourself some time to get the feel of your new surroundings. You may have spent months drawing out on paper where you'll put the sofa and TV, or choosing colour for feature walls. But the reality is a limited budget could put paid to your original plans."

First things first - know your palette, and pick one or two simple colours to form the basis of your home's colour scheme. "Buying an expensive sofa or a dining table could be a mistake if you dislike the colour in a year's time," Helen adds. "Choose neutrally toned pieces, and add splashes of colour with bright cushions or rugs."

Asking family and friends if they've got any excess furniture to get rid of is a very good starting point. And after you've assembled a small collection of cast-offs, it's time to hit the internet. Second-hand furniture (or to give it its more glamorous pen name, "vintage") is booming, with sites like Gumtree (www.gumtree.com) and Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) featuring free key pieces, such as tables, chairs and even TVs and surround-sound systems - all potentially essential items for your new home that you can snap up for nothing except transportation costs.

If you don't find what you're looking for online, then second-hand furniture shops and charity shops can be great resources to hunt through, particularly if you're after everyday china and cutlery, glasses and picture frames.

Nowadays, you don't have to settle for the original design or hue of what you collect. PlastiKote (www.plasti-kote.co.uk) Super Spray paint is a fun way to revamp old furniture (see picture above), and can be sprayed onto most surfaces, and dries in under an hour. Available in 60 different colours and finishes, it retails at £6.95 for a 400ml can.

The bed is an area where it's best to invest - after all, you'll be spending a third of your life in it, so you may as well get comfortable. Hyder Living's Dorchester bed frame is £300 (www.hyderint.com), and is stylish and easy to style up with a funky bedspread - Curtain Wizard's range is particularly affordable (www.curtain-wizard.co.uk). Buying a new sofa is also important - Sofas World has classic design models starting from £200 (www.sofasworld.co.uk).


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http://www.whathouse.co.uk is the web portal for new homes and new affordable homes in Britain, the online face of What House?, which has promoted the best of new homes in Britain for over 100 years. Our site features hundreds of new-build homes in the UK as well as news, articles, expert advice, opinion and comment.
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