The faint whiff of fresh paint and construction dust hits your nose as you step into your freshly renovated flat. Today is the first time you are stepping into your new home after handing over the keys to the interior designer (ID). Wait, why is the house empty? Your walls, floors and fittings are perfectly done but where is the sofa, bed and dining set? “You didn’t budget for furnishings and the renovation contract didn’t include furnishing,” says your ID.
While this is an unlikely nightmare scenario, it is not entirely farfetched for new homeowners to realise that their budget for their new home may not be as adequate as they initially thought. While most people have a clear budget for buying their HDB flat, it is easy to be caught up in the excitement of realising our dream home and overspend on renovation and furnishing.
The cost of furnishing your HDB flat can differ greatly from person to person. Whether you are a new homeowner or tenant moving into an unfurnished flat, we calculate how much furnishing an entire HDB flat from scratch would cost.
Difference Between Renovation And Furnishing
In general, renovation refers to the fittings and fixtures of the house; things that cannot be moved. Furnishings refers to furniture and fittings that can be removed. Depending on your arrangement with your ID or contractor, as well as the amount of built-in carpentry done, there can be a significant overlap between your renovation and furnishings.
Likewise, if you are renting an unfurnished apartment, the availability of white goods (such as a refrigerator and washing machine) is dependent on the landlord.
For this article, we are assuming that we are furnishing a 4-room HDB flat with only basic built-in carpentry (i.e. kitchen cabinets and master bedroom wardrobe).
Starting with the bedroom, the most obvious piece of furniture we would need is the bed. In most cases, we would have included built-in wardrobes as part of our renovation, thus saving the need to purchase freestanding closets.
For the absolute minimalists, a bed and some form of clothes storage will be sufficient. For others, a place to put our bedside items and an area for dressing up may be needed.
Bed (frame and mattress)
From $599, Bed and Mattress Bundle, from Shopee to over $5,000 for Simmons Mattress and Bedframe.
Around $1,000 for PAX 4-door wardrobe from IKEA.
From $20, from Shopee
Dressing table and chair
From $100, from Shopee to around $1,500 from Harvey Norman
Study/ Home Office
With work-from-home arrangements being the default during the pandemic, most of us will have to carve out a space to study or work in our house. We are assuming in this article that the second bedroom will be converted to a study room/ home office (and thus also eliminating the need for a second set of bedroom furnishing).
We are not including the cost of acquiring your laptop and other technology devices (e.g. printer, monitors, gaming set-up) as these are not furnishings for the house but part of your work or personal activities.
From $50, from Shopee to over $700 for an Omnidesk
From $30, from Shopee to over $400 for a Secretlab Omega
Storage for documents and other items
$179 for file cabinet from IKEA
Living And Dining Area
A sofa is the anchor point of the living area (along with a TV) for most households. Unless we plan to wall-mount the TV or install a screen/projector setup, we would also need a TV console. Some form of storage is also needed in the living area to keep the clutter of daily life somewhat organised.
The layout for most HDB flats also means that we enter the house directly into the living. This means that some form of shoe storage is also needed in the living room. Additionally, most flats also crave out part of the living space for a dining area
From $200, from Shopee to over $2,000 full leather sofa from Harvey Norman
From $20, from Shopee to over $200 from Courts
From $379 for 32” TV from PRISM+ to over $2,000 for over 70” TV from Courts
From $600 from Castlery
From $1,000 from Castlery
Sideboard / Storage
From $100 from FortyTwo
From $100 from HipVan
The kitchen is probably one of the most expensive areas of the house in terms of renovation and furnishing. Firstly, this is the area where we should do the most built-in carpentry work. Secondly, this is the area with the most household appliances. Refrigerator, washing machine and stove are the basics that every house should have even if you don’t cook at home.
This is also an area that costs can easily balloon with every kitchen equipment you purchase. For example, a coffee lover may want to add a Nespresso machine while an avid baker may want to add a stand mixer and oven. Every home cook has their own kitchen essentials that they cannot live without: rice cooker, microwave, air fryer, blender, food processor, ice-cream maker, toaster, water filter system and the list can go on.
If you don’t already have plates, bowls and other crockery and utensils, this can also be counted towards the cost of furnishing your kitchen.
From $500 for 200L fridge from Courts
From $400, for 7kg load washing machine from Courts
From $300, gas hob from Courts
From $300, gas hob from Courts
From $100, from Tefal
The Rest Of The House
One obvious area not yet mentioned is the bathroom/ toilet. In most cases, the fixtures (sink, toilet bowl, shower fittings) would be installed during the renovation, but items such as bathroom mirrors may not be included and count towards our furnishing cost.
Another area that is often forgotten is curtains or blinds. These can be included as part of the renovation or installed after. Household appliances such as a vacuum cleaner could also be considered part of your furnishing cost, as a relatively bigger ticket item compared to other cleaning supplies.
From $15, from Shopee
$49.90 blackout curtains from IKEA
From $150 from Harvey Norman
The Cost Of Furnishing Really Depends On Your Household Preferences and Budget
If we take the cheapest options listed above, our total cost of furnishing will come up to about $6,200. However, quality also matters. Furniture that is made from chipboard or particleboard may not last as long as solid wood. Cheap laminates or veneers may also chip easily and become unsightly. Buying the cheapest item may not be cost-effective over the long run.
A household consisting of a minimalist single is going to furnish their home very differently from a household comprising parents and two children below the age of 5. The furnishings mentioned above are typical furnishings for a typical household. You may need more or less depending on your household and lifestyle preferences.
Likewise, the price range of each item would depend very much on individual preferences and budget.
With the rise of online shopping options, price comparison is much easier than running from one showroom to another. We can even furnish our homes entirely from goods purchased online from Taobao or local online furniture stores like HipVan, FortyTwo and Castlery. IKEA could also be a one-stop-shop for all your furnishing needs. Likewise, retailers such as Courts and Harvey Norman carry both furniture and electronics for your home furnishing needs. If you are not opposed to secondhand goods, you can furnish for free or cheaply with hand-me-downs or pre-loved items from Carousell.