Written by: Phindile Le Bris Sithole-Spong
It is always so exciting when you have to furnish your home for the very first time. You usually have dreams of how you want to live, how you want your home to look, how you want it to feel, and the kinds of memories you want to build in that home. This is usually all good until you realize just how much work it is to furnish your home. Making your home resemble what you consider your ‘dream home' is time-consuming and financially straining. What I learned about furnishing two houses is that no amount of money can buy style and character (which is usually essential to transform your house into your dream home). While being able to buy everything brand new may seem more manageable and the quickest option, there is still something to be said about buying second-hand home goods.
With renovation expenses piling up and bills to pay, our second home has taken some time to furnish, unlike our first home. Over a year in, we are still not done because we have been sourcing most of our furniture and home goods from second-hand stores, streets vendors and even home goods from friends. As a homebody who loves having a peaceful place to call home, it has taken some adjusting to accept that things won't happen in a flash and that our home will take some time to finalize. Furnishing our second home has taught us so much about how we actually live in our space rather than how we think we live in our space. In other words, I have been able to reflect on the space we have in both our homes, and I have been able to internalize how to use this space in the most beneficial ways. This experience has also taught us how to spend more consciously, knowing exactly how and where to use the items bought rather than how we think they will or should be used. It has also allowed us to find one of a kind pieces that no one else has in their homes—some of which I see moving with us to our various homes in the future.
However, the most important lesson from the whole process has been around waste and quality. While most ‘fast furniture' places are very good at making you feel like you need X and Y furniture or home goods. The truth is, in time, those items ware out (and fast at that). This means that you have to replace them more often, unlike older solid pieces that wear beautifully and don't need changing that often. Furthermore, unless you are lucky enough to have an endless budget, the reality is that an Ikea type shop might be your go-to, but based on my experience, I would suggest that you think of how you want to live and how long such the item to last before making such a purchase. After that, try looking at second-hand or charity shops for alternatives. Not only will you get time to think through your purchase, but you may also be lucky enough to find something more budget-friendly than the fast furniture item you were about to buy. And if it is that exact Ikea piece you want or needs, then look at second-hand shopping platforms like a Facebook marketplace for gently used modern (and older) items. Trust me, you will thank me later. And you can rest a little easier knowing that you are doing your part for the environment.
While we may think waste only happens with clothes and food. The stark reality I have recently become aware of is that, in actual fact, waste happens in every area of life, from food to clothes and even big-ticket items like furniture. So if you are updating your current place or recently moved to a new home, I highly recommend that you buy second-hand or, if you are handy, find ways to repurpose pieces you already have.