Monday, April 13, 2009

Furniture and home ownership costs

This weekend we did our first real furniture shopping. We started with a bed. We wanted to upgrade to a king-size bed, and also free up our current queen-size bed to use in the guest room. Torsten, being European and also having high-end taste, really wanted a latex mattress--those are very uncommon here in the US but more popular in Europe. However, they also cost a lot more than standard spring mattresses, so it's definitely a trade-off.

Still, after discussion we decided to go for it, because they are SO comfortable (and I agree with that after trying out Torsten's mattress in Germany), and they also last longer than spring mattresses so the added cost isn't as bad as it seems up front. So we began doing research into latex mattresses, and feeling more and more frustrated because they are all just SO expensive.

But THEN! We went into a mattress store to see a latex mattress that we'd found on their website. And it turns out, they're discontinuing it. But they had one left. In the king size. On clearance for half off. AND it was already a much more reasonable price than the other latex mattresses we'd looked at. It was an incredible bargain. And really comfy.

So, it's being delivered the day we move into the new house, which will be this Sunday. And THEN, having freed up some space in our budget by finding this amazing deal, we went looking for a bed frame. We found one we both liked, but then we could NOT agree on a wood. I liked the darker one, but Torsten felt that with the darkness of the hardwood floors, it would be too somber. He liked the more natural, lighter wood but I found it kind of childish looking and also thought it might clash with the floors.

So, we discussed with the salesperson and decided to look at some metal frames as well. And immediately found one we loved, for a good $400 less than the wood frame we'd originally selected. It will also be delivered shortly after we move in. It's made out of natural steel, and looks like this:

We just both love it. It's simple, it's pretty, it's sturdy and should last forever. It's a little edgy and different without being over the top. And it's versatile--it means we don't have to worry about finding nightstands and a dresser that match perfectly, once we get to that point.

We also bought some patio chairs, and picked out our future dining room table and chairs, which we'll buy once we've spent a few months replenishing our savings account a bit. I posted photos of all those things over on my Tumblr design blog.

And oooh, I'm totally understanding how buying a house makes you poor. We have a lot of expenses coming up. I mean, other than the obvious down payment and closing costs, plus homeowners insurance, property tax, title insurance, and the new monthly mortgage payments. We've already paid for the house and sewer inspections, and there are a few repairs we need to make to the house that we didn't ask the seller to pay for in the inspection objection.

Then there's the cost of moving, the lease-breaking penalty for our apartment (which we knew about when we signed the lease, and pretty much expected to pay, and consider reasonable, but it's still an added cost), and so many things we need to start up. Not just furniture but, like, firewood for the fireplaces--and a rack to hold it in. A washer and dryer. A microwave. A lawn mower and a snow blower. Garden tools. Trees, and the associated planting, which we would like to do as soon as possible because trees take so long to grow. Luckily the house comes with a really nice refrigerator, so that's a cost we're spared. But all that other stuff really adds up.

And that's just the basic stuff. I can totally understand how people go broke furnishing their houses, because once you've finally saved up some money after paying for all the basic stuff (and that's not counting the routine stuff that will continually go wrong and cost you money, like plumbing issues or gutter cleaning or what have you, basically whatever we renters are used to just calling the landlord to deal with instead of shelling out cold, hard cash to have it fixed), it's so tempting to spend all your hard-earned savings on lots of extras that you don't need but that would be so nice to have.

Like a hot tub. And fancy armchairs. And nice shelving. And rugs. And ART, oh god we haven't even THOUGHT about wall decor yet. And landscaping. And there are all sorts of repairs that aren't necessary but that would be nice to make--like cutting out the current driveway and repouring the cement at a gentler grade so that we don't have to worry about scraping our car on the ground every time we go in or out.

I mean, seriously, we could spend all of our money forever continually doing things to upgrade the house and the lot and the furniture. I could literally envision just upgrading forever, never having a good retirement account or money to subsidize kids' college educations. This is why you have to do things slowly. And draw the line somewhere. It's so tempting to just enter into massive debt to have a huge, fancy palace right away. But there is just no need to do that.

So for now, we'll be happy with our bed and our patio furniture, and the rest will just have to come with time.


  1. Pretty! So exciting. I like the bedframe - a good compromise, I think.

    Yes, the list literally NEVER ends. I finally broke down and made a spreadsheet by room of all the things we wanted to do, just to get it out of my head. It's fun to cross things off as we go, even if they're little things like "Mirror for living room".

    Have fun!

  2. You two are smart, so I know you'll approach this whole home ownership thing with your heads screwed on right. One thing to also think about is having some "reserves" for when things go wrong (because they will go wrong). In condo associations, they set aside a certain amount of money each month, so when the roof needs to be repaired or an unanticipated rodent problem occurs, they have money on hand to pay for it. Not a bad idea for home owners to do the same thing. Sweets and I have a perceived minimum we'd never want our savings to dip below ... for those exact situations.

  3. I dig the frame but cannot wrap my head around a latex mattress. I feel like it would be sleeping on plastic! I believe you if you say it's comfortable, but still...

  4. Love the bed! Furnishing a house is definitely expensive. I've been a home owner for almost 5 years and still don't have a dining room table. We've only had a bedroom set for a little over a year!
    Houses find a way to need money spent on them all the time. lol
    I have a list a mile long of stuff I want to do to the house. Someday, waaaaaay in the future, maybe it will be done. heh

  5. I love metal bedframes. If I had to do it all over again I would totally go for metal frames this time. They're not quite as heavy-looking either, which is key.

    I love house decorating, but yes, it is so expensive. Let's hope you don't have to fix anything in your new house either, that's a drain.

    Wow, moving this Sunday! Crazy!

  6. Very exciting! Yeah, we pretty much have a long list of things we want to do with our house, too. It's never-ending!

  7. I completely feel your pain. We haven't bought a place yet, but once we do, we also have to go ape shit trying to furnish it. I'm half looking forward to it, but I do fear for the old bank account. Poor thing.

  8. I KNOW. Every new house should come with a money tree in the front yard, don't you think?

    I love that bedframe. I am also thinking of the perpetual bruise I would have from bumping into those corners.

    Which compels me to dispense advice, and oh God I hate advice givers, except that: if you're thinking about having kids soonish (next few years) factor them in when choosing furniture. Not that you have to babyproof your house before they even get there, but that giant and gorgeous glass-topped coffee table will not be so awesome when smothered in sticky handprints and teeth marks. I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE.

  9. We have a latex mattress and we LOVE it. No noise, and a warranty for 20 years. It's amazing and SO comfortable.

  10. I really like the bed.

    And I completely feel your pain about the cost of homeownership. It gets really depressing sometimes. And it's why a lot of people (i.e. ME) do sometimes end up buying not so quality furniture and art, or buying secondhand stuff, because otherwise you're staring at bare walls and empty rooms. Some people have patience and can see their "buying all nice stuff even if it takes ten years" plan through, but I am not one of them. I wish.

    I understand more and more why some people just rent and spend their money on vacations and clothes!

  11. Well you summed it up pretty much entirely. The expenses DO seem neverending.

    Sometimes I get frustrated looking at all the nice things my parents have, forgetting they've been married and working hard for those things for 38 years.

    Things like a washer/dryer though - could you buy cheaper ones now and upgrade in a couple years when all the baby laundry comes along for real? Oh! And those chairs sound like they will be lovely and I'm sure you've thought of this but be sure to check out getting them Scotchguarded. When we bought our current couch/love seat the extra $100 seemed like a lot but it has been SO worth it with little wandering hands and muddy shoes.

    No matter what all expenses you have, you can never go wrong with a good bed. ;)

    Happy moving!

  12. I've never heard of a latex mattress...but! You can't skimp on the bed...we bought and tempurpedic when we moved into our house! It's the best!

  13. Oooh, I like that bed frame! And must now go google 'latex beds' to further educate myself.

  14. Okay. I get jealous every time you post about buying furniture. I move every 4 months for school, so I don't even bother taping pictures to the wall anymore. I CAN. NOT. WAIT to be at a point in my life where I can nest, and settle in. I appreciate how you're showing the downsides (i.e., the costs adding up) but nothing can deter me from feeling pure pure jealousy right now.
    Also, I liked it on tumblr already, but I love that bed frame so much. You're exactly right- edgy without being weird. Ah. I want to visit your house in a few months or in a year. And then I'll move in with you (that's okay with you, right?) because it's going to be the best house ever.

  15. You pretty much summed it up in that last part. It takes time to do all those things, and you'll drive yourself crazy and broke trying to do them all at once. Take your time, but have fun with it! :-)

    Also, I have never heard of latex mattresses, but I chose an iron bed for basically the same reasons you did. I love it.

  16. I've never even heard of latex mattresses. Interesting.

  17. I have never heard of a latex mattress, but good for you guys for finding such a good deal!

    I really like the bed frame- simple yet interesting. And it probably won't scratch as much as a wood frame (not that you guys are going to move AGAIN any time soon). :-)

  18. Hmm I have never heard of a latex mattress. interesting. Furniture is so expensive, OMG it blows my mind.

  19. OH I KNOW!! For MONTHS after we bought our house we were still buying all the stuff that you need whenever you move anywhere (like curtains), plus PINING for stuff we'd never bought before (like attic insulation).

  20. Congratulations! It is very important for us to buy the furniture our dreams. And the bed is the furniture where we spend a lot of time of our life.

  21. Wow score on the mattress situation! That's awesome! As for all the expense of home owning, I definitely have heard similar stories from friends. It's made me decide that I should continue to rent, save up some money and then buy an RV.

    I'm only half kidding.

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