SO YOU’VE finally found a flat, but to avoid literally living out of your suitcase the next thing to tick off your ever growing list is some snazzy furniture. Most Antipodeans coming to London aren’t making a permanent move, so finding affordable options to fit out your flat is a must. The million-dollar question therefore has to be, something second-hand or new?
Markets are second-hand goldmines full of unique goodies to give your home that old-world feel. The only downside is most of the ornate nineteenth century mirrors and intricately carved wooden tables tend to be priced outside of a bargain hunter’s budget.
Gumtree and other such websites are also worth hitting up if you’ve got your heart set on something second hand, but do bear in mind that going down this path inevitably means you’ll have to pick up the already assembled furniture yourself. This isn’t always easy to manoeuvre on public transport.
Another cheap and possibly less traumatic solution would be to try your neighbourhood charity shop as they usually have a selection, however haphazard, of furniture. Do thoroughly clean anything you pick up. Bed bugs can be a problem so think twice before saving on a mattress!
Although polishing up a painstakingly found treasure can be incredibly satisfying, nothing beats some good old fashioned hand-me-down furniture. It’s definitely worth asking around so if any friends of friends just happen to be leaving town, you can try to beg, plead or bribe your way into inheriting some second hand pieces.
Of course if something old or something borrowed is not on the cards, London also has great options for a little something new that won’t necessarily break the bank. Let me introduce you to Argos and Ikea, your new best friends! Ikea, as just about everybody already knows, is a haven of low-cost flat-packed goodies, but this is not a one horse town and if you haven’t already discovered it, Argos is Ikea’s less glamorous but more convenient, more local and more affordable twin.
There are no excuses for cardboard furniture with Argos around. But don’t get too hasty, this is not Ikea in miniature. Argos is not like any other shopfloor where you walk around and look at the products before selecting them, it’s a tiny (or not so in some cases) store filled with catalogues and a counter. What you do is flick through the catalogues to find the product you like, then take the product code to the pick-up counter where you get a flat-packed box in exchange. Genius, huh?
Due to their massive size, the Ikeas in London are located outside the centre of the city, whereas Argos’ space saving service allows one to be placed on just about every High Street. But whether or not your nearest store is in walking distance or a short flight away, if you’re buying many things or anything heavy, go for home delivery. Both chains offer a delivery service for a small additional fee which trust me, is well worth your while. It’s a real pain in the a– to lug large, heavy and difficult-to- carry items on public transport, especially at peak hour or when you’ve got a sizeable walk home from the tube. If you can get it delivered, get it delivered!