Expert Advice: How You Can Buy Furniture Without Busting Your Budget


Furniture can be one of the biggest expenses for homeowners new and old, but it doesn’t have to be. We spoke with Gan Shee Wen, Chief Operating Officer of local furniture brand Commune, to find out his best tips for buying high-quality, long-lasting furniture without busting your budget.

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What are the essential furniture pieces to buy when on a tight budget? How about those to save for later?

Purchase basic furniture like sofas, dining tables, chairs, beds, and storage drawers first because they will be the most utilised pieces in any home. Part of Commune’s offerings is the Crimson collection, which is designed with both style and affordability in mind. For those with more moolah to shell out, I recommend getting add-on furnishings that marry both functionality and style. Coffee tables, end tables, shelves and mirrors, for example, are the type of items that add touch and texture to any space.

Which pieces do you think wear well and hold their value?

Furniture pieces made from genuine leather and solid wood are the best to get as they tend to age well with proper care and maintenance. Full-grain leather, which we use at Commune, is the most durable among other types of leathers and that’s why it’s commonly used for upholstery and even garments. Solid wood, such as North American dark walnut and white oak, is sturdier and has a more appealing grain pattern compared to other timbers. Our Volta and Dualtone collections are made from these wood variations, and they’re notorious for being elegant and long-lasting—perfect investments when outfitting your first home.

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In your opinion, what are the top three things that homeowners need to consider when buying furniture?

Material, dimension, and style. Materials give insight into the furniture’s quality, while dimensions are important to consider in order for furniture pieces to physically fit into specific living spaces. When it comes to interior style, homeowners should choose what they feel most comfortable with. We at Commune often advise our customers to weigh between cost and product lifespan, as purchasing low-quality pieces every one or two years tends to be more expensive in the long run. We’re proud to say that our products adhere to top safety standards and are manufactured with sustainably sourced materials, so you’re sure to have something stylish and enduring at home for years to come.

Please tell us what your all-time favourite furniture piece is and the things you like about it.

Definitely the dining table. It is one of the home’s centrepieces and also one of the first things to go on anyone’s furniture shopping list. Furthermore, the dining table is often used for gatherings and communing with family or friends—it’s essentially a tool that strengthens relationships. Some of my fondest memories are actually created around it.

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Lastly, what are your tips for those who shop on-sale pieces or scout furniture at showrooms?

Always shop in person so you can touch the furniture’s surfaces and scrutinise manufacturing discrepancies. Also, check out dining table and chair bundles, as they usually offer good discounts. Don’t get carried away by too-good-to-be-true prices though. Ensure that you’re making an informed purchase by understanding the store’s exchange and cancellation policies, in case you need to return the item. If you’re unable to be at the store physically, check with the furniture shop if they can assist you with furniture selection and other inquiries via video chat or voice call.

This post was adapted from an article originally published in the July 2020 issue of SquareRooms.