While the worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, 2022 has ushered in a new issue – the cost of living crisis. Across the UK, people are struggling to keep up with soaring price increases, which affect everything from food and clothing to energy bills and interest rates.
As belts start to tighten, an increasing number of us are searching for new ways to save. Interiors are one area where savings can definitely be made. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to save money during the cost of living crisis UK.
Unpacking the cost of living crisis
Before we get stuck into clever tips and tricks, let’s take a moment to dive a little deeper into the cost of living crisis and how it’s affecting us Brits. Food prices are one of the biggest concerns, with an increasing number of households seeking help from food banks. A recent survey from the Independent Food Aid Network revealed that 93% of organisations have experienced a spike in demand in 2022. Almost 100% of food banks cite the cost of living crisis as the main driver of the trend.
With winter on the way, there are concerns many Brits will have to choose between eating or heating their homes. According to the Office for National Statistics, gas prices have increased by more than 100% over the past year. For already struggling households, this will be a devastating blow when the cold weather arrives.
Brits feel the pinch
The latest economic data suggests ballooning inflation is influencing how Brits borrow and spend money. Around 20% of people say they’re now borrowing more money to cover their expenses and roughly 50% can no longer save. The data matches recent stats from the Bank of England, which reveals credit card borrowing rates hit a 17-year high in August.
Consumer spending slumps
Consumer spending naturally takes a hit, with sales plummeting in August. Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG in the UK warns: “businesses are finding it harder to pass on higher costs” in the face of sluggish consumer spending and tighter margins.
British-based financial technology company Revolut has also noticed a downward trend in entertainment spending. Cash flow at attractions like amusement parks and museums dropped significantly in August, despite being peak season in the UK.
No doubt about it, Brits are feeling the pinch. So, how can you save money during the cost of living crisis UK? Read on as we unpack eight clever ways to stretch your pound further when it comes to shopping for furniture and interior décor.
How to save money on furniture and interior décor
1. Buy heirloom-quality furniture
While it can seem counterproductive to spend more on high-quality furniture during the cost of living crisis, in the long-run you’ll unlock big savings. Why? Because heirloom-worthy furniture is designed to last a lifetime, and beyond. In comparison, cheaper alternatives may last for a decade or so if you’re lucky, often less.
When it comes to furniture, you generally get what you pay for. Cheap items can be tempting but they create what we like to call a “false economy”. You think you’re getting a great deal but really, the item will likely need to be replaced in a few years. When you buy cheap, you generally buy twice. If you want to unlock genuine savings it’s best to invest in robust, long-lasting furniture.
One thing’s for sure, you won’t see cheap plywood furniture sold at antique shops in a century. Simply because these items don’t last. What you will see are items made from premium timbers like pine and acacia, just like those in our Florence collection. This calibre of furniture is designed to withstand everyday wear and tear and grow with your family.
2. Play with accessories, not furniture
If you want to refresh your spaces during the cost of living crisis, it’s much better to play around with accessories, as opposed to furniture. For example, Dulux has announced “Wild Wonder” as its Colour of the Year for 2023. The global paint giant describes the colour as a “positive, glowing tone, inspired by the natural world.” The shade is a blend of earthy green and warm neutrals, with hints of “soft gold” and harvest yellow.
Repainting your walls is the obvious way to embrace trending colours like Wild Wonder, but it’s not the only option. Accessories like our honey-hued Scrapbook Bumblebee Cushion and cashmere-touch Freya Cushion are an easy and affordable way to bring the Wild Wonder glow into your home.
3. Opt for timeless, not trends
Instead of blindly following interior design trends during the cost of living crisis, choose pieces with timeless appeal. For example, our Gainsborough range takes cues from the Georgian era. Silhouettes are inspired by the work of iconic British architect Thomas Gainsborough, whose work you’ll see across London. The designs are ageless and will never go out of vogue, unlike other fleeting trends.
Similarly, the Louisiana range combines the elegance of French country furniture with the longevity of Mindy ash wood construction. Also known as white cedar, this stunning natural timber is durable, scratch-resistant and has a beautiful natural grain. Plus, like the Gainsborough range, the Louisiana collection is timeless and will easily transcend interior design fads.
4. Shop online to compare prices
The internet has revolutionised the way we shop and made it easier than ever to track down the best deals during the cost of living crisis. Browsing online is a fast and efficient way to not only compare prices but also read reviews and find out more about what other customers think.
Another great money-saving tip is to shop with online brands, as opposed to brick-and-mortar shops. At furniture.co.uk, we are primarily an online brand which means we don’t have to pay for the overheads associated with brick-and-mortar shops. This includes things like rent for retail premises, salespeople’s wages, electricity and more. What does this mean for you? Well, for one, you can purchase high-quality furniture at amazingly competitive prices.
For example, our cheapest dining chair is currently priced at £64.98. Compare this to what you’ll find from brands with brick-and-mortar stores, and you’ll discover savings of around 50%. Quality is second to none, which means you can enjoy all the benefits of premium furniture, without the sky-high price tag.
How do you know if you’ll like what you order? At furniture.co.uk, we pride ourselves on detailed product descriptions and high-resolution photos. We also throw in plenty of styling photos and inspiration to help you imagine the product in your home. This makes it easy to get a feel for the product, just like you would in a traditional shop.
5. Get thrifty in the cost of living crisis
Along with a decrease in spending on entertainment, Revolut noticed a jump in the number of people shopping at second-hand shops. Along with clothes, charity shops can be a great place to pick up unique décor items to turn your house into a home.
Whether it’s a vintage china set to show off in a glass-fronted display cabinet or a collection of mid-century vases to complement your Edvard Olsen Sideboard, there are endless treasures to be found in charity shops. The search is all part of the fun, so get out there and start thrifting! You never know what gems you might find.
6. Spread the cost with Klarna
The advent of ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) platforms like Klarna has reimagined how the world shops. Use the service responsibly and Klarna can be a fantastic way to spread the cost of big-ticket items like furniture while navigating the cost of living crisis.
The Swedish-owned company offers customers the option to split purchases into four interest-free payments over several months. You can also choose from options like ‘Pay in 30’ which gives you a month to pay off the amount or longer financing plans with competitive rates.
7. Customise your furniture
High-end furniture brands often use unique colourways to set their designs apart from the crowd. Unfortunately, this usually comes with a high-end price tag to match. If you’ve seen something you love but don’t want to spend a small fortune, our custom colour service is a great way to channel the look.
We can custom paint virtually any item available on the website. This means you can enjoy the aesthetics of an expensive designer piece, without the exorbitant price tag.
8. Work with what you have
Breathing new life into old furniture can be a terrific way to refresh your interiors during the cost of living crisis, without blowing the budget. Whether it’s a sturdy wooden dining table that’s been in the family for decades or a vintage sideboard you picked up at a car boot sale, a new lick of paint can instantly transform an item that’s seen better days.
Did you know our custom colour service isn’t just for new items? Our experienced team is well-versed in repainting all kinds of furniture. Have something in mind? Contact us to learn more about this service. We can also upgrade the handles, add drawer linings and more – just tell us your requirements and we’ll take it from there!
How to choose long-lasting furniture
It’s all very well encouraging people to invest in heirloom-quality furniture to beat the cost of living crisis. But how do you know what to look for? Below, we cover some expert tips on how to choose furniture that’s built to last.
Pay attention to joints
Joint construction is one of the easiest ways to determine whether furniture is built to last. Things like nails, staples and glue are generally tell-tale signs of lacklustre construction. Ideally, you should look for dovetail joints that interlock into place. You’ll see plenty of these features in our furniture ranges.
Look for solid wood
Furniture made from solid woods like pine, oak and maple is built to last. Layered plywood topped with a solid wood veneer is also a great option. At the other end of the scale is furniture constructed from materials like particleboard and thin plywood. While cheap, these items are generally flimsy and won’t last long. If you want to beat the cost of living crisis and avoid buying twice, steer clear.
Drawers are another great way to distinguish between high-quality furniture and cheap imitations. Features like built-in wooden runners will not only improve the functionality of your furniture but also extend its lifespan.
Looking for craftsman details is a quick and easy way to assess the quality of a piece of furniture. Generally, budget manufacturers don’t invest time and resources on adding craftsman details. In comparison, small-batch manufacturers are all about attention to detail.
For example, in our brand new Queensbury range, you’ll see details like reeded tactile mouldings and grooved oak tops. Likewise, our Victorian-inspired Florence collection will impress you with Georgian feet, panelled doors and plinth tops.
Durable hardware is another telling sign of furniture that’s built to last. Looking closely at features like knobs, handles and hinges can be a good way to determine an item’s quality. Metals always take precedence over plastics, which can quickly wear out.
Beat the cost of living crisis
With experts warning more price increases could be on the way, planning ahead is one of the best ways to save money during the cost of living crisis. Rather than continually purchasing and replacing cheap furniture, investing in high-quality pieces is a great way to save money in the long run. This approach is also a great way to reduce your environmental footprint in the face of other issues like climate change and landfill space shortages.
With a huge range of craftsman-quality furniture to choose from online, plus high-res photos and descriptions for every product, investing in premium furniture has never been easier or more enjoyable. And of course, we’re always here to chat in person if you have any questions or queries.