A while back, I wrote about finding the perfect flat for me and my husband. Actually, there’s no such thing as “perfect”. There’s only a flat that suits what you need and then you settle. We settled for a flat in the middle of a busy area near my workplace. It makes much better sense to live nearer my workplace so that my husband can bring me to work first before he goes to his. So anyway, we’re paying SR 14,000 for our flat. We paid the first 6 months plus the akari (real estate) fee and the water fee (SR 500 per year). It’s steep money and I felt like a legit adult paying for house rent. (I used to rely on my father to pay for our flat in Suleimania because his housing allowance covers it hahaha.) When we were giving the SR 7,750 to the real estate agent, that’s when it hit me: adulting sh*t just got real! Hahaha!
So we already have the flat. The one thing I liked about our flat is that there were no major works to be done on it. The paint is still good, the floors are well-maintained, the kitchen and restrooms are clean. And so, it was only a matter of filling them with furniture and other things to make it a home. Our home! We tackled the living room first. We couldn’t take our old furniture from our Suleimania flat because our new one is significantly smaller. Also, our old living room set is well, old and it was a choice between the velvety, huge sofas or the smaller but sagging orange ones. Nope, no can do! We started from scratch. My husband I agreed that the living room design and decor is mine. I get to decide what goes on that space. He can’t argue. Hahah! And so our living room ended up looking like The Pink Tarha Headquarters. Hahaha!
I remember our housemates a long time ago saying that they don’t want to put so much effort into their flat here in Riyadh because the flat is not theirs anyway. While it’s true that we’re only staying here temporarily (unless you want to battle it out for citizenship, haha), it’s not bad to actually make the place you’re living on your own. It reflects your (and your family’s) personality, lifestyle, and aesthetics. Remember that most flats here don’t come with furniture and so we still have to buy those so why settle for pwede na when you can get what you really like at affordable prices? All you need is some research (reading The Pink Tarha helps, haha). Here’s how to make a living room that suits your taste and needs without breaking the bank. After all, you already blew your budget with the rent.
1. Have pegs! What is Pinterest for? Pegs are those images that will inspire you to do the same. Maybe you like the color scheme or the design or the decors in the pictures. Collect them and save them in your phone so it will be easier to refer to them when you’re already looking for furniture and decor items in the market. With pegs, you’ll know what to get without over buying stuff that are not needed in the room you’re envisioning. You can also start a Pinterest board where you gather items that you like to be in the room. I had a vision of a living room with touches of pink and gold. Apart from what it looks like, you should also want to come up with words that will describe how you want the room to feel like. Modern? Cozy? Bright? Relaxing? Elegant? I want our living room to feel cozy and homey but with touches of glam here and there. Chos, glam talaga?!? Hahah. I envisioned myself reading in the couch and my husband watching television after work. I want the space to work for both of us. Good for me, I had a small space to consider so it’s easy to fill it up with stuff I like. I had these pegs saved in my phone:
2. Go for white walls. Most flats come with basic white walls. So that you don’t have re-paint it and pay for paint and a painter, then use the white walls as is. Having a white wall is more conducive for your furniture and decors. You can run wild with the colors and patterns and keep the entire look pleasing to the eyes with the white balancing everything. However, you should also pick a “lead” item in your room. Pick an item with colors that will anchor the rest of the items in the room. In our case, it’s the sofa. We didn’t buy any other item (not counting those we already have) until we had the sofa because all the other items that will go in the room will have to match the sofa’s color.
3. Measure, measure, measure. And please measure the door too. We borrowed an engineer’s measuring tape from a friend. They were laughing at me when I specifically ask for an “engineer’s” tape. Baket daw kay engineer pa?! Haha! I don’t know, an engineer’s tape to me seems like more sturdy, than say, a tailor’s tape or a ruler. I couldn’t remember if that kind of tape has a different name but it feels like an engineer will have that tape, you know? Haha. Turns out I should have asked for a surveyor’s tape. Haha! Anyway, so yes, measure the area of your space before shopping for furniture and bring the tape with you. It helped us a lot when we went to furniture shops. I looked badass whipping out the tape in front of the salesmen and measuring the furniture like I knew what I was doing (I don’t). My husband would just laugh at me. And then I turned the tables on him by laughing so hard when the sofa we bought barely fit our door! We measured the floor and the corners but we forgot to measure the door! Hahaha! The guy from the furniture store needed to remove our door so the sofa can fit! Remember to also measure your door and also your gate if you’re living in a small building with a narrow gate.
4. Buy affordable furniture! For me, there’s no need to splurge on furniture. With our busy lifestyle, our sofas are barely used. Remember that in a few years you won’t know where you’ll be so it’s better to save some fulos and buy affordable furniture. You can buy comfy sofa sets in haraj and they have lots of patterns and colors to choose from. Plus, you can haggle. A few years ago, we wrote about places where you can shop for furniture. Here’s an updated list with approximate prices so you know where to go and where not to go next time.
$ OLD HARAJ (LOCATION): This is where we bought our sofa set. The old haraj is filled with furniture store. Only the clothing portion of that area transferred to the new one. Most of the furniture stores remained and they sell new and customized sofas. Most of the stores have the same design of sofas but they come in different colors and fabrics. Just shop around for a time before settling. You might find the same sofa you like at another store in lower prices. Don’t forget to haggle! I went inside one store, saw these mismatched pieces of sofa and asked the salesman how much it is. He told me if I get the four pieces, it’s SR 1,500. WUT?! So I asked him if I can get 3 pieces only since a fourth one will not fit our small living room. I asked for the floral armchairs to be included in the long sofa. He might have thought I was silly for picking seats that don’t match but I like them! He gave the three pieces to me for SR 800 including delivery. Delivery rates usually start at SR 100. So that means we got the sofa set at SR 700.
$ NEW HARAJ (LOCATION): There are furniture stores that transferred to the new haraj and their prices are not far behind those of the old haraj. It’s also more conducive to shop in the new haraj because the pathways are wider and brighter. We went to the new haraj during haj so we weren’t getting good deals. They jacked up their prices in time for the holiday so one salesman suggested we return after the eid holiday. I saw a silvery pink sofa that I like in a velvet fabric but it was still SR 1.000 plus SR 100 for delivery. No, thank you. If we came back after the eid, the guy said he’ll give it to us for SR 850. Our friends also got a 7-piece sofa complete with pillows for SR 900 in the new haraj. Inexpensive considering they’re new furniture but since the set is huge and composed of many sofas, delivery cost them SR 400.
$$ AL KHALEEJ (LOCATION): There’s a haraj-like furniture mecca in Al Khaleej, just off Khurais Road. Like the new haraj, furniture stores are gathered in this huge space. But OMG their prices are expensive considering they’re probably the same stores that are in the haraj area. I saw the same velvet couch that I saw in the new haraj in an orange version and they were selling it here for SR 2,000! I did a double take and I asked them if they have the same furniture in haraj. The guy said YES! WTH?! I showed him the picture of the sofa in haraj and told him the price they gave me for the same thing (SR 850) and they appeared surprised but they still insisted on the SR 2,000 price tag. Uhmn, KTHNXBYE. Do not waste your time in this area.
$$ UKEA (LOCATION): I’ve seen UKEA on Facebook and one of their staff even messaged The Pink Tarha before to feature their store. UKEA basically sells used IKEA furniture. It’s a second-hand shop in the middle of the Al Khaleej furniture area. I wanted for so long to visit it and see their stuff since they appear nice in Facebook photos. Well, all I can say is this store is a waste of time and money. Don’t buy furniture here because some of their prices are so close to the original IKEA price that it’s better to go to IKEA and buy new furniture instead. There are battered and so dirty sofas that are still priced at more than SR 1,000. Having them cleaned will probably cost you close to SR 1000 too! Most of the items are old, broken, and dirty. Who knows what kind of use they went through?! It’s okay if they are priced justly but no… they’re still expensive.
$$ IKEA (LOCATION): Of course, IKEA is still the most popular choice for furniture but I find their sofa sets expensive at more than SR 2000. Even when they’re on sale, a set will still take you anywhere from SR 1,200 up. Their less than SR 1000 sofas can only sit one or two. So yup, no thank you. IKEA is good for decors though. They’re the best when it comes to storage too. Our flat is filled with IKEA items that are priced less than SR 300.
$$$ EXIT 14 FURNITURE MALL (across IKEA – LOCATION): We thought that this area filled with a lot of furniture stores is like haraj. Well, it’s like haraj all right… with heftier price tags! The sofa sets are so expensive that we only managed to go inside 2-3 stores before calling it quits. This area includes some popular furniture establishments like High Point, Familyhome, iHome, Pan Emirates, etc. All expensive sofa sets even when they’re on sale.
$$$ HOME CENTRE, MIDAS, EDDY, POTTERY BARN, WEST ELM, etc. These stores have really nice sofa sets and furniture. If you have the fulos to afford them, go for it.
Remember that when it comes to furniture and appliances, you should consider quality. Read reviews and ask friends and colleagues for their personal recommendations. Not all cheap items are poor quality and not all expensive items have the highest quality. Consider your budget and splurge on the non-negotiables and save on the things that should be replaced after a certain time.
5. Save on decors! The little items make a room. After you decide on your furniture, you can now add finishing touches like pots of plants, photo frames, lamps, flowers, vases, candles, etc. Here are some stores worth checking out.
$ 5-RIYAL STORES (LOCATION of Hazzaz in pic): Move over riyalin stores (that are not really riyalin-priced), the rise of the 5-riyal stores is here! Yes, there are stores that offer items for a flat SR 5. You can visit the Hazazz 5-riyal stores and the Everythin 5 Riyal stores all over the city. Products worth buying from these stores are tissues, cleaning materials, rugs, containers, glass vases, etc.
$ MINISO (LOCATION): We love Miniso! It’s the Japanese store where you’ll find things you didn’t think you need! Haha! We love their skincare line and gadgets but we also like the home stuff they have. Most of their items are priced at SR 9. Vuy their diffusers, wet tissues, lunch bags, tissue holders, sewing kits, etc.
$ PLANT NURSERIES: I am too lazy to take care of plants but my husband has a green thumb so I let him visit plant nurseries in the city. Sometimes, we just pass them by on the way to an errand and we will stop to check the plants out. Most of the plants sold by nurseries on the side of the road are flowering plants. We found bonsai plants and cactus in Tamimi Supermarket. And we found our lone center table plant (which my husband named “Plan Plan”… er, go figure, hahaha!) in IKEA’s plant section.
$$ IKEA: Speaking of IKEA, it’s in this list again because it’s just so conducive to shop in this place! Every country is probably wishing for IKEA to come and build their warehouse in their backyard. We like IKEA’s photo frames, rugs, vases, storage containers, shelves, etc. It’s so easy to plan with the IKEA app before going to the store.
$$ NICE (LOCATIONS): Nice Stores are good for decors and little details that can spruce up the living room. It’s better to wait for their daily deals and mega sale before buying from the store though because some of their bigger pieces are expensive. I would have loved to buy their gold gilded tables but they’re SR 500 a piece! Whew! However, their kitchen utensils, frames, faux flowers and plants, candles, laundry items, and luggage are affordable.
$$ DEPARTMENT STORES: Centrepoint and Max have home sections where you can get additional items to make your home more beautiful and functional.
$$$ H&M HOME and DEBENHAMS: Only buy their products when they’re on sale. Otherwise, there are cheaper alternatives out there.
So this entry is getting too long and I would have to cut it right here. There is more to the Moving In Journey but this is it for now. It’s been fun sharing what went into the making of our space. My husband will be thrilled to know that I had the goal of making our living room Pinterest-worthy and Instagram-worthy. And that was the only goal I had. Hahaha! Kidding!
Our final living room project: