Moving into your first apartment often means you're coming in with a blank slate. No furniture, no kitchenware. You may have a few items from living at home or being on your own in a college dorm, but why not start fresh in your first place?
Furnishing an apartment from top to bottom isn't always budget-friendly, especially after you've put money down to secure your lease. Yet, with today's design trends, and a lot of options for where to get essential pieces of furniture, you don't have to break the bank.
It's easier to prioritize what you need for your first apartment if you think about function first. Make a list of items you truly need:
Next, review this list and see where you could combine functions should it get too costly to buy each piece alone. A futon can double as a couch and a bed. A few TV tables can become a portable surface to eat on and set down your tablet. A sizable dresser can store clothes and provide space for books and other personal items on top.
Don't get drawn in, during the initial phase of furnishing your apartment, by pieces you don't need. According to the Huffington Post, items that often fall on this list include anything from ottomans to nightstands.
If you're able to only buy essential items, it should cost you between $3,000 – $5,500 to furnish your apartment.
It's not always necessary to spend more for quality in all things, says Patty Lamerti writing for Money Under 30. Furnishing an apartment on a budget doesn't mean your only options are cheaply-made pieces that will wear out before you move out. It all depends on where and how you shop:
Within each store or online site, it's important to, “do your research," says Dahna M. Chandler, an interior designer. “Know where and how furniture was made, and invest in the best you can afford."
Here's a little more information on a few key pieces for your first apartment as well as tips on how to keep everything within the budget.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when shopping for a bed is how much they spend on a mattress. The expensive models aren't necessarily the best. Stay away from those high-end mattresses that are mostly memory foam. It feels great but doesn't hold up well over time.
As for a bed frame, you can get something very simple, for next to nothing. Bedding is something you definitely want to buy new, but it's also something that often goes on sale, so check around.
How to save: A futon can double as a couch and a bed. You can find futons for under $100. That includes the “mattress" and the bed frame all in one. A bed and mattress averages around $500.
You most likely can't imagine your living room without a couch. How else will you and your friends sit and watch a movie or your favorite TV show? A living room without its central piece of furniture can feel naked, but going in for a pricey, plush sectional could break the bank.
Many great options for couches pop up at box stores like Walmart or Big Lots. Target has even started carrying larger furniture pieces. Wholesale stores are a great place to go for this furniture piece, as well.
How to save: Ditch the expensive sectional which can cost upwards of $500. Look into smaller, comfy pieces like a chair and a half. This oversized chair can cost a third of what you'd pay for a larger couch. This is also where your futon purchase from above keeps the budget down.
It's easy for the temptation to take hold when shopping for your kitchen. This is where prioritizing by need comes in handy. You don't need a set of eight spatulas or enough place settings for 12 people. Go for minimum quantities. Finding inexpensive, quality options is easy at most home goods stores.
The great thing about shopping for small appliances, like a microwave or coffeemaker, is you have plenty of options. Price compare online places and local stores to find the best deal. Make sure you spend enough to get an appliance with the features you want.
How to save: If you can, hold off until Cyber Monday or Black Friday, right after Thanksgiving for small appliances. They often go on sale this time of year, especially on Amazon, and you can get a great deal.
Of course, you need a surface to eat on, but what size does that surface really need to be? Size matters when talking about the price of a table. Bigger tables cost more. A dining room table that seats 10, is going to be more expensive than a kitchenette that seats four.
Shop to function and think about how many people may eat in your apartment at one time, on average. You can always bring in a folding table and chairs for a special occasion.
How to save: Scrap the need for a table altogether and use small TV tables that fold up for your eating or working surface. You can get more than one for guests, eat anywhere in your apartment and store them out of the way when you're done.
Don't settle for the single bar hanging across your closet. That isn't going to hold much. Take it upon yourself to improve your storage space by adding in organizers to increase what fits.
Use space-saving hangers, hanging storage, over-the-door organizers and shoe racks to turn your closet into the best storage space in your apartment. Get what you can into your closet before deciding to buy a dresser or other storage pieces to save some money.
How to save: Check out places like The Container Store for ideas then price compare online to find the best option. Shopping for items like these right around back-to-school time can get you some big savings. Stuff like this often goes on sale for college kids.
As you look around the variety of shops for items for your home, it's beneficial to have a design style in mind. Picking a minimalist approach or leaning toward furniture with a modern edge can help you bring together all your furniture pieces, so that no matter where you get each one, they all fit together.
Selecting the right items for your home whether it's furniture or something decorative gets easier if you already know your design style. A few of the most recent trends include:
Many well-known furniture stores are also now offering items designed for small spaces. These pieces are often more affordable because they're smaller. They tie into a “less is more" decorating style, which often works well for your first apartment and your budget.
In general, the average consumer in the U.S. spends a little more than $1,000 per year on furniture. This is after they've already moved into their home, so don't feel as if you have to buy all your furniture at once.
Take your time and stick with an affordable plan to transform your first apartment into the perfect place to live.