Jen Jackowski

When you move into an apartment, you have the fun, but often expensive, task of furnishing your new digs. Some things you probably already own, but decorating the space after moving in allows you to get furniture that fits each room and looks cohesive.

Unfortunately, even those who have a modest image of their dream apartment may struggle to afford the furnishings they need. That's where secondhand purchases come in. By bringing home used items, you'll save money and recycle– we all love the environment here!

Of course, some secondhand goods aren't ideal for apartment decorating, which means only a portion of what you purchase can be used.  Here's a guide for knowing what things you can get that have already been loved and which you should purchase new:

Buy Used: Furniture:

While some of the furniture you'll find at resale shops and garage sales could be pretty well loved, other pieces will be in surprisingly good condition. Sometimes people buy furniture and decide they don't like it or move into a smaller apartment, so they donate it to a thrift store or sell it in a consignment shop.

Even pieces that have wear and tear can be usable. Some new upholstery and paint can go a long way in making old furniture look young again. When selecting used furniture, you can afford to buy higher-quality pieces, so be discerning when shopping. Avoid furniture built with particle board and make sure the pieces are sturdy.

Buy Used: Tools

While things like hammers and drills aren't furnishings per se, they're necessary for apartment decorating. You can't hang your favorite painting without the proper hardware. For that reason, every renter needs tools. However, avoid buying these products new, as they can get expensive. What's more, used tools and older models are still perfectly good.

If you want a power tool, ask the pawn shop, thrift store or garage sale attendant if you can test it. Most will say yes.

Buy Used: Appliances

Need a toaster or microwave for your apartment? Definitely look for used versions. New appliances can be very costly (who wants to spend $400 on a microwave?), and many used options still work fine.

You might not get the pretty stainless steel version you wanted, but saving money will be worth the compromise. As with tools, always ask to test the appliance before you buy it. That way, you'll know it works.

Buy Used: Art

You may not always find the trendiest art pieces used, but after scouring, you may just discover something you like.

What's more, sometimes you can get simple prints that look amazing when you put them in a frame. Always rummage through used art piles– it could be worth your time.

Saving money is all well and good, but don't let pretty price tags distract you when apartment decorating. Not all items are the money you'll save. Purchase these goods new:

Buy New: Most Cookware

Your kitchen may need new pots and pans, but avoid buying cookware used. This isn't because you shouldn't trust the previous owner's ability to wash dishes; rather, it's because wear and tear can ruin kitchen tools.

Nonstick cookware may scratch. Bacteria can fester in the scratches on cutting boards and spatulas may break. Invest in quality, new cookware to outfit your kitchen with items that will serve you for years to come.

However, good silverware (actual silver or stainless steel) and cast iron pans can be bought used as they don't degrade in quite the same way as other cookware.

Buy New: Mattresses

Spring for a new mattress for your bedroom rather than heading to a thrift store. Mattresses tend to sag and develop craters from years of use, especially if the previous owners didn't rotate theirs.

Additionally, mattresses can attract bed bugs. A note on bugs: Whenever you buy furniture used, inspect it for bed bugs. With mattresses, don't take a chance and just buy a new one. You'll be more comfortable anyway.

Buy New: Bedding

Along the same lines as mattresses, only buy bedding brand new. This includes sheets, blankets, pillows, pillow cases, etc.

A poorly maintained pillow can become wet and grow bacteria, and you don't know how well the thrift store took care of it. Plus, buying new sheets is wonderful– all that fresh-pressed linen on your feet!

Buy New: Certain Appliances

Used toasters and microwaves are all well and good, but buy vacuums and blenders new. Vacuums lose suction power over time, and because you'll use your vacuum often, you don't want to struggle to get your floor clean. The blade on used blenders can dull, making smoothie prep a real pain. In both cases, opt for new. Look out for sales to help save money.

Buying a combination of new, used and on-sale furnishings will help make apartment decorating a more affordable operation.

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