Living in your first apartment is one of the many milestones of becoming an adult. It’s an exciting time, and we’re sure you’ve been looking up the latest trends regarding apartment decorating. In fact, you may have gotten too carried away looking at Pinterest! But then you snap back to reality and realize your extravagant ideas may not be in your budget.
When you add up the costs of furnishing your new place, you may recognize you will need to invest in alternative ways of shopping, compared to relying on brand-name stores. In 2015, the average person spent about $500 on furniture, and in 2016, the amount was $460. However, you can get the essentials for way less.
Your First Apartment Furniture Checklist
As the saying goes, you may have champagne taste on a beer budget — but it doesn’t mean you have to settle for anything less. There are cost-effective ways to make your apartment feel homey if you are willing to put time and effort into the process Because living in an apartment is often temporary, save your more expensive budget for long-term housing.
Furnishing an apartment is all about personal preference and style. Your imagination can do wonders, as opposed to looking through a cookie-cutter designer magazine, and it’s vital to have a game plan before delving into the process.
1. Set a Cost-Effective Budget
It’s easy to overspend while furniture shopping — whether by $100 or half a grand — especially when you find unique pieces you think you need. But before you begin your search, set a budget. If you don’t give yourself a limit, you may end up spending inadvertently, which will put a major dent in your bank account. It may even cause you to invest in furniture you have no intention of using.
You should also section off your apartment per room to help you narrow down necessary pieces for each. For example, when you determine what you need for your kitchen, living room, dining area and bedroom, you can get a better idea of where to start. And if you spend less on one item, you can splurge on another.
2. Measure Every Room in the Apartment
Don’t make the mistake of purchasing furniture that doesn’t fit! It’s a great idea to measure each area to determine how many items you can place in each. If you are putting things against a wall, measure the table, couch or another element to know how much room you have left. If you end up with more space, you can add an end table, lamp or whatever you see fit.
You should also take time to measure the dimensions of your apartment door and other places you need to move your furniture through. If you can’t shove your couch through the front door, and a table doesn’t come apart, you may end up with unusable items. Apartment sizes in Pennsylvania average about 861 square feet, so be mindful of what you want to add.
3. Style One Area at a Time
It’s vital to take your time with each room, instead of trying to figure out every piece of furniture you need for every area. Tackle each space as its own entity by measuring and purchasing what you need, then moving on to the next one. Take it one step at a time, and your apartment will be furnished sooner than you expected.
4. Look at the Big Picture
We know it’s easy to get carried away, whether you’re shopping online or in-store. A quick purchase here and another few dollars there can add up to a mismatch of furniture if you don’t look at everything as a whole. Always make sure your items match, or at least have a similar sense of style or theme.
You know you’ll need a coffee table, couch and TV stand, but make sure they flow together. It’s important to think about how individual elements look paired together to match your particular style of vintage, modern or rustic.
5. Think Before You Spend
Never go on a shopping spree without thinking of what you need beforehand. While you can make decisions on the fly if you want to grab an ice cream or rent a movie, it’s not always an ideal move when it comes to furniture. You can hurt your budget if you determine later on you didn’t really want the couch or the end table isn’t a practical move. Making a list is helpful. Next to each item, explain what you’re searching for and where you can find it.
6. Arrange Your Furniture Simply
Try to avoid making your apartment appear small. You can do so by placing your furniture in more functional areas. For example, place the couch against the longest portion of a wall, and put smaller items like a coffee table in the center.
You will want to consider the flow of traffic as people come and go to avoid them from having to step over items or walk around large pieces to get to one end of the room. If you place a light-colored rug in the center of an area, it can make it feel more spacious and help break up different pieces.
7. Shop Online
Shopping online is so common you may not have even thought of driving to a brick-and-mortar store. In fact, estimated total sales of furniture from the Internet amounted to about $14 billion, or about 15 percent of all furniture sales, in 2015.
If you buy online, you can often reduce the number of overhead charges. Online shopping is a simple and convenient way to access different stores, and you can pay less by comparison shopping. You can also pick your order up from a warehouse or have the items shipped to your home.
8. Know the Best Times to Shop
Retailers often debut new products in April and October, which means discounted furniture is available about two to three months beforehand. Stores need to make more room for upcoming lines, so call around to different managers and ask when they expect to have major discounts. You can also see if different stores have discontinued items, as well as damaged furniture that may need some TLC.
9. Keep It Simple
If you remember the concept of supply and demand from high school or college, you know looking for unique pieces will only increase your spending. For instance, you will have to pay more for exclusive items like a red ottoman or blue couch. Therefore, you should look for neutral colors like black, gray, tan, brown or white.
10. Avoid Brands and Labels
Don’t get caught up in designer trends and labels, because you will most often pay premium prices for the brand name. When you boil it down, you will need functional furniture that fits your budget, not high-end trademarks. And if you buy a couch, bed or chair from a lesser-known name, it doesn’t always translate to lower quality.
Furnishing Your First Apartment on a Budget
If you’re searching for ways on how to furnish an apartment from scratch, you can choose from a collection of possibilities — or even choose all of them to see what works. Places to get cheap furniture range from discounted stores and thrift shops to using your family and friends or Ikea. Consider all the options and determine which is ideal for your budget.
1. Check Out Your Parents’ House
Nothing is better than free things, especially when it comes to furniture. Look around your parents’ home to find your favorite items from your childhood, or search for tucked-away furniture in the attic or garage.
You may not find the trendiest items, but the furniture will serve your basic needs, and you can always upholster or repurpose things to fit your style. You can also contact other friends and family members and ask if they have any unwanted furniture they can offer you.
2. Garage Sales, Auctions and Estate Sales
Check out local listings for garage and estate sales as well as auctions. The possibility of finding one-of-a-kind possessions is high. You can pick up a significant number of items you may need, and you can often haggle to receive a lower price. Each week in the United States, about 165,000 garage sales take place, so you’re bound to find some excellent deals!
3. TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls
Many people often overlook great finds from places that have markdown prices. But when you stop by stores like TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshalls, you’re sure to discover unique items. As you go through the different sections of each store, you can find accessories, towels and decorative knick-knacks. They even have larger furniture items in stock, such as chairs and tables.
Ikea can be your one-stop shop for modern style furniture at excellent prices. You can choose to shop online or in-store, but make sure you know what you’re searching for before diving in, because their selection is so vast you may get distracted! Ikea offers a range of prices and many bargain items to serve as a cost-effective alternative for furniture shoppers.
5. Consignment and Thrift Shops
Thrift shops and consignment stores can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes you can cash out with excellent finds, while other times you won’t find anything. However, they are great options if you are a major DIY enthusiast. You can buy items to upholster or repurpose, meaning you can re-style furniture pieces to fit your lifestyle and fashion preference. If you’re hunting for anything like vases, rugs, kitchenware, appliances and furniture, thrift stores may be your best bet.
6. Craigslist, eBay and Freecycle
More often than not, people want to get rid of things they don’t need without the hassle of waiting for a buyer. Search the free sections on sites like Craigslist, eBay and Freecycle to see potential items that are in great condition, or that you can tidy up with a little TLC.
Sometimes it becomes a waiting game to receive the best items, so don’t rush, and take your time to furnish your apartment with unique and sensible pieces. You can also subscribe to Freecycle via email to receive notifications when people post things.
7. Dumpster Diving
We know — dumpster diving is a last resort, or it may not even be on your list of options. But don’t be so quick to write it off. Some people don’t want to deal with listing and selling items, so they throw things out like desks, chairs and shelves. Certain pieces may be in great condition, or others may need a little tune-up.
Your situation is even more ideal if you live near a college. Go check out dumpsters on a move-out day, because many students don’t want to load up their car with items they have at home.
When you are furnishing your apartment on a budget, always shop around for the best prices. Wait for things to go on sale, especially during the holidays, and search for online coupons to reduce your costs a little more. You can also opt to pick up your furniture instead of having it shipped to you. Shipping costs can jack up the final price, so save money by picking up items in person.
Multi-Functional Furniture Ideas
While it’s ideal to have couches, tables, beds, chairs and other types of furniture in your new apartment, have you ever thought of multi-functional solutions? Instead of investing in separate pieces, you can put your money into furniture that can transform into other practical uses.
For example, you can purchase a sofa with a pullout bed, which comes in handy when you have guests over. You can also choose ottomans that have storage space to place your books, TV remotes and even blankets for extra room.
Functional furniture is particularly helpful if you live in a smaller apartment. Other examples include:
- Chairs turning into desks
- Kitchen benches doubling as storage
- Coffee tables turning into food trays
- Tables also functioning as bookcases
- Sofas that separate into several seating arrangements
Investing in multi-purpose pieces can help cut furniture costs because you won’t have to purchase as many items. It will increase the space you have in each room and gives your apartment a modern vibe. You will also be able to minimize the amount of clutter you find throughout the apartment.
Triple Crown Corporation Rental Communities
While furniture shopping on a budget is doable, it can add a bit of extra work to your moving situation. But when you rely on Triple Crown to find you the perfect home, we make searching for the right apartment an easy process. You can find rental properties from Triple Crown in New Cumberland, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg and Harrisburg.
We provide luxury townhouses and apartments with various amenities, and our communities are up to date with modern renovations. You can apply and search for different rental options online, as well as view and compare our different options. Triple Crown Corporation includes photos of each property, so you can determine which best fits your lifestyle.