10 Tips for Furnishing an Apartment on a Budget

furnishing an apartment

It’s always exciting to move into an apartment, but furnishing the space can be a challenge. From furniture to appliances, the number of new purchases adds up quickly. So how can you make your apartment functional and stylish without breaking the bank?

Keep reading to learn 10 tips for furnishing an apartment on a budget!

1. When Furnishing an Apartment, Know Your Budget

Be aware that the cost to furnish an apartment can be pricey if you don’t set any boundaries. Before you head out shopping, spend some time setting a budget. Once you’ve paid rent, utilities, and any other monthly expenses, how much is left that you are able to spend on furniture and accessories?

You might not be able to afford a solid cherry coffee table or 8-way hand-tied sofa at this point in your life, so don’t overspend. Know that any piece of furniture can be upgraded down the road!

2. Make a List of Your Needs

Another important step is to create a list of everything you’ll need. When you walk into a store, it’s tempting to buy everything in front of you. But just like with grocery shopping, it’s better to head into a store with your list on paper!

Think about your priorities. Getting a quality mattress, for instance, is probably more important than getting an unnecessary end table. And if you want to be environmentally conscious, try an eco friendly mattress for your bed!

3. Find a Shopping Buddy

Accountability can be a great thing, especially when there’s money involved. Ask a trusted family member or friend to help you with the process. Tell them what your budget is, and ask them to make sure you don’t go over it.

And if you can choose a friend with some good design instincts or furniture know-how, that’s even better. They can help you avoid making design disasters or choosing a flimsy bookcase.

4. Check out Second-hand Options

Second-hand stores, estate sales, and garage sales will be your best friends when it comes to furnishing your apartment. You can score some great deals on quality furniture!

Buying new furniture may sound more appealing, but a second-hand piece of furniture that is better quality will last you longer. Look for signs of quality construction, like dovetail joints and solid wood or veneers. Check the finish of any tables to make sure that scuffs or dents are minimal.

Check upholstered furniture for rips or stains, and ask a store manager how long the piece has been in stock. If it’s been taking up space in the showroom (or someone’s house) for a long time, you may be able to score a better deal. And remember — you won’t know unless you ask, so feel free to ask about discounts!

5. Determine Your Style

Furnishing an apartment should have an aesthetic component. After all, you’ll be living in this space and want it to feel comfortable and stylish. Think about how all of these individual pieces can tie together into a unified space.

Do you prefer cool colors, or are you interested in patterns? Have you been swept up by the midcentury modern trend, or do you like a shabby chic look better?

It’s better to have some style guidelines in mind so you don’t end up populating your space with a bunch of different looks! Pick a color scheme, at least, before you hit the stores.

6. Bring a Tape Measure

Remember to pack a tape measure in your tote bag or car console as you head to the store. One of the worst things you can do is buy a couch or armoire that won’t actually fit in your space!

Make some measurements and write them down. You don’t have to craft a pretty map, but you can jot down your overall room measurements and a rough sense of where you would want to put everything.

7. Look Into Couch Alternatives

Couches can be expensive, with the average price at around $1,000. This can chew up your budget really quickly!

Look into a futon, loveseat, or bigger (and comfortable) chair as alternatives. Because these are smaller pieces of furniture, the prices should be lower. They may even look more appropriate for your space.

8. Don’t Go Go Crazy With Appliances

While you might want an espresso machine and a rotisserie in your kitchen, ask yourself if you can afford them. Make a list of the essential gadgets that you’ll need.

A carrot peeler, can opener, and spatula will be more useful in the short-term than a convection oven will. And don’t go crazy with utensils — buy enough to get you going with some disposable utensils that you can stash away until guests come.

9. Get a Rug

This might sound like a very specific suggestion, but getting a rug can make all the difference in a space! If your apartment has a lot of beige or white walls, add a pop of color with a rug.

A bold, patterned rug adds a focal point to a living room, while a softer rug can help pull together an eclectic mix of furniture pieces. Look at garage sales for the best deals on rugs. You can shampoo them and they’ll be new again!

10. Don’t Forget Storage

It’s easy — and more fun — to focus on the more visible parts of furnishing an apartment on a budget, but make sure that you don’t forget about storage.

Underbed storage, closet organizers, shoe racks, and flatware trays are all helpful things to have on hand. Grab a few plastic storage bins, too, for some extra help. Assess your closet and storage situation, and find solutions that are sized appropriately for your space.

The Bottom Line

Furnishing an apartment can be an enjoyable experience if you set a budget, set realistic expectations, and make a plan. Grab a friend and head out shopping. With a little persistence, you’ll be able to develop your personal style.

When you’re ready to find fresh and stylish lifestyle ideas, check back for more great articles!


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