You’ve signed the lease and picked up the key to your new apartment. You’re ready to move in. Or are you?
If this is your first unfurnished apartment, you may be facing the daunting task of buying furniture and feathering your new nest. Don’t stress. Furniture shopping can be fun and even affordable if you follow a few simple guidelines. And once you take care of the essentials, the joy of transforming a few empty rooms into your home can be fun. You can turn shopping into weekend outings while you explore your new community and discover your personal sense of style.
1. Set a Budget … and Stick to It
You need to balance furniture purchases with your other bills, recurring (e.g. utility bills, rent, food) and non-recurring (e.g. furniture, entertainment).
Start with a realistic budget. Remember, you don’t need everything the day you move in.
You need to become a savvy shopper who knows how to stretch a dollar. Do your research. Check out several stores before buying. Look for sales and discount coupons. Watch for closeouts at local furniture stores. Shop at online generally affordable stores (Ikea, Wayfair, Overstock, West Elm). When doing so, pay attention to shipping costs and return policies.
2. Prioritize Your Purchases
Your plan for furniture buying begins with a list of the bare essentials. Number one on your list is a bed. You don’t need an expensive frame or platform, but don’t cut corners on the mattress. Shop around. Test mattresses at a local bed store. Even if you opt for a convertible sofa, you can still invest in a quality mattress. There are some new emerging mattress companies such as Casper, that ship a mattress directly to you. Be sure to make arrangements to be there when it’s delivered.
Second and third on your list probably should be a chest of drawers for your clothes and a sofa for the living space.
At this point, you’re pretty functional. Now, make a checklist of additional items (e.g., extra seating, end tables, dining table, and chairs), and prioritize each entry on your list.
3. Measure BEFORE You Buy
Before you buy anything, measure. Consider creating a dimensional drawing of the room to see if your furniture will fit. Write down the size of your rooms, and be sure to measure doorways. Carry that list with you whenever you go shopping.
Checking room dimensions before you buy ensures everything will fit. You want to keep your rooms from looking too cluttered and don’t want a single piece of furniture to overwhelm your entire living space.
Also, remember to figure out how you’ll get large, heavy items through doors, up a staircase, in an elevator, and/or around corners BEFORE furniture is delivered.
4. Opt for Neutral Colors and Styles
While color can brighten a space, you should consider keeping your furniture choices neutral, meaning off-white, beige, and light gray. These colors go with almost everything.
With neutral furniture, you can easily and affordably alter your color scheme and style in the future. Just change out a few accents. You can go from Art Deco to French country without replacing your basic furniture.
Even if you want one special piece of furniture as a focal point, keeping the color neutral will likely allow you to enjoy it for many years to come. Using colorful accents like lamps, lamp shades, pillows, plants, and carpets can provide a spot of color to brighten the room and insert a bit of your personality.
5. Go Functional
When you’re on a budget, make your purchases count. For example, you can find furniture with extra storage built in. An oversized ottoman or two (typically under $100) can do double duty as a great place to park your feet and extra seating in a pinch.
If your kitchen has a built-in bar, you could buy a couple of stools and wait to buy a dining table and chairs later.
But enough of practicality, furnishing your apartment should be fun. And you can do it on any budget… if you know where to shop. Buy plants at a local greenhouse. Hunt for funky tables and lamps. Scour for good deals on prints and posters you can frame.
7. Add a Dash of Creativity
Finally, add a dash of creativity to your apartment interiors. It is a great time to discover your inner creativity.
With a little planning, you can furnish your new apartment without breaking the bank. Happy Shopping!