It’s a dilemma. You’re finally out on your own and want to create your dream surroundings—someplace that’s really you—but your budget is almost as small as your apartment. How can you fill it with what you need, make it gorgeous, and still afford to eat? You can start with these strategic tips for furnishing your first home.
When roommates or a significant other are involved, make sure you brainstorm together about the best ways to use the space. You might find that they have very different ideas in mind or already have the ideal dining set. You don’t have to hash out whether mid-century modern is better than French country—or find a way to mash them together. Just start with the basics, keep it neutral for now, and respect their opinions.
You’re going to have to make some choices. You might want to go online and order everything, but you can’t return an entertainment center as easily as a top. Take your time. Live in your new place for a bit to get a feel for it, and then think of it as a puzzle. Where do you want to start? Do you want a sofa big enough to host movie nights? Or a bed you never have to leave? Figure out the first step, and then pace yourself.
Keep Scale in Mind
When space is at a premium, use your math skills to optimize your home’s functionality. You might find that you don’t need a desk—your dining table can double as a home office. Or you can find furniture that comes with built-in storage. Now is a time when you’re still figuring out who you are, so don’t fill up your apartment with stuff you don’t need. Measure everything, and play with dimensions until you hit on a combination that doesn’t feel claustrophobic.
Your friends and family might be just as excited as you about furnishing your first home. Strategic tip: don’t turn your nose up at their leftovers. Does Auntie Lu have an old end table that’s seen better days? If the furniture has made it this far, it must be fairly substantial. You can use it temporarily or, better yet, find the potential in it. Make it your first DIY project and upcycle it from shabby to chic. It costs next to nothing, and you might learn a lot about your personal aesthetic. It’s your first place, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. Let it grow with you.