Furnishing your apartment… How much will it cost you?

<---- A month after I moved into my apartment, this is what it looked like. Very plain, very boring, and not even close to how I visioned it prior to moving in. I will post "after" pictures soon! Our site recently took a poll asking how much people are planning to spend on furnishing their first apartment. 11% said nothing. (I sure hope that they have friends and family donating items to them or that they are moving into a furnished apartment!) 7% said under $250. The majority, 27%, said $250-$500. 18% said $500-$1,000. Another 18% said $1,000-$2,000. And finally, 19% said over $2,000. In May 2005, I flew back home to my parent’s house in Michigan after spending two semesters living in the dorms. I put all of my stuff in storage and had no idea when I’d see it next. You see, my school only guarantees housing for freshmen. The day after I arrived home I began my search for my first apartment. Within a week, I found my place and signed the lease. A friend then decided to bring me back to reality by asking, “How do you plan on furnishing your apartment?” And to be honest with you, I didn’t have the slightest idea, but I knew it could be done. Although my apartment is still a work in progress, and will never be perfect or complete, I’m hoping that my sharing how I furnished my apartment for under $1,500 may be enough to convince all you non-believers that it can be done. On the morning of July 14, at 9:00a.m. (on the dot), my Grandmother pulled up in her minivan. Thrilled to be heading back to New York City, and even more ecstatic to be moving into my own apartment, my parade was quickly rained upon when I realized all the boxes and bags that I had spent a month packing were not about to fit in the van, and leaving my grandmother, my brother and/or my mom behind, was simply not an option. (Tip #1: Take as much stuff as you can from your old place. Ask family and friends if they have anything they’d like to get rid of. I totally understand that brand new furniture sounds so much more appealing, but keep in mind, it is only temporary.)

After the two day journey, we pulled up to my apartment. I had it all planned out. We’d go to IKEA, get everything I could possibly need, come home and have a furniture assembly party and call it a night in my perfect apartment. (Tip #2: Rome was NOT built in a day.)

Our main priority that first morning was installing my air conditioner
that I bought back home. (Tip #3: Some things should be left to
Little did we know, that would take all day. Thank
goodness for the air mattresses we brought, because our first night in
my humble abode was spent sleeping on them. (Tip #4: Listen to your
mother when she offers advice, 9.5 times out of 10, she is right.)

Day two was entirely dedicated to IKEA. (Tip #5: Make a list of what you
NEED, and another list of what you’d LIKE.)
When shopping for furniture, start with your priority pieces. For example, a bed takes priority over the perfect duvet cover. Also,don’t let traditional uses, looks or space be an obstacle to you. As a writer and a student, a desk was a priority to me; however, I simply did not have the space. Not even two minutes into my frustration in the middle of IKEA, my mom pointed out a “table-top” that mounts to the wall.(Tip #6: Be creative.)

In my opinion, the most difficult part of furnishing your apartment is
accepting the fact that it isn’t going to look like a feature story in
Domino magazine. It takes time, a lot of time… I had boxes sitting
around for a solid two months after moving in. Not only does it take
time, it takes a lot of money. Sometimes making short term sacrifices,
truly does equate in long-term rewards. For example, I couldn’t afford
the bedding that I wanted at the time. I waited six months and used
the bedding that I had back at home and slowly purchased one piece at a
time. (Tip #7: Patience truly is a virtue.)

In the end, realize that there really is no trick to the trade. No
matter what your budget, it is possible to make your place livable, but it will always be a work in progress. In the word’s of one of my favorite websites, Apartment Therapy, “nothing you ever do for your home is wasted.”

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Author My First Apartment

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Writer/Student/Intern/Nanny, Home Products/Organization/Interior Design Addict

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Comments (4)

  1. Avatar Nichole

    has anyone built a moddi murphy? I found this at http://www.cheapmurphy.com. It looks like its made of parts from Ikea and claims it is easy to build. a friend said they saw a gallery of photos of people who have built one, but when I went to the site I couldn’t find it. It looks nice, but I’m skeptical on how easy it is to build.

  2. Avatar Jonelle

    yeah, this is definitely something to keep in mind….i always imagined myself taking out a week just designing my space, but i never thought of it taking more than that. plus, expenses make you decide what is more important than another thing.

  3. Avatar Jose

    well said, Rome was truly NOT built in a day…and neither is a relationship! moving into a new apartment is like building a relationship; little by little, you accomplish something. patience is a virtue and with every relationship (aka your apartment) take time with it. the end results will exhibit something personal and to be proud of.

  4. Avatar Amanda

    Someone asked me to list how much each item in my apartment was. This is how I spent my original $1,500 at IKEA: Bed, $100, Mattress, $300, Bookshelf, $150, Sofa, $200, Coffee Tables, $20, Duvet, $100, Drapes (from Pottery Barn), $100, Dresser, $100, “Desk”, $50, Stool, $50, Accessories, the remainder.