Furnishing an Apartment for under $2,000

A month ago, we reviewed what to do if you need to furnish your apartment in $500 or less. Today, we’ll touch on suggestions if your budget’s a little bit larger – basically under $2,000. Which, when you consider our most recent first apartment checklist, isn’t so outlandish … after all, there’s a lot of things to buy!

ChairsFirst off, just because you’re able to spend up to $2,000 on furniture, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to skimp – so garage sales, relatives’ castaways, and thrift shops are still in play. You’ll likely need to get one or more major items from these sources.

That said, with $2,000 you can afford to spend a little more on a few key items – and you have some more flexibility: instead of just trying to get the basics (couch, bed, table, chairs, coffee table) in the cheapest manner possible, you can actually coordinate the furniture and try to have a cohesive vibe for your new apartment. Box stores such as Target, IKEA and World Market are within play, even if you still need to shop at the lower end of their price spectrum.

How do you figure out what to splurge on, and how to have everything match? Our guest blogger Kate Holland had some tips: pick your large pieces first and design around them and use rugs and accent pillows (which can be found on the cheap) to add color and make the room pop. Places like Fab.com have deals on cheap accent pieces, as well as furniture. Some other online deal sites to consider: Gilt Home and Overstock.com.

During our Design Month, we also worked with Interior Designer Kate Marengo. She had some shopping and design tips for readers, including shopping Estate Sales and Home Decorator’s Collection. She also pointed out that if you’re going to spend major money on just one or two major pieces of furniture, they should be your couch and your bed – since you spend every night sleeping in your bed, and most likely your couch is the other piece of furniture you use the most. Kate also answered readers’ questions in two parts, if you want to see her complete breakdown. (Spoiler alert: after you get your furniture, painting can be a great way to spruce up a place.)

Our blogger Christina walked our readers through all the different, unusual types of beds, while long-time blogger Alissa has the low-down on how to negotiate mattress prices – the key takeaway being: never pay sticker price for a mattress. In fact, offer to pay half and see where that takes you. You should end up settling on 3/4 to 2/3 of the list price.

Still intimidated? Our blogger Alexandra walks readers through how she furnished her studio for under 2K, while I caution readers about renting furniture: as overwhelming as furniture shopping can be, you’re far likely to get a better product at a better price if you buy, rather than rent. Realistically, $2,000 is a reasonable budget for furnishing a small apartment well. If you the patience to spend a few weekends on it, and continue to bargain hunt, you can have a very well-appointed place within a month of moving in.

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Author My First Apartment

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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Comments (6)

  1. Avatar xboxpcman

    consider looking at the free section on craigslist or tables, couches, bed frames (NOT MATTRESSES, THATS NASTY) CHAIRS AND MANY MORE

  2. Avatar slt

    I’m still confused about why $2,000 is the maximum? Is the advice geared toward college students and teenagers? An employed adult should be able to save up for furniture, decor and small appliances and still put away money for rent and utilities for at least 3-4 months. I guess I am confused how everyone seems to be moving out with little to no money? If you can afford furniture you cant afford to move out. In fact, there is no shame to live at home awhile longer if it means you can put money away to afford not only what you need but what you want.

    • Avatar anapestic

      The web site’s called “My First Apartment.” It is indeed focused on 18-20somethings who have just moved out of the dorms or their parents’ house.

      As for not being able to afford things, not everyone has the luxury of waiting to save up. It’s nice if you can–it’s responsible if you can. But in some cases, cash might be tight after paying for college. Jobs can be hard to come by when you’re young. Of course, you can take a gap year before college, but that’s not ideal or even possible for everyone either, and not everyone can get a job to save up. *Adults* often can’t get jobs in our economy. Nobody’s vying to hire teenagers. Most places won’t even hire you if you’re under 18, so if you skipped a grade in school or graduated early–forget it.

      Also, apartments are actually sometimes cheaper than living in school dorms depending on your city–and may be better depending on how secure your school is. In smaller cities/towns, you can get a shoebox studio for $450/mo that’s about the size of a dorm room, plus your own kitchen and bathroom.

      A first apartment isn’t really even the time to invest in furniture. You want to have stuff that’s pretty cheap, kind of disposable, and not something you won’t be mourning if you have to leave it behind. You may not spend that long in one place. Your style tastes will change as you grow older and more mature. You may have friends who think it’s hilarious to dye stuff with Kool-Aid or whatever stupid thing (hopefully you grow out of them and find better friends).

      Save the nice leather furniture for when you have a job, and just be cool with crashing on a futon for a while (you know, the one with the removable cover that you can throw in the washing machine in order to get the Kool-Aid out?). And save that which is not necessity for later on–you don’t have to decorate everything on the first day.

      When you think about all that, $2K is pretty generous. You can totally put what you need in your apartment for that.

      Finally, just because you have the money to spend a lot on your first apartment, that doesn’t mean you should. I’m lucky enough to be able to go to community college while living at home, and super lucky that my family’s well-off enough that I have plenty saved up for college and the cost of life while I’m there. But when I move out, I’m going to move into a studio or a cheap one-bedroom, take my current bed, desk, lamps, bookshelves, etc., and then I’m not going to spend a lot on what I do need to buy. Why should I? If I don’t, I’ll end up in less debt later on and be able to pay off whatever horrible student loans I end up with faster. And that rocks.

  3. Avatar Alexis Ryan

    Is this really so reasonable to furnished your apartment in just $2000 or less? But now a days it is difficult to find such a or furnished apartment in such price. Well, I will definitely want to know more about this.