Furnishing your first apartment is no easy task. It’s a fact we know well around here at My First Apartment because we’ve all been there, done that, and have plenty of “uh-oh” stories to tell. So, as you set out to furnish your new place and make it your first home away from home, watch out for these seven apartment furnishing mistakes that first time renters make all the time!
1. Buying Without a Plan in Mind
This is probably the BIGGEST mistakes that first time renters make when furnishing their new place, and it’s because it’s so easy to fall into this trap. You feel pressured to buy everything quickly, you feel pressured to make decision fast…so you just start buying like a crazy person with absolutely no plan in mind. But let us be clear, when this happens, you’re likely to spend too much, forget about major must-haves (bed, chair, table, etc.) and end up with a whole bunch of stuff you really don’t need. Don’t get us wrong — it’s totally fine to have a few nice non-essentials here and there throughout your new space, but make sure that you have all of the essentials purchased before you venture into this buying territory. Seriously, nothing is worse than realizing that because you bought that cool decor piece you now can’t afford a mattress or sheets. We know. We’ve all done it. You don’t want this, so establish a buying plan early and stick to it all the way through.
2. Not Setting a Budget at the Beginning
This is another one of those really BIG mistakes that first time renters make all the time when they set out to furnish their new space. And it’s killer. As you’ll soon learn, budgets are just a part of living on your own and you’re gonna need one for just about everything from monthly expenses to furnishing your first apartment. That said, start out your furnishing with a solid, realistic budget in mind, divvy it up according to your plan between essentials and nice-to-haves, and don’t EVER go over your set spending limit. Even if your budget is really low, make sure you plan how to use it. The last thing you need is to start going into debt before you move in.
3. Foregoing Price Comparisons Before Buying
When you have a clear idea about what you’ll need and how much you can spend, price comparisons are a major life and money saver. Before you make any big purchases, check out the price tag on comparable products, and always check out the cost difference between at least 3-4 other stores. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll save in the long run by taking just a few moments to do a search for the best price!
4. Buying Furniture Without Testing It First
Always test your furniture out before you buy it, especially any large items. We’re serious. Go to the store and sit on that couch or chair and lie on that mattress, or whatever you have your eye on before you buy it, especially if you plan to purchase online. Returns aren’t always possible, so make sure you REALLY like the piece before you hand over your money.
5. Not Measuring Before Buying
No matter where you live, measuring your space (and the hallways, elevator, front door, etc.) and the furniture is key to making sure the pieces you buy will actually fit into your apartment. Alas, many forget about this oh-so-important detail. In fact, in New York, they even have a service that will come and dismantle and reassemble your couch so it will fit through the door because this happens so often. That service is not cheap and having to return furniture can be even more expensive, with restocking fees and additional delivery costs. Don’t let this sort of a mess happen to you — measure, measure, and then measure again!
6. Not Considering Your Future Plans
When purchasing for your first apartment, it’s super important to keep your future plans in mind. For example, will you be heading off to a dorm room in a couple of years? Or will you be looking to move cross-country when your lease is up? Or did you just get your dream job and plan to stay put for a while. Your time horizon matters. If you already know you’ll be moving soon, do you want to sink all your savings into furnishing your place, or will you economize with used and hand-me-down pieces? These are things to think about. Just remember, it’s unlikely you’ll recoup your money if you need to sell your furniture when you move.
7. Buying Everything From One Store
Just because a store is cheap or offers free delivery doesn’t mean you should buy everything there. Why is that exactly? Very simply, it makes your apartment look like the store’s showroom rather a space that shows your personality and style. Your apartment is your new home, so make sure it reflects you by taking your time to find pieces you really like from a variety of different places.
Apartment renters — share your stories! What has been your biggest furniture mistake?