It’s important to remember one thing when you move into your first place: one day, you will move to your second place.
The reason I say this is because so many people make the mistake of spending tons of money on furniture and décor that they might toss to the curb when it’s time to move out. When I moved out of my college dorm, for example, 95% of what I brought to my dorm was thrown in the garbage; chairs, microwaves, curtains. I didn’t feel like hauling a bunch of stuff from my dorm to my car; plus, who I was when I moved in was NOT who I was when I moved out. Decorating and design are a reflection of who you are, which is why it’s constantly evolving.
That’s why it’s so important to think realistically when you start decorating your first place. Buying every piece of furniture new would be a waste of money, especially since your furniture will be traveling with you. So I’ve come up with a first apartment edition of “splurge or save”.
The best piece of advice I have is to never buy a secondhand couch or bed; especially not from Craigslist. Go to a place a discount furniture place and get a very basic, transitional couch. You can change the look of the couch with pillows, or even a cover. Seriously, a couch can go from shabby chic to modern in 5 minutes if you have the right pillows.
Also, you’ll probably have a few guests crashing on it. You don’t have to splurge per say, but spend some money on something comfortable. Bonus points if your couch folds out into a bed.
Rugs are ideal for renters. They’re easy to move from one place to another, and they can cover up old dingy carpeting. My mom bought me my first 8×10 rug in 2008 and I only just recently stopped using it in the living room. A quality rug will last you 10 years. Here’s my rug that served me so well.
Also, a word to the wise: indoor/outdoor rugs and carpet remnants are always cheaper than actual rugs. You can get an 8×10 for under $100;. Plus, they’re usually only one color so they can conform to any style.
Décor is tricky; splurge on big focal pieces like vases, bowls, baskets, and the like. Save on anything that would be considered an “accent” (lamps, couch pillows, curtains) because accents are always changing with your style.
Side Tables: Save
As I mentioned before, accents are constantly changing with your style, so always buy things like side or accent tables secondhand. Don’t shy away from DIY; if you have a balcony, you can probably sand and paint a small table with minimal mess. You’d be surprised at the amount of renter-friendly DIY projects there are out there.
No one is a fan of bare walls, but don’t spend money buying prints or posters; instead, draw inspiration from your décor and furniture and create your own art based on the rest of your place. You don’t even have to buy a fancy canvas! Paint on a piece of paper and frame it using an oversized poster frame. You don’t have to be an artist to make art. You could channel your inner Mark Rothko with just a few colors.
Another great option is to take a few simple black and white photos of things you like and group them on your wall in similar frames for cool, up-to-date look.
Our blogger, Olivia Glendale, is a DIY and decorating nerd. She blogs about her DIY highs and lows at DIY Mother, and in her free time pins or Googles pictures of Ryan Gosling (it never gets old).