Save or Splurge: Furniture & Decor

So you’re finally in your new place and it looks…drab. That’s pretty common in rental apartments. They specialize in beige: carpets, walls, counters…you get the picture. If you didn’t bring much apartment decor with you during your move, you’re probably eager to get started on sprucing the place up. But, what items deserve a splurge, and what deserves less?shutterstock_166597286

Furniture: SPLURGE

Don’t go overboard, but choose pieces that you know will last a long time and ones you really like. Instead of buying a flimsy kitchen table and dresser, get a sturdy one from Goodwill, Ikea, Target, or other stores where you can find good pieces at a decent price.  Go for solid wood ones if they fit your budget. As for a sofa and bed, think comfort! You can buy a couch from a thrift store, but will you ever really be comfortable lounging on what someone else left behind? My advice here isn’t to spend thousands, but instead recognize what splurges are worthwhile, budget for them, and enjoy your new furniture for years to come.

Make a point to create a realistic furnishing budget, decide what you are essentials & what are “nice-to-have’s” and stick to it. Plus, check your local thrift stores before making any big purchases. Sometimes they’re a bust, but there can absolutely be some great pieces for veryyy cheap!

Ed. comment: When you know that you’ll be living in your new place only one year,  before buying consider how “movable” your new furniture will be.  If you think you’ll need to hire movers with a truck to take your sofa to your next place, maybe go for a futon that fits in a station wagon.

Decor: SAVE

Yes, I think furniture deserves a few extra bucks. But other decor? Not so much. You can find cheap shelves to hang, re-purpose items from thrift shops (like shelves, artwork, picture frames) and use those to make your space your own. No one is going to care if you have a lavish painting in your first apartment, so decor is one area you can really save in. Also, decorating can be an on-going process so these small expenses don’t have to all add up at one time.


There’s no reason to turn your first apartment into a fancy gallery. No matter what, you’ll make messes and mistakes, and having fancy artwork may not be the smartest choice. Look at the thrift store, buy posters on Amazon, or paint canvases yourself. Some of my favorite parts of my wall decor are things I have made myself! Check out some DIY solutions for bare walls: Thrifty Wall Art, Spice Up Your Walls, Hanging Photo Display.

Since furniture hosts functionality, “splurging” within your budget may be your best bet. Keep in mind that furniture doesn’t last forever, whether you buy new or buy used. Decor on the other hand is a great way to save a few bucks. Use your creativity, thrift shopping skills, and personality to make your apartment your own.

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Author My First Apartment

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Sarah is a dog lover and advocate for conversation & laughing at your own jokes. Since finishing her college career in communications, she began working (and living) in Atlanta. After living in a few different apartments over the last few years, she's ready to share experiences. Stay tuned for adventures, tips and advice!

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