The thrill and excitement that comes with getting the keys to your first apartment is exhilarating. You finally get the freedom to decorate your own room, be the pad that hosts dinner parties or happy hours, and start cultivating your own personal nest in the city. Plus, it also marks an important milestone in the beginning of your young adult life.
Whenever I knew I would be moving, the first thing I would do was design a Pinterest board for decor and inspiration. Immediately, I would be perusing the internet for tips and tricks on how to make my space look stellar, while pinning photos for color palette and mood board inspiration. My first apartment out of college consisted of a tiny bedroom (It seriously only fit my bed and a bookcase) in a three bedroom apartment and my first time living alone after college was in a 300 square foot studio. Although I ended up creating a space I loved in each environment, there was no questioning that every inch needed functionality and design imbedded into it.
As I reflect on my first few homes and what I would do differently, I realize I made some savvy and not so savvy decisions when it came to purchasing items for my home. Keep on reading to learn more about the do’s and don’ts when decorating and furnishing your first apartment!
BUY SECONDHAND FURNITURE AND DECOR ACCESSORIES
Okay, a fun fact about me is that I have expensive taste. My Pinterest boards always illustrate an extravagant taste in interior design and I love being creative with how spaces can evoke an emotion when you’re in them. You should also know that I hate spending money unnecessarily.
If the first thing I would do was make a Pinterest board, then the second thing I would do is check Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to find dupes or similar styles of the pieces that caught my eye! Maybe my Pinterest board had French chateau style decor, but my budget certainly could not keep up. To compensate, I would look for vintage decor that emulated French Parisian design. I would incorporate this through a vintage bust, a gold trimmed ornate vanity mirror, or a Paris travel guide book that I could place on my coffee table. I started with small touches like this to introduce elements I loved without breaking the bank.
I believe it is truly essential to buy secondhand decor and furniture when you are living in your first apartment. How come? Well, you’re still defining your lifestyle and preferences within your first few years out of college. It would be a shame to spend large sums of money on expensive furniture catered to your first apartment or first job that you could quickly outgrow or that won’t realistically transition with you to your future homes.
For my first apartment, I scoured the internet to land the best deal on things like my bed frame (a $3,500 Restoration Hardware headboard heavy beast that I snagged for under $400), a comfortable couch (a suede gray tufted couch that I scored for $15 at Goodwill), dresser, dining tables and chairs. I would also pick-up large artwork, ornate mirrors, or vintage books secondhand at thrift shops like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and other local resale shops. This allowed me to easily swap out pieces for a fresh look throughout my different apartments without making a huge dent in my wallet. T
he best part was, since I was living with roommates, I wasn’t as delicate about damages that would occur from normal day-to-day use. I knew I had paid an affordable price and when I moved out, I felt comfortable selling the pieces because I knew I wasn’t going to be losing a lot of money on the original cost. There are still some pieces I have in my furniture collection today from this era even!
SPLURGE ON COMFORTABLE HIGH QUALITY BEDDING
While I absolutely recommend purchasing furniture and decor secondhand, I did choose to invest in certain new items when transitioning into my new apartment. Anything regarding bedding is a sound investment, if you ask me. Whether it’s comfortable new king sized pillows from Amazon, a silk pillowcase, a cozy fluffy comforter, or high quality white cotton sheets, I splurged on these items to create a comfortable and desirable sleeping environment that I could take to every apartment. This is also a material that your body and skin are constantly coming into contact with, so splurging on fabrics that are higher quality will pay off.
INVEST IN HIGH QUALITY KITCHEN-WARE
If you’re like me, you love to cook and eat! Meal prepping, baking, or just day-to-day cooking requires a variety of utensils and pots or pans. My strong suggestion is to make the investment in your kitchen-ware items and to purchase high quality items. Pick a basic set of high quality pots and pans to prepare meals in, stainless steel silverware, a sharp knives set, colorful plates, and a matching set of drinking glasses. If you pick something in a neutral color, even better! You can always snag the champagne flutes and floral teapots after, but start with these basics first. You can transition these pieces with you to every apartment, even if your tastes change, and they are practical to use on a daily basis.
In addition, a lot of lower quality kitchen-ware can leak toxins or metals into your food when heated to different temperatures, so it’s typically better to take the safe route with things you ingest. I did not make this a priority and I chose the fashion over function with my kitchen-ware. While my gold pans and spatulas looked cute visually, they essentially fell apart quickly. My plastic Tupperware would get warped in the dishwasher, the pots were not temperature resistant and my food constantly would stick to them, and my knives were not high quality, making chopping vegetables a pain. One knife even completely broke in half when I was cutting ingredients for a meal! Investing in a strong kitchen set you can build on is a great place to spend your money and it is something you can take with you wherever you move.
At the end of the day, it is your decision where you invest your money when moving into your new apartment. Naturally, as I grew more into myself and my career, my needs and taste changed and I was able to upgrade to different select pieces that fit my long-term needs and taste over time.
While I was happy I saved my money when it came to expensive furniture and decorations, I found myself constantly repurchasing low quality kitchen items to keep up with the ones that were getting damaged. At the end of the day, moving into your first apartment and starting from scratch is a big feat in it of itself. Make things easier on you and your wallet by saving money on your furnishings and decor and investing in the pieces that you will get routine and daily use out of. Keep these tips in mind when you get the keys to your new place and you’re thinking of what to throw on your “must haves” list!