Moving into a new apartment is an exciting step forward and a great opportunity for a decor refresh. However, figuring out how to furnish an apartment on a budget can be challenging, especially for young adults moving out on their own for the first time. 

Even if you don’t have much money to spend on your furniture, there are plenty of cheap ways to furnish an apartment without compromising your style. Here are some of our top tips for apartment decorating on a budget

How Much Does it Cost to Furnish an Apartment

Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast answer to this question because it depends on how much space you have, your style and your budget. That said, the average cost to furnish an apartment is roughly $3,000 to $5,500. Larger apartments with multiple bedrooms could cost more. 

However, that doesn’t mean you have to spend this much money — there are plenty of ways to get creative and find furniture and decor at a discount. Setting a budget before you move is key, as it will guide your shopping process and help you avoid overspending. Having a budget will also make it easier to save up for the pieces you need most. 

Creating a Budget

To create a budget for your apartment, first determine which furniture pieces you need and which items you want. Then, estimate how much you can spend on each to create a budget. 

For most people, a bed, table and chairs are the top priority. You may also need a dresser or bookshelf, depending on storage space. If you work or study from home, you’ll need a desk. 

It’s also important to consider your ‘wants’ — items that aren’t essential but that you’d still like to prioritize if possible. For example, maybe you’d like to invest in a high-quality TV or unique artwork. Think about ways these items could fit into your budget without compromising your ability to buy essentials.

Once you know what you need, research how much each piece can cost, finding options at various price points. For example, you might look at mass retailers like IKEA and Wayfair, but you should also look at secondhand or wholesale options to save money. This research will help you build your budget. 

Hidden Furnishing Costs 

When learning how to furnish an apartment on a budget, make sure you build in some wiggle room. This is because furnishing an apartment can come with some costs you may not think of initially. 

For example, even if you find an amazing couch at a bargain price on Facebook Marketplace, you still need to get it to your new place. Will you need to rent a van or pay someone to help you move it? Some furniture requires professional assembly or cleaning, which adds extra costs. Even DIY projects may come with hidden fees, as you’ll have to pay for the materials you use. 

Cheap Ways to Furnish an Apartment

Don’t let a tight budget deter you from furnishing your apartment how you want. With a little creativity, apartment decorating on a budget can be fun! The key is to be persistent and open-minded. 

Keep in mind that your apartment doesn’t have to be perfect right away. Once you’ve moved in and found your essentials, you can take your time searching for the perfect accent pieces and decor. 

Shopping secondhand is one of the most effective ways to find affordable furniture and decor. Used pieces are tend to be very reasonably priced and as a bonus, they’re often unique and might even have a fun backstory. 

If you’re crafty, you can make your furniture with a DIY project. The advantage of this approach is that you can fully customize each piece, but it does take more time and effort. 

If you don’t have the time for secondhand shopping or DIY-ing, don’t worry — plenty of mass retailers offer affordable furniture. We’ve already mentioned IKEA and Wayfair, but check out your local Target, Walmart and Costco as well. 

Secondhand Shopping Guide

There are many different ways to for secondhand. The first is to head to your local thrift, antique and consignment stores to see what’s available. You’ll be able to browse your options and enjoy hunting for treasure, but you’ll also have to find a way to get your furniture home. 

There are many online platforms for secondhand shopping. Facebook Marketplace is among the most popular and effective ways to look for secondhand items online. Still, there are a variety of smaller used furniture stores, including Kaiyo, Chairish and Etsy. 

Small Apartment Living Room Ideas on a Budget

When you’re shopping on a budget, aim to make every piece count. If you’re seeking small apartment living room ideas on a budget, start by looking for furniture that can pull double duty. For example, opt for a coffee table with built-in storage, or a couch that becomes a comfy bed for overnight guests. 

A simple, and very effective, trick for making a room feel larger is to use mirrors. Hanging and freestanding mirrors are easy to find at thrift stores and online, making them an affordable solution for small spaces. 

Maximizing Limited Space

In addition to using multi-functional furniture, it’s also important to make sure you’re taking advantage of all of the vertical space you have. Install shelving on the walls for extra storage and seek opportunities to incorporate storage into your furniture. 

When working with limited space, you will probably have to focus on what’s most important to you rather than defaulting to a traditional layout. Who says you can’t use your living room as a workout space or the breakfast nook as your craft studio?  

Incorporating Personal Style

Let your personality shine through! Focus on what makes you feel best rather than prioritizing Pinterest-perfect trends. There are plenty of ways to personalize your space without breaking the bank. One great option is the National Gallery of Art’s collection of open-access images, which you can download for free, print and hang. 

The Apartment of Your Dreams, on a Budget

Don’t let your budget keep you from making your apartment feel like home. Basic, secondhand and DIY furniture will save you money and make your apartment a unique reflection of your personality. 

Are you looking for an apartment in the Washington, D.C., or Baltimore metro areas? Southern Management Companies has beautiful properties throughout the region at a number of price points. Reach out today to learn more about our apartments. We can’t wait to welcome you home!