I have a milestone birthday coming up. The big 3-0. The massive amount of skincare products I’ve purchased in the last few months might say otherwise, but I really haven’t been thinking much about getting older. I’ve spent more time reflecting back on the past decade. How have I changed? What am I going to avoid in the coming decade? Things like that. I could probably write a book here, but this is a home decor blog. So, I’m going to keep it on topic. I recently found an old picture of my first solo apartment. I was staring at it trying to figure out what I still loved, what I now hate, and what I would do differently if I had a redo.
You want to see? Ignore the image quality. Cell phone cameras have come a LONG way.
With my 20’s now firmly in the rearview, and a lot of moves under my belt, I’m sharing some of my suggestions on how to avoid apartment furniture you’re going to hate in 10 years. Maybe you’re just starting out. Maybe you’re starting over. Maybe you’re sending your kids off to college. This one’s for you
- Do not buy placeholder furniture. I’m not saying that everything has to be top quality. That’s not realistic. I’m saying don’t spend $200 on a coffee table you kind of like when the one you really want is $500 thinking you’ll buy the $500 one down the road. Why? Because by the time you buy the one you love, you’ll have spent $700. And if you move in that timeframe? You’ll have ALSO paid to move something you only kind of like.
- Buy the best mattress you can afford. No joke, the first mattress I purchased for myself was about $150 with delivery. In hindsight, I should have skipped some of the placeholder furniture I bought and gotten something a little nicer.
- Splurge on statement pieces. There are two things from my first living room I have zero regret over buying. One is a large abstract art print on canvas. I got it at Home Goods. At $150-ish, it was the most I’d ever spent on art. I still have it. I still love it. It’s currently hanging in our office. The other is a modern glass coffee table. It’s not my normal style, but I love it just as much now as I did when I bought it.
- Buy a comfy couch in a classic style. Picture this. My first first couch came in a big cube shaped box and the two halves of the couch screwed together in the middle. And there was a giant seam down the back because you know..two halves. My second couch (pictured) was a bit better. It was very pretty with sloped arms. However, it was barely deep enough to lay down on and it was not the least bit comfortable. Currently, I have Ektorp couches from IKEA. To be honest, if I could do it all over again, I would have just bought an Ektorp from the beginning. It’s a classic style and comfy.
- Keep your big pieces neutral and fairly classic. If you’re decorating your first place, your style is probably going to change a lot over the next few years. Keep the big expensive things neutral and classic. Things like kitchen tables, couches, bed frames, etc. Play around with less expensive things—like throw pillows or accessories.
- Don’t buy things you won’t use. Fun story. My first apartment had bar seating. So, of course, I bought bar stools. Here’s the kicker. I’m about 4’11” and the stools were so tall I couldn’t get into them without a step stool. So, I never used them. Not once. My current house? Not a bar stool in sight.
- It doesn’t all have to be finished right this second. It’s okay to take your time decorating. Have fun with it. Figure out what you do and don’t like. There’s no rule that says your apartment has to be decorated within the first month. Or even the first year.
- Estate sales and thrift stores are your friends. You might have to do some digging, but you can find quality pieces at great prices.
- If it makes you ridiculously happy when you look at it and it won’t completely break the bank, YOLO.
So, with all these suggestions, how would I furnish my first apartment? Great question.
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I would probably do something like this. The art is a little bit of a splurge, but everything else is relatively affordable. Plus, pale blue is hands down my favorite color to decorate with. I linked to a few other options below.