Tips on decorating your first apartment

So you've finally found the perfect apartment. Or at least, perfect-for-right-now. The neighbors are friendly, your commute isn't too bad to work or school and you already have the phone number to a great pizza delivery place nearby. Everything is ready to go right? Except one tiny detail: The only furniture you own is a twin mattress and a laundry basket. Uh oh.

It happens to everyone the first time they live on their own. You've already spent most of your money on first month's rent, the deposit and getting various utilities turned on and what's left over needs to go towards having some basic food around like bread and peanut butter. Even thinking of everything your apartment needs to feel like home can be overwhelming. But there's no need to fret, no one expect your first apartment to be in Architectural Digest anytime soon.

  1. Take it easy on yourself. What are the absolute basics you need to be comfortable? For the first month at least, you can get by with maybe just a comfy chair, some pots and pans, a tv and/or computer, bed and sheets.
  2. Put aside money early for basic furnishings. Most financial experts recommend you put aside 30% of your paycheck until you can pay for three months rent, plus the deposit. If you can save a bit more or for a bit longer, you'll have enough for the initial move in.
  3. Make a list of what you absolutely need when you move in. These can include the obvious (ex: mattress) and the not-so obvious (ex: toilet cleaner). Check your new apartment before you move in to see what your landlord has already provided. No one likes the shock of not having a shower rod!
  4. Look at your list and see what you can improvise. Silverware doesn't need to be organized in a drawer right away, but can be held in some bright cups or a cute coffee tin on top of the kitchen cabinet. Use old mason jars for glasses or to store salt and pepper. Have a comfy lawn chair ready in case a guest stops by. As time goes on you can replace these items with the real thing.
  5. Ask around. Many of your friends may have a spare coffee table sitting in their garage or have recently have replaced their dish set or (for reasons unknown to them) have amassed six televisions for two people. Lots of people have stuff they don't need and would be more than happy to give it to someone who does.
  6. The easiest way to brighten up an apartment (especially one with wood floors) is buy a few small rugs. Many can be found in major stores like IKEA or Target or thrift stores or through Craigslist.
  7. Check websites and magazines like Readymade or Make Magazine or Martha Stewart Living for lots of neat, cheap and crafty ideas for your apartment.

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