Your First Apartment

If you’re on your own for the first time, it’s time to break out your decorating style in a big way.  But with a tight budget, how can you find the basics you need in the style you want?

Hopefully, you won’t need to start from scratch and can take the basics of a bed and nightstand from Mom and Dad – don’t worry about the style, nightstands can repainted and decorated and you can add a stylish do-it-yourself headboard to the bed.  They’ll be glad to get rid of it, they’ve been eyeing your room for their next home office for a few years now.


Make a list of exactly what you need based on what you already have.  Don’t forget the important things such as:

  • Pots and Pans – Discount retailers such as Target and Walmart offer some great starter sets for reasonable prices.  Look for non-stick, thicker cookware – the thin, flimsy pieces are not what you want, they tip easily and burn food and just don’t do the job.  Go one or two steps up from the lowest price set.  Be advised that when they claim a 10 piece cookware set, they include the lids in that count.
  • Dishes and Glasses – Again, there are complete sets of glasses and dishes all in one convenient box to save you money.  Ikea offers some great, contemporary styles at affordable prices.  The discount stores tend to be not quite as nice and contemporary as the Ikea sets.
  • Cleaning Supplies – Head to the dollar store and load up on sponges, a mop, a broom and plenty of cleaners.  You’ll save over 50% from purchasing these items in grocery and discount stores.
  • Window Treatments – You need to cover the windows – don’t do the cheap plastic roller blinds, show a little more style – Ikea and Pier One usually have the best blinds, shades and curtains at the most reasonable prices.  Look for bamboo blinds and shades for an environmentally friendly option.
  • Linens – Walmart and Target tend to have a better offering of discounted bedding and towels – I favor Walmart for their towel selection and Target for the bedding – if you catch a clearance special, you can save a bundle.

Before you start shopping, devote one Saturday to hitting every yard sale in the area.  Plan your route and start early, take small bills since making change can be an issue early in the day.  In the afternoon, take stock of what you’ve found, and hit the local consignment shops as well to see if you can find other necessities.