Furnishing your first apartment: our tips

Are you are moving into your first apartment? Congratulations! Now it's time to start making some decisions: how do you want to furnish your new apartment? And how much money do you want to spend? We'll show you what to look out for when furnishing your first apartment and provide tips on where you can save money.

1. Set your budget

Obviously, the vast majority of people don’t have an unlimited budget when moving into their first apartment. Often, they have just completed an apprenticeship or started university and have to rein in their expenditure as much as possible. Maybe you have saved up or your parents are helping you? Excellent! Then you have a good overview of your available budget.

Our tip: be sure to set a fixed budget for furnishing your apartment and don’t exceed it. Your budget should be a maximum of 80% of your actual disposable funds. After all, you always need emergency funds, and you can be sure that you will forget to include something in your plans that you subsequently have to buy. So set a clear limit and plan your furnishings within your budget.

2. Checklist: what do I need in my first apartment?

Before you start Googling: yes, checklists for furnishing your first apartment are ten a penny on the internet. And yes, they can help you gain an overview of what you need in an apartment.

However, you want to furnish your own place according to your own needs and personal taste. In addition, internet checklists don’t know what you may already have and therefore don’t need to buy. So sit down and make a list of what you really need. Set aside the floor plan for your new apartment and walk from room to room: which furniture needs to go where? How much space do you have? Which furniture do you need to buy, and which do you already have?

Our tip: make your own checklist for your own apartment. Make a note of both furniture and accessories, kitchen equipment, bathroom items, cleaning appliances, tools, etc. Maybe go through every room at your parents’ house. You are sure to notice something you would have forgotten. When you have finished, divide up your list: one page for everything you don’t already own. On the other page, write down what you can take from your parents’ house or what you may have already bought.

Furnishing your first apartment: our tips

3. Don’t stress: not everything has to be perfect

You could actually start looking for furniture now. But stop! Before you hit the shops, we would like to give you some advice that we believe is really important: your first apartment doesn’t have to be perfect from the outset. It doesn’t need to win the next interior design award or launch a style blog. The internet is teeming with perfectly furnished rooms and apartments featuring expensive designer furniture and hand-picked ‘must-have pieces’. But let’s be honest, homes don’t look like that in reality and certainly not in everyday life, when decorative items sometimes get dusty, mail is left lying around on the table and dirty dishes pile up in the kitchen.

Our tip: stay pragmatic. And stick to your budget. Your first apartment should be comfortable, you should feel at ease and look forward to coming home. But it doesn’t have to be perfect. You will have plenty of time to change or improve things after you have moved in (when your budget has recovered a little).

4. And now it's time to choose furniture and furnishings!

You've prepared your checklist, now you can work your way through it. It's time to find furniture and furnishings that you need, that you like, that suit your apartment and that don’t exceed your budget.

Our savings tip: you don’t always have to buy everything new – you can also take a look at second-hand furniture. It is often in excellent condition. Reusing items will save you money and is sustainable. There are also plenty of websites selling second-hand vintage furniture. You might even find a smart, affordable designer piece. Of course, you can also be creative: Euro pallets as bed frames or bedside tables always look cool and unique in your bedroom. You can easily make your own desk by placing an attractive sheet of wood from the DIY store on top of two Swedish-designed chests of drawers. Or place two wine crates next to each other to form a stylish coffee table in your lounge (where you can also store wine bottles, of course).

When buying new furniture, we recommend a simple, timeless design. Such items usually go with everything else (and each other) and you can use decorative items and accessories to customise them if required. And if you don’t want to keep simple furniture for as long as you planned, it is very easy to resell.

If your new apartment doesn’t have much space or only has one room, you should definitely look at multipurpose furniture. For example, you can kill two birds with one stone with a sofa bed: during the day you have a lounge with a sofa to relax on. At night, you can turn it into a bedroom with a comfortable bed. An extendable dining table or bar unit with stools makes a suitable dining area. Folding chairs can disappear behind a cupboard or door and quickly be retrieved when you have visitors. No room for a wardrobe? Maybe a clothes rail behind a curtain and a couple of chests of drawers will do. The floor plan will also help with this: think about exactly what you need and how much space you have. This will allow you to optimally design your apartment.

5. Paint the walls. Or maybe not?

Of course, colour will give your apartment a cosy feel and highlight your individual style. However, you don’t usually stay in your first apartment forever. So think carefully about whether you really want to paint the walls. As a tenant, you will be obliged to restore your apartment to its original condition when you move out, otherwise your landlord could withhold your deposit. So this is not only time-consuming, but also expensive, twice as much in fact when moving in and out.

Our tip: save yourself money and time and leave the walls of your first apartment white for now. White is ideal for smaller rooms anyway, because it is bright and makes them look bigger. You can add your individual finishing touch with colourful accessories and the right lighting concept.

6. Finally: add accessories

When your furniture is in place and the décor is complete, you can start adding accessories. Here too, you can opt for affordable solutions and still create a cool look. Prints, posters or funny postcards in simple frames look smart and modern. You can turn empty wine or gin bottles into stylish vases. Maybe you've brought some items with you from home? Personal objects will quickly make you feel at home in your first apartment.

Our tip: when adding accessories, be sure to follow a uniform colour scheme and avoid using too many different materials. Accessories don’t look good on their own. Group them in odd numbers to create a smart, stylish look.

We hope you have a lot of fun furnishing your first apartment!

The following articles on furnishing might also interest you:

Furnishing your apartment: tips and tricks
Furnishing your living room: nice and cosy
Furnishing your bedroom: our tips
Designing your kitchen: what to keep in mind
Designing your bathroom: our ten tips
Furnishing guest rooms: feels like home
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