How to Furnish Your First Apartment

How to Furnish Your First Apartment
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Written by Brittany Wren

Facing the bare walls and empty space of your first apartment can be intimidating. Especially the night before you invite your best friends over and you realize they will have nothing to look at. Or sit on. Well, it’s time to furnish  your first apartment.

With so many decorating options in front of you, it may seem like cultivating a warm and intimate home environment is a slow process that may not end until your lease is up. Here’s how to make your new space feel like a home and get a jumpstart on furnishing and decorating your first apartment.

8 Tips on How to Furnish Your First Apartment

1. Sturdy Staples

The first must-have items you should invest in are a sturdy bed, table and chairs. The best bang for your buck is a hand-me-down or a Craigslist purchase which you can easily freshen up with a coat of primer and black or white paint in a semi- or high-gloss finish.

2. Wall Tapestries

One of the fastest and easiest ways to add artistic flair to your apartment is to hang wall tapestries. Mandala tapestries are remarkably therapeutic, making your living space feel open, while tapestries with a geometric or color block design can infuse your space with instant sophistication.

3. Unique Posters

For pops of color without the fine art price tag, look to vintage posters or art prints by independent artists. You can find great deals at or Society6. Pick a theme or artist you like and buy at least four posters in similar sizes to hang in a collage. If you’re not afraid of losing your deposit, or if your apartment allows small holes in the walls, get affordable Ikea frames to hang.

4. Removable Wallpaper

To create a statement wall in a small space and still keep your security deposit, try removable self-adhesive wallpaper. With many pattern and color options on the market, you can quickly transform a blank wall into a space loaded with personality.

5. Bold Accents

Choose one to three bold accent colors for a few cozy throws, cushions and area rugs. Layer these on a neutral palette for a fresh, pulled-together look. Browse great, wallet-friendly options online at Zara Home or H&M Home.

6. Photos

Don’t delay in displaying photos of your friends, family and happy moments in your new apartment. In fact, research about therapeutic environments suggests that pictures remind you of who you are and make you feel more grounded. So put up a photo collage, clip photos on wires strung across a long wall, or create a DIY photo chandelier to hang from the ceiling in an empty corner.

7. Organization

Deciding on a system of organization will be the toughest part, but the comfort of an orderly home? Priceless. In fact, psychologists believe that organization helps you feel more in control of your life and gives you more mental energy. Then shelves or cube storage work great for organizing books, shoes, pantry items, entryway accessories or even clothes. Head to your nearest Container Store for inspiration.

8. Great Lighting

Nothing makes a space feel cozy quite like good accent lighting. In fact, experts agree that lighting can mean the difference between a pleasant, relaxed room and an unpleasant, tense room. So make sure you have at least one bedside lamp, and one or two lamps for accent or task lighting in your living space. A ceramic lamp base in an interesting color or shape can also double as a sculpture. There you have it, so check out Target or Lamps Plus for fun, affordable options.

Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement. We ask that every contributor and expert answer  the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring  you to Get All A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally?Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.

I have accepted that I need time at home to recharge my mental and emotional batteries. That means letting go of the pressure to always be going somewhere, working on something or being with someone.

2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?

Lately I’ve appreciated being able to say “no.” Being clear with others about my expectations for my own life helps me keep everything in balance, and I think people appreciate that kind of honesty.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the  goals and dreams that you still have.

Turning a run-down, 120+ year old house into a cozy home is so fun and makes me feel powerful. It is (and will be for a while…) a work in progress.

4. Of course, we all have imperfections, or so we think. In truth, we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways?  Likewise, what imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

I get really obsessive about details, and learning to let go of those things can be a struggle sometimes.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to appreciate and express all the positive traits that make you…well…YOU! In fact, sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (We assure you!) Therefore, Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

Strategic brain. And accept when my husband and I play chess – then it can cause some marital strife!

About the author

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Brittany Wren

Brittany Wren works in higher education. She's all about backpacking, traveling, poetry and good coffee. On the weekend, you're likely to find her with her nose in a book or working on (a seemingly endless supply of) house projects in her 100-year-old home.

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