New Apartment Decorating Ideas to Set Up Your Place from Scratch (And On A Budget)


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Moving into your first apartment is great. So is the to-do list, especially if you’re decorating from scratch and on a budget. Before doing anything, make sure change your address with the USPS. Once you’ve done that, you are ready to think about decorating your new apartment. These apartment decorating ideas come with a basic shopping list to start with. The list focuses on the items in each room that create the most impact on your budget.

When moving into a new apartment, your first task is to choose two spaces that you want to prioritize first. The living room and bedroom are probably the two most important spaces in your home. They can also be the two rooms that require the most investment. Whichever rooms you want to address first, visualize how you will use the room to furnish it. Focus on quality over quantity. To get started, take a look at these apartment decorating ideas and see which one gives you the most inspiration.

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General apartment decorating ideas

There are a couple of items that you should consider adding to each room in your apartment. They are affordable and make a big difference to the look of the room.

General shopping list for your new apartment:

  • Window treatments for each room
  • Two light fixtures per room

Window treatments

Nothing makes a room look unfinished faster than bare windows. Not to mention, you will lack privacy. Whether you go with simple blinds or curtains and a curtain rod, be sure to add window treatments to every room in your new apartment. Not sure which type to buy? Choose a simple neutral shade. You can always add a second curtain panel with a geometric print or bold color.

Lighting fixtures

Changing boring, basic lamps can make a big difference to the look and function of your room. Some lighting fixture ideas include:

  • Pendant lights
  • A more stylish replacement pendant lamp
  • Wall sconces
  • Table lamps
  • A floor lamp
  • Battery Powered LED Under Cabinet Lighting

As a general rule of thumb, try to have two different light sources in each room. For example, add a floor lamp and ceiling lamp in your living room, a table lamp and pendant in your bedroom, and a ceiling lamp and under-cabinet lighting in your kitchen.

Buy all the accessories at once to create a sense of fluidity in the apartment. If useful, you can install them yourself. Or if you prefer not to work with electricity, call an electrician or take advantage of Amazon’s new home service line.

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Apartment decorating ideas for your new entrance

Do you have a designated entrance? Take advantage of the space by adding some function to it.

Input shopping list:

Narrow table, cabinet or bench

This will be your focal point of entry and the key point for keys, bags, and mail. A narrow article will keep the area from feeling closed. Look for a piece that has additional storage like drawers, shelves, or cabinets. If you need a place to sit and take off or put your shoes on, consider adding a bench that can double as an entry table and a dressing room bench. Choose one with storageor one with high legs where you can put baskets for shoes and other objects.


Hang a mirror over your table or bench. A mirror adds vertical height to the setup and allows you to give yourself control when you come and go. Mirrors also do a great job of expanding small spaces.

Wall hooks

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Add a series of wall hooks or a wall shelf in your entryway to organize jackets and backpacks. If you have a lot of small items like umbrellas and hats, hang a duffel bag on one of the hooks to hold them.

Apartment decorating ideas for the living room

How will you use the living room? You probably need a quality sofa and a place to get up. Will there be a TV in your living room? Where will your devices go?

Living room shopping list:


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The sofa is the star of the living room, so invest carefully. It is advisable to choose the largest that can fit in the space. Don’t worry if it’s a small living room; There are many small apartment sofas that are just as stylish and comfortable as the larger ones. If your budget is limited, buy your sofa second hand. Antique or antique sofas are well made, and you can always put a cover over one to refresh it.

Coffee table

The next piece to consider should do double duty: the coffee table. Don’t be limited by the word “table” either; an ottoman is a great substitute. If space allows, select a narrow rectangular ottoman that will double as a bench or table. You can add a tray on top to put the drinks. Additionally, many ottomans come with interior storage for blankets and magazines.


You probably have a big white wall behind your couch space to deal with. If you rent, it may not be possible to paint or wallpaper. However, strategically placing a collection of framed objects or photos, gallery-style, may be all you need. Alternatively, hang a rug or tapestry on the wall to add some color and texture to your living room.

tv cabinet

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A TV or media cabinet is a great piece of furniture to include in your initial living room decorating plan, even if you mount your TV on the wall. Add storage to your living room for more than just your media. Choose a narrow style with many shelves, doors, and drawers for optimal use of space.

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Apartment decorating ideas for the kitchen / dining room

You may have a designated dining area, or maybe just a small nook for breakfast or a kitchen with an island and stools. Whatever the case, there are a few essentials to get the most out of your dining room and kitchen.

Kitchen / Dining Shopping List:

  • A table and chairs
  • Table runner

Table and chairs

Choose a versatile table that can serve many purposes; will use it frequently. Splurge on the table and look for second-hand chairs if you can’t afford both. If your kitchen will also serve as a dining area, consider adding one of these kitchen island ideas with stools or a tall bar table instead of a dining table. A taller table setting can serve as a dining and breakfast table, food preparation and storage place, and mini office space.

Table runner

A table runner it is a long strip of fabric that adds a touch of color or style to your table. Unlike a tablecloth, which covers the entire surface, a table runner adds a fringe on the table for a more modern feel. The simple act of including a runner can add a sense of design to your table and make your table setting more interesting.

Apartment decorating ideas for the bedroom

Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Focus on keeping the space clear, cozy, and quiet. Don’t fall into the trap of buying a complete bedroom set; Better to have a sublime bed and a nightstand or two than an overloaded six-piece bedroom set.

New apartment shopping list for the bedroom:


Invest in the best and most comfortable mattress you can afford. After all, you will be spending more time on your mattress than anywhere else in your new apartment. Save your creative budget for the rest of the room.


A headboard is fresh, modern, and perfect for small rooms. Even if you don’t have the space or budget for a bed frame, never skip the headboard; Complete the look of your bedroom like nothing else. If cash is scarce, check out these headboard ideas.


Depending on the size of your new bedroom, you can choose a small side table or a traditional nightstand. Also don’t feel like you have to get a matching pair; Mixing and matching nightstands is a fun design choice.

Closet organization

If you don’t use your closet efficiently, clothes, shoes, and sundries will inevitably end up in your bedroom space. Some closet organization items to consider are:

For more ideas on how to organize your closet, especially if it’s small, check out these closet-free, small closet ideas.

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Start with these essentials and live with them for a while. As you get to know your new apartment, you will come up with ideas about what else you may need. Continue layering your space with more items as your budget allows. Which rooms will you decorate first in your new apartment?


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