By Michelle Gage

Published on January 12, 2017

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Photography by PHUONG NGUYEN

Furnishing your first apartment can be a bit daunting. You need to select everything from plates and plants to rugs and lighting. When choosing décor, you don’t necessarily want to settle on something meh just because of budget. Luckily, there are a lot of great items out there that provide high style without breaking the bank. If you invest wisely, you can do more with your space than you think. Here are some tips that will help you navigate through all the options and select pieces you’ll love much longer than your college futon. 

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Start With a Neutral Sofa

A velvet gray sofa gives your space a timeless look. When selecting a sofa, comfort is key since this will be a heavily used piece in your home. Your sofa should not only serve as a great place for guests to gather but also a sweet spot for Friday night Netflix binging. This one is incredibly soft and priced perfectly. Just because you have a gray sofa doesn’t mean you can’t include color into your home. The biggest benefit of this particular piece is that you can bring bright textiles into your home and switch them out as trends change—in an affordable way.

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Add a Bit of Brass

Bring this bright brass table lamp into your home, and let it shine. This pretty piece plays double duty: It’s a stunning sculptural accent as well as a great source of light. Introducing metallic tones into your home is a great way to add a touch of glam to any space. For the price, you’d better snag two!

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Go Bold With Your Rug

When working with a neutral sofa, a rug is the right place to add a pop of color. This bold rug is going to easily hide stains and spills so you won’t worry about red wine when hosting friends and family. To bring the whole look together, pull out the pink tones and snag yourself some matching pillows.

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Photography by IKEA

Pick the Right Table

It’s easy to think you can spend all your nights eating take-out at your coffee table. However, as you become an adult, you will realize the importance of sitting down at a dining room table to enjoy your evening meals. This stylish piece works with nearly any chair and in any room. It seats four people—perfect for a potluck party or board games.

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Take a Seat

That rousing game of Apples to Apples is going to require a seat or two. Pick up some comfortable designer-like chairs for you and your friends. This dining table and chair set is sure to last you for years to come. You are going to get a lot of use out of these pieces.

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Build a Bar Cart

A drink station is something everyone in their twenties can use. If you are working with a smaller space, get a baby-sized bar cart. This sleek find is perfect for your collection of barware and booze. This piece will ensure you’re ready for any impromptu party.

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Pieces That do Double Duty

A colorful leather pouf plays two parts: as an extra seat and also as place to prop up your feet. This is the perfect way to introduce another material into the space. Let your boho dreams come alive with the fashion-friendly find.

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Photography by Urban Outfitters

Yes, You Need a Headboard

This is a commonly skipped piece of furniture, but we are here to tell you that you can’t get by with just a bed frame. If you buy the right headboard early on, you likely won’t need to purchase another one again. This statement bed is a great value. Paired with beautiful bedding, it’s all your bedroom needs to go from womp to wow!

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Pile on the Pillows

Pillows and paint are the most affordable ways to update your space. They are a great color vehicle for any room. For about twenty bucks a pop, you can snag a patterned pillow for your sofa or bed. Get a grouping of two or three for each zone, and you will see your space instantly come together. 

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Start an Art Collection

Much like financial investing, the earlier you start collecting art the better. And there are plenty of affordable ways to start acquiring art. You can hunt down the perfect pieces at thrift stores or local craft markets, and build it out slowly with smaller items that you acquire from artists when you travel. Sites like Minted.com take all the guesswork out by curating a selection that appeals to all.