Published on June 17, 2019

Moving into your first apartment can be a real point of pride. It’s your chance to splash your style onto every throw pillow and hallway vignette—your first real stab at becoming the Kelly Wearstler you always knew you were destined to be.

It can also be a source of major stress. Between coordinating U-Hauls and roommates, and amid finalizing tiny details and spending a large chunk of your savings, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. One way to quell the chaos: Consider making a “splurge versus save” guide to buying decor. Not only will this save you money down the road, but it will help you organize and prioritize your to-do list—which, if you have even the faintest glimmer of type A in you, is an instantly calming feat in and of itself.

To determine what constitutes an investment piece versus what you can hold off on, we tapped our Instagram audience. Everyone’s collective first apartment experiences delivered some serious wisdom; here’s what to know before taking the plunge on decorating your new space.

Lamp vs. Bedside Table

Splurge: Bedside Table

One way to bring bold style to your bedroom is by splurging on a sculptural bedside table. It’s a small statement, but one that elevates any room. Opt for an on-trend cane nightstand if your style errs on the rustic, natural side; otherwise, we’re deeply in love with this tomato red shelving unit from Hem. Play up the punchy color by complementing it with primary hues in the rest of your accent pieces—a cobalt blue alarm clock here, a smattering of citron throw pillows there.

Save: Lamp

This one was close, but 44 percent of readers said they’d save on a bedside lamp. Fortuitously, this is not a problem given the vast array of affordable lighting in the market right now. Check out Amazon’s Rivet collection for inexpensive mid-century pieces. If you’d like something a bit more colorful, consider either this army green lamp or this terracotta light—both are just about $100 and look a lot more expensive.

Rug vs. Sofa

Splurge: Sofa

By far the biggest landslide, 91 percent of you voted to splurge on a sofa as an investment piece. Given that this will likely be the focal point of your living room (or if you’re in a studio, the whole apartment), take your time hunting down the right one for your personal style. Go timeless with a cushy cream sofa, which can assimilate to whatever changing design aesthetics you throw at it in the coming years and is perfectly primed for Netflix binges with your roommate. Alternatively, Pop & Scott’s velvet ochre option offers a subtle pop of color in a sophisticated material.

Save: Rug

Just because it’s a “save” item doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on color. Both of these rugs will bring life to your floors—or cover dingy linoleum, if that’s your biggest rental bête noire—without breaking the bank. At under $300 each, they’re the perfect budget-friendly finishing touch your apartment needs.

Bed Frame vs. Mattress

Splurge: Mattress

Being that this is the option with potential repercussions for your health (think: back pain and a good night’s sleep), it makes sense that 90 percent of Domino readers picked a new mattress as a worthy splurge. Tuft & Needle’s provides the perfect balance of comfort and support. For the wellness-oriented decorator, Avocado’s organic mattress is entirely nontoxic. It also happens to have one Domino editor’s undying support: According to our social media editor, Alyssa, her best sleep ever came courtesy of this sustainable mattress.

Save: Bed Frame

You have years to save up for the upholstered, statement-making bed frame of your dreams. For now, save on a simpler silhouette (either wood for a Scandinavian look or steel for an industrial vibe) that’s under $500 and spice up your bedroom decor via colorful bedding instead. Try yellow linens to bring a dose of sunshine to your space.

See more tips for your first apartment:
Sarah Sherman Samuel, Nate Berkus, and More Share Their First Apartment Mistakes
Designers Dish on Their First Apartment Must-Haves
Your First Apartment Checklist Is Here

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