56% of People Agree: This Is the Age When You Should Graduate From Starter Furniture

Plus three budget-friendly ideas for moving on.

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Photography by Belle Morizio; Styling by Julia Stevens

Everyone remembers the furniture they bought for their very first place. Whether it was the tiny nightstand you crammed into your dorm room or the lumpy futon–turned–crash pad in your “real” apartment, those affordable and often flimsy starter staples represent a rite of passage for every young adult. But just as with college, it seems there’s a time you’re meant to graduate from the fundamentals. According to a recent survey from bedding brand Avocado Green Mattress that polled 2,000 Americans, 56 percent of people believe it’s only acceptable to have those fast-furniture items until a certain age. So at what point have you reached your prime? Most people believe you should dump your cheap pieces by age 28.

With more sustainable, higher-quality materials often clashing with the smaller budgets of first-time renters or homeowners, it’s not always easy striking a middle ground between trendy big-box products and timeless finds. These ideas will help you move beyond the basics without breaking the bank. 

Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Become a Craigslist Pro 

The idea that the online marketplace is only a hotbed for scam artists isn’t the whole truth. When you learn to navigate the platform with a strategy, it quickly becomes a treasure trove for well-crafted home goods at a fraction of retail prices. Download the app, keep tabs on sellers you like, and always—always!—negotiate. 

Go for Elevated Entry Level

When you’re ready to move pass old reliables like Target, Wayfair, and Amazon, but not quite ready to leap into 1stDibs territory, there are plenty of midlevel brands you can scour. Some of our favorite direct-to-consumer shops, like CB2 and Urban Outfitters, typically land between big-box retailers and high-end makers, so while you won’t find a coffee table for $50, it’ll be in your life longer than one semester. 

Try a DIY

IKEA’s accessible price points, versatility, and, best of all, hackability are all part of the brand’s cult-favorite appeal. With a little creativity and the willingness to be hands on, the pieces can stay in rotation well beyond your roommate years. From faux marble tables to sculptural storage, with these epic transformations in your toolkit, you can repurpose some of your fast-furniture finds over and over again.