How To Furnish Your First Place: 7 Expert Tips

Moving into your first home, condo or apartment is always an important milestone: equal parts terrifying and exciting.

You finally get to decorate a space your own way, and you get the freedom to buy and arrange things the way you want to. But then there’s also the fact that this is now your home, and you are responsible for all the decisions. What if you go horribly wrong with furnishing it?

To save yourself a headache or two, take a look at our seven expert tips on furnishing your very first house:

1. Budget before you buy

person holding pencil near laptop computer

Before you make a single purchase or before you even look at a Pinterest board, make sure you have a clearly defined budget in mind. This will save you the trouble of falling in love with a piece of furniture you can’t afford.

You can budget per room or per item, whichever makes more sense. Having an overall budget is fine, but you won’t be able to keep up with yourself if you are looking at one major figure alone.

Look at the prices for the biggest items you need to shop for: appliances, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, electronics, beds, sofas, and so on. Once you have a general idea, figure out how much you are ready to spend based on your own preferences and budget.

2. Look into reusing or refurbishing

green fabric sofa

Do you already have items you can spruce up a bit for your new home? Maybe it’s an old green couch from your grandparents or a dining room table that needs some work.

Do your friends and family perhaps own items they would rather get rid of, and would you be happy to give a home to these items? Do you have the time and interest in visiting second-hand furniture stores and sales?

You’d be amazed at the incredible quality of furniture you can find at these kinds of sales. So if you can, make sure to also check out used items, as opposed to just jumping into purchasing each item brand new.

3. Start with the most important spaces

brown wooden table with chairs

When you begin to look for actual items, think about the areas you will be spending most of your time in first. Do you like to spend a lot of time at the kitchen table, eating, working, chatting? Is the sofa in the living room a very important unit in your home? Do you need a home office?

Think about the spaces you will realistically end up using the most and start your furnishing mission there. That way, you can make sure most of your budget is spent where you will actually get the most use out of it. Plus, it will be easier to ensure these spaces are the absolute nicest.

4. Make sure everything fits

white ruler on green textile

We can’t stress enough the importance of measuring everything correctly several times. Before you look at an item, make sure you’ve measured the space it needs to go in well, and that you also have a route in mind for getting that item into the space (think in terms of narrow doors and low windows).

Measure the dimensions of your bedroom first and then choose a mattress size that will not only fit, but that will also align with what you like to sleep on.

The same goes for the living room and the sofa and the dining table. As these will likely be your largest items, place these first and then work around them with the rest of your furniture.

5. Think about how you want to feel

white sofa with throw pillows

Most of us don’t know what our personal style is when we are furnishing our first home, never having done anything similar before. And while there are hundreds, if not thousands, of interior styles out there, you don’t have to look at them all to figure out what you like.

Start by considering how you want to feel in each room. Do you want the living room to be a vibrant space for friendly gatherings, or do you want it to be a soothing space where you can unwind in the evening? Do you want the kitchen to be laid back or busy? And so on.

Once you have a mood in mind for each space, you will find furnishing it much easier.

6. Add a personal touch

woman holding a cup of coffee at right hand and reading book on her lap while holding it open with her left hand in a well-lit room

You want this home to feel like your home, so make sure you leave a personal mark on it. If you want a cozy reading nook, then make sure you include that in your plans as you personalize your home.

You can do this with the color palette you opt for, with the artwork you choose to hang on the walls, with the way you light your space, and with the decorative items you add to every room.

Make sure your decoration choices are in line with how you want the space to feel and that you’re not making it too personal – especially if you won’t be living alone. Every member of your household should be able to express themselves in the space, so make sure you consider each other’s wishes before making a purchase.

7. Make sure to keep it simple

photo of living room

Adding too much to a space is easy to do – especially when it comes to furniture, where you can literally find yourself trapped in a room you can’t move around. Always consider how you are going to walk through the space before you make the rash decision of buying a huge coffee table.

The same goes for decorations. Even though you may end up liking dozens of trinkets, not all of them need to end up in your house.

When it comes to colors and simplicity, your best bet is to stick with neutrals for the large items, and go for some color in the décor you add in later. That way, you will achieve a harmonious effect, as opposed to having one item clash with another.

Final thoughts

No matter how exciting and thrilling moving into your first home is, give yourself plenty of time to furnish it. You can live in a half-done space for several months if you need to, to make sure you get things right. After all, you’ll have to live in the home for some time to come, so jumbling things in just to get it done will turn into a decision you soon end up regretting.