Apartment Budgeting 101

Apartment Budgeting 101

Moving is expensive…. like… really f****g expensive, and I’m learned that very quickly! At the beginning of the year, I laid out my goals for 2019 and budgeting for an apartment move was a the top of the list. (and thank god I did)

Budgeting for a new home is a two step process. The first being the rent itself, but something that’s equally as important, the furniture! Although I’ve loved IKEA since birth, this felt like a time to graduate to other brands. With that said, saving, refurbishing and keeping my eyes peeled on the best deals was very important.  I had to get creative and also embrace that this is a lot harder than just grabbing a top at Zara on sale.

What and How to Buy New:

Based off my space size increase, I did have to buy a large amount of new items. Those big items included an area rug, couch and the bedroom furniture. Although more expensive than I was used to, they are pieces I’ll be using everyday, so it didn’t take long to get over the initial hit to the credit card I had to take.

Websites like Article and Birchlane were both reasonable and easy to find exactly what I was looking for. I also referenced this article, which helped me understand the price points I should be expecting for certain pieces of furniture.

I’d also say that buying new linens, pillows and prints are easy and quick ways to change up your space without totally breaking the bank.

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Where to save:

Just like shopping for clothes, never count out a consignment shop! All of the armchairs I wanted a big box stores were basically double or triple the price of what I found at my favorite antique shop in Chicago. I’ve got a bunch of items, big and small from flea markets and such that have really pulled my place together. There’s a lot of charm to be gained when you mix newer modern pieces with older, more one-of-a kind pieces.

Framing art is another potential money pit that can easily be avoided. A craft store like Michael’s or local framer can charge you hundreds per frame, but never fear, IKEA is always here. For my gridded gallery wall, I picked up these 9×9  frames for $10 each and bought matt board from a craft store and did this myself. This was at least a third the price if I had a professional or online company do it for me.

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Things to keep:

One of the best parts about this move was that I had the chance to look at everything I own, and make sure that it had a purpose if it was taken to a new space. Although I’m not an avid reader, by any stretch, I have a great collection of coffee table books from travels and friends that serve well in a more design sense than they ever would to read. Any cute book has a chance to serve as decor on your table or side board like it does for me.

Those little side tables you got in college, keep them! I almost threw out a $20 black table from IKEA but you never know when you’ll need another surface next to your couch, bathroom, etc. The same goes for picture frames too, as they can easily be repurposed if need be.

The best advice I can give is to think practically when you’re decorating an apartment. You can dream, but you have to be realistic. You know what’s trash, you know what’s overpriced and you know what you need. Only spend the money when it’s something you’re using everyday. Don’t buy the $300 couch and the $70 designer coffee table book! (Even though I’ve probably done the latter before)

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A list of my favorite places to shop for this apartment below:

Article

At Home

Birch Lane

Crate and Barrel

Edgewater Antique Mall

Foursided

IKEA

Randolph Street Market

West Elm

Settling In

Settling In

February has certainly been the coldest month of the year in Chicago as long as I’ve been here, which means the walls of my apartment start to close in while I live in a state of hibernation until spring rounds the corner.

Because I  find myself having more nights in during this short month, it’s important that my apartment looks its best. If you’ve read my gallery wall post, you know that I  put a lot of design focus on my living room wall. Living in a small one bedroom apartment means wall space is limited and highly prized in terms of decorating.

This month I decided to wipe the gallery wall clean and tweak it with some new additions. Today I’m breaking down my favorite shops and places to find everything in order to achieve the perfect gallery wall, as well as those smaller pieces around my living room!

Wall: Gallery walls should be a mix of a little bit of everything! Photos you’ve taken, maybe some personal sketches, music posters, and art you’ve collected. My new map is from IKEA, that’s also a chalkboard! (how fun) IKEA is where a lot of my frames are from too. I  only invest in frames when they’re really special pieces or going to be hung somewhere forever. Vintage markets and music festivals are great places to pick up prints and smaller pieces to hang. Foursided is one of my favorite Chicago shops for small cards and prints.

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Chair: Finding a good arm chair can take years, but when you find it, you’re set for life! I    scooped up this salmon colored leather chair from a local shop in my college neighborhood for $70. Furniture can be really expensive, so it felt like a steal to me. Throw your favorite patterned pillow on it to make it feel finished.

Table: The table is two suitcases, from the same shop as the chair. Stacking a couple of them helps with height, and to protect the top, add a piece of glass. (not shown) You can find glass for the table at your local Salvation Army or second hand shop. Using trunks or suitcases for a table also doubles as storage!

Accessories: Truly, the best way to make your home feel fully decorated is with the smaller pieces. You can easily go to one or two places and just buy what you deem cute, but it’s more fun to use pieces from your travels, keepsakes passed down and little trinkets from markets you’ve found along the way. The solider is from a local shop, the camera is from my favorite street market, and books are from various bookstores.

Although I  love the minimalism approach that many of my peers take with home design, for a packrat like me, more is definitely more. Home design should be a reflection of your personal style and I’ve settled into knowing what mine is! What’s yours?

-TW