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How To Save Money On Apartment Furniture

Updated on August 27, 2015

Pinching Pennies

The other day, my husband and I called our soon-to-be-married friends to see if we could come over to their new apartment and see how they were coming along. When we showed up, we walked into a mess of cardboard Ikea boxes, plastic-protected floors, and a mattress stationed precariously in the middle of the living room. Having done the “move-in” thing before, we were especially familiar with the stress of putting together Ikea furniture and happily obliged to help paint the walls and break down the furniture.

Pounding together my second nightstand I realized that Ikea, Target, and stores of their ilk must make a killing on newly weds, selling mediocre furniture to college aged kids and young couples. Even now as I sit here typing, I can count six pieces of furniture that have withstood the stand of five years for my husband and me. Furniture that is still going strong. Pinching money when you’re making a move is a necessity and often just part of the moving process.

So what furniture should you invest in? Where can you save your hard-earned money?

What Piece of Furniture Would You Invest In?

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Couches, Chairs, and Loveseats

I was lucky when I moved in to my place to be able to take my grandmother’s old couch and matching chair off of her hands. Yet, after spending time writing, eating, relaxing, reading, and anything else you might do on a couch, it sank down. The springs became lethargic, the tan color became beige, and the cushions sagged. After only two years my husband and I caved, making our first big purchase as a married couple and getting our new couch. When deciding on whether to splurge on a nice couch or not, take into a consideration a few things:

  • Is this piece of furniture likely to be used the most?
  • Are you likely to entertain/eat/or drink on your new piece of furniture?
  • Do you have animals that will be allowed near or on your new couch?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then investing in a sturdy piece of furniture might be right for you. I understand that good couches (even some of the bad) are expensive. Invest in one that can withstand the test of time, spilled food, Netflix binges, and claw marks along the side. This will save you from having to buy another couch shortly down the road.

Verdict: DO Invest In Your Couch.

Coffee Tables

If you’re anything like my husband and me, you likely use your coffee table for everything. If my couch is my swivel chair in the office, then my coffee table is my spacious desk. From quick dinners to a workspace station, our coffee table is the center of our living room (literally and figuratively). If you think this means that I think you need to spend a ton of money on your coffee table, then guess again. Because we spend so much time on it, our table has become beaten down, even peeling in some corners. However, because we don’t see this changing any time soon, there’s no rush for us to go out and purchase a new one. Coffee tables, unlike couches, do not have to be an expensive item to begin with.

Think about all of the ways you’ll likely be using your coffee table over the handful of years you’ll have with it:

  • Coffee (ha!)
  • Entertaining
  • Eating/Drinking
  • Working

From spills, cleaning products, and pen-marks, there’s every likelihood that your coffee table will end up bedraggled in the end. Wait until you have more space for doing things like living before dropping some big dollars on your coffee table. Save yourself some money and purchase an inexpensive coffee table and instead put the money toward your new couch.

Verdict: DO NOT Invest In A Coffee Table.

Dining Room Table Sets

Dining room table sets (with chairs) add a unique sense of familial style and coziness to any home, particularly those homes that are small to begin with. If you happen to have the room for a dining room table, my suggestion is to invest in a nice one. Many families, my own included, hardly find the time to sit at the table every night. However, on those nights when we’re able to take a breath and sit together, our dining room table provides a nice atmosphere to do so.

Because your dining room table will likely not be used as often as a bar counter (available in most apartments) or your coffee table, it will probably not incur the same injuries as the other table tops in your home. Invest in a sturdy, pub style table for smaller home rentals and apartments, or a big one for larger homes. Nice dining room tables can be pricey, but in the end they will save you money. A strong table that is not used as often can keep entertaining your family for years to come. Even if you do find that you use your dining room table frequently, a sturdy one will withstand wear, look nice in your home, and provide a comfortable place to gather around a warm meal.

Verdict: DO Invest In A Dining Room Table Set.

Mattresses and Bedframes

Beds have two parts to them: the frame and the mattress. When thinking how much money you’re willing to invest in your bedroom, you have to consider a couple of different factors.

  • How long do you plan on living in your apartment? Mattresses can be crazy expensive. If you’re planning on remaining in your apartment for the long run, buy a size that is comfortable for you. If, however, you’re only going to be in your apartment for a few months or a couple of years, then by a size that’s right for the apartment. I’ll be the first to admit that a queen or king sized bed provides a more luxurious sleeping experience, but if your apartment simply doesn’t have the room, then it’s always best to err on the side of creating as much living space as possible.
  • How much space do you have? As mentioned above, the goal of deciding how much to spend on a bed comes down to how much space you’ll have in the apartment. If having a queen or a king will create spacial problems, then be realistic and invest in a full or smaller. Also, if you’re living with limited space be mindful of the bedframe you purchase and realize that some frames are better left to larger spaces.
  • How are the backs of the sleepers? I have a bad back, meaning that on a very real level I have to invest in a mattress that is good for my spine and neck. Likewise my husband, who is an ultra-marathoner, needs a lot of sleep, meaning he requires a mattress that will keep him from tossing and turning all night. Put your money into a quality mattress that will provide a restful night's sleep so that you can embrace each day anew.

Beds are used—at the very least—on a nightly basis. However, it is the mattress that will get the most abuse. Your mattress is, for the most part, much more important and more expensive than the bedframe, meaning you should take care to find one that will offer support for your spine.

Verdict: DO Invest In A Mattress. DO NOT Invest In A Bedframe.


Here is where things get complicated. Dressers—big fancy, expensive, well-made dressers can still break without much use. Not to mention that dresser drawer tracks made with cheap metal they have a tendency to crumble under the weight of too many clothes. Decide how much clothing you’ll need to put into each drawer. If it’s a lot, you may want to consider investing in a decent drawer set. However, if you’re pinching pennies, a dresser is an easy means to save some extra money. You can find a decently sized, attractive dresser at a fraction of the cost of a solid wood one without a problem.

Verdict: This one’s up to you and whatever you think is best for your circumstance!

Moving into your new rental is a stressful and costly situation without the added worry of what furniture to purchase. Find out what you need most, how often it will be used, and make a decision based on how long you plan to have it around.

What do you think? What other pieces of furniture do you think should be considered as investment opportunities?


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    • Kelsey Farrell profile imageAUTHOR

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 

      3 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Robert, thanks for stopping by. I definitely agree about antique furniture. Much of it is in great condition and considerably sturdier than what is available today, making it an excellent option for your home. These pieces can be cost friendly and a great investment.

    • profile image

      Robert S. 

      3 years ago

      Great article and suggestions for furniture pieces! This is good point - good furniture costs money, which is why we should definitely treat these purchases as investments and not as consumables. After all, nothing you do for your home is ever wasted! I've even thought about investing in many custom/handcrafted pieces where you can definitely see the quality and you know will last ages! Sometimes it's even better to buy used or antique furniture over new.


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