Apartment Living Apartment Search Tips & Tricks for Renters

Real Life Advice on How to Furnish Your Studio Apartment for Under $1,000

diy arts and crafts

Filling up an empty studio when you’re short on cash is not as hard as it would seem. Don’t settle for old and dusty furniture, but rather use your creativity to transform any old pallet or box into a chic, attractive piece. Use these budget-friendly tips to figure out how to furnish a studio apartment without sacrificing comfort and style.

Section your studio apartment into functional zones

As you determine a budget for furnishing your studio, divide sections into functional spaces that you’ll use for specific tasks. The obvious choices in an apartment without walls are a bedroom, living room, an office, and space for dining. With a budget of $1,000, you can allocate $500 to the bedroom, $300 for the living room, $150 for the combined office and dining area, and the remaining $50 for decorating.

Reserve the bulk of your budget in each functional space for furniture. That could mean IKEA, secondhand stores, or estate sales if you are renting in a bigger city like Chicago. Another great resource is Nextdoor, a neighborhood social group that has a fairly limited sales audience as compared to a citywide listing like Craigslist, so it’s possible to snag some amazing deals.

Budget $500 for bedroom furniture bargains

The budget for your studio apartment is heavily weighted toward your bedroom to allow for brand new, clean furnishings. The rising instances of bedbugs in the US are alarming, so earmark $500 of your budget to outfit the bedroom with all new pieces.

For brand new furniture at a discount, there’s no better place than IKEA. Grab a rolling cart and an Allen wrench to assemble the Songesand bedframe for $149 and top it with a Meistervek mattress for $229. A 3-drawer MALM chest at $99 can do double duty as a nightstand when positioned next to the bed. While you’re at the blue and yellow superstore, grab a duvet and pillowcase cover to freshen up your bedding for as little as $14.

Before you head home to assemble your furniture, put aside $10 of your budget for a set of LOTS mirrors from IKEA. Each one measures almost 12-inches square and comes with double-stick tape attached to the back. Stick a ribbon to the back of the mirror before mounting it and make a pin to look like the mirror is suspended from a corner. Hang more of them in an irregular pattern for an inexpensive, yet artistic twist on a traditional dresser mirror.

refurbished interior

Light up your living room with $300

The most important element in your living room is a place to sit while you watch TV, play video games, or have some friends over. Since you prioritized a big chunk of your $1,000 budget to the new furniture in your bedroom area, the living room is going to take a bit of bargain hunting.

The minimal design of mid-century pieces is the perfect solution for a studio apartment, like a velvet couch with angled wooden legs. But, you may have to compromise in this room to stay within your budget. Whether you score a loveseat at a secondhand store or a pull-out couch on Craigslist, the goal is to find something comfortable and clean. Add an inexpensive coffee table and at least one lamp and you can blow the balance on a TV, a gaming piece, or your entertainment of choice.

If you are more of a DIY spirit, a trick you can use is to transform an old, ugly couch with a unique slipcover made from your favorite team’s t-shirts. You’ll need about 64 t-shirts from which you can cut out a 12-inch panel to make a slipcover 100-inches by 120-inches, which will be adequately sized to cover a loveseat or small couch. Stitch them together and tuck the stretchy fabric in and around your couch to cover up the original upholstery.

Grab a big table to serve as both a desk and dining space for $150

A large table is one of the easiest thrift store finds to transform. Typically, you can find a wooden table and chairs that lend themselves to different crafting techniques for a quick update. You can paint them a neutral color, use mod podge to decoupage old photos or advertisements, or simply cover it with a tablecloth.

Divide the table visually to establish boundaries and designate areas, keeping one side for your computer. Do your best to score a comfortable chair to prevent any backpains from working long hours. Use the other half as a dining area which can fit more than one chair, in case you need to accommodate an occasional guest.

paint your apartment

Grab a paintbrush and embrace your inner artist with $50

To furnish a stylish studio apartment with $1,000 you have to bring out the artist in you. Paint delivers the biggest bang for the buck of all of the decorating choices available and a fresh coat of paint will cover up a multitude of ugly design decisions in the apartment and breathe new life into an old piece of furniture. Don’t forget to consult your landlord for permission before painting to make sure you won’t lose your security deposit.

You can get high-quality interior house paint for about $27 per gallon, which is enough to cover 300 square feet. Even if you aren’t allowed to paint the studio apartment, you can upcycle a few of the items you found with a small investment of about $50 for paint and tools.

Decorate your walls with found items for free

Art makes the biggest impact on the décor of your small studio apartment. Even with limited wall space, you can repurpose any item and use it as decoration. It doesn’t matter if it’s a stop sign, a collection of mirrors, or vintage copper pots – once mounted on a wall, they transform the look and feel of the room instantly. Industrial items make cheap, efficient, and stylish décor choices for a small studio.

Hit up your friends or surf the free section of Craigslist to gather enough décor items to outfit your small apartment. Arrive late to a couple of garage sales and offer to haul away the unsold goods if you can keep the one piece you really want. There’s no reason to waste any part of your limited budget on decorations because you’ll easily find free items that give your décor a kick.

The key to furnishing a studio apartment with a budget of $1,000 is to seek out bargains and engage your creative side. The small footprint requires efficient furniture choices and minimalist décor. Even if your cash is limited, creativity will get you living in a stylish and attractive apartment with comfortable furniture.

If you’re looking to rent a studio apartment, browse RENTCafé for great rental communities in your area that fit your lifestyle and your budget.

About the author

Mihaela Buzec

Mihaela is an online content developer for RENTCafé.com. She has a BA in English Language and Literature and is now studying for an MA in Current Linguistics. She is a passionate reader, writer, and researcher, with a background in academic writing. You can get in touch with Mihaela at mihaela.rentcafe@yardi.com.

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