When I first moved into my apartment, I was overwhelmed by its size. I had most of the essentials I needed, including a bed, desk, dresser, and kitchen supplies, but the space felt empty regardless.

It wasn’t until I filled the rooms with decorations and gathered the rest of my functional items that I started feeling at home – before that, I just didn’t feel comfortable and at home. Getting all of the basics for your place is important for making it into your own space.

Of course, the process of filling and decorating your apartment isn’t fast or cheap – furniture costs money, after all. Fortunately, by checking for online deals, you can speed up the decorating process and transform your apartment from an empty unit to a cozy home.

Here are some tips for decorating on a budget via the Internet (good old Web-surfing style):

What are the Essentials, Again?

OK, before we start anything, we should clear up what items you’ll need to have right away and what items can wait. The essentials include:

  • Bed and mattress

  • Pillows

  • Bedding

  • Lamps

  • Desk (especially if you work from home like I do)

  • Dresser

  • Kitchen knives

  • Cutting board

  • Pots and pans of various sizes

  • Silverware

  • A spatula (I lived without one for a month– I don’t recommend this)

  • An oven mitt (same deal)

  • A shower curtain (unless you’re OK with mopping up water after each shower)

  • Cleaning supplies (in case you do need to mop anything)

  • Scissors

  • Trash can(s)

  • Wall art (the place will feel way too empty without it) plants are also nice

Everything else you can accumulate over the course of a few months – I never did get that sofa.

For Sale By Owner

Looking for inexpensive and used furniture? The internet is full of people selling their stuff and you can make the most of it by finding quality deals or repurposing fixer upper furniture. The trick is to know where to look. Here are some good sources:

Craigslist: This site is full of people selling stuff. What you’ll use it for is finding furniture. Type the piece you’re looking for in the search bar and set your budget parameters (it’s not an online deal if you can’t afford it).

If you see something you like, ask to see it before you buy it. Check for cleanliness and make sure furniture is in good shape before bringing it home. Sometimes it helps to bring a friend (I brought my dad). If you’re feeling adventurous, check the free section of Craigslist.

Freecycle: This website is a place where people can advertise items they want to get rid of. Perhaps they’re moving and can’t take their sofa with them. Type in your area and see what you can find. This site is really hit or miss.

Online Store Sales

Stores provide discounts every once in awhile too. Check out these options for decorating on a budget:

Sales: Some furniture stores have online sales where you can find the items you need for a reduced cost. Others offer deals only to online customers. Visit your favorite furniture store sites for these discounts.

Before you decide you can afford something, check shipping costs – a dresser is way more expensive to mail than a poster, so don’t forget to factor in shipping costs for each item.

Target: Target is one store that carries a lot of online deals. Some of their items are “Internet only.” The store also teams with famous designers, like Nate Berkus, to bring an affordable version of high-end decor.

From my experience, Target is best for decorative pieces – I love my lamp from there, but my cabinet looks cheap and probably won’t last much longer.

Amazon: Though Amazon started off selling books, the online retailer now offers furniture, appliances, art, etc. If you see an apartment essential that you like on another site thats a bit pricey, search Amazon for something similar– you may come across a cheaper version that you like as much as the original.

CB2: This retailer is owned by the same group that runs Crate and Barrel (my dream store). While the items you’ll find on its site are pricey, shipping is not. Select items mail for just $4.95! If you’re looking for pillows, vases, etc., then picking them up at CB2 could be worth the cheap shipping.

Overstocked: This website has everything from wine racks to desks to kitchen essentials to throw pillows, and all for an affordable price.

A Note on Art

You can purchase wall art from any of the above places. Get your favorite photos printed onto a canvas by checking out online print shops. Order posters from Amazon and Etsy (I have a great Frank Lloyd Wright blueprint I got from Amazon for just $15).

Hopefully these websites and suggestions yield online deals that help you furnish your apartment for less. Happy decor hunting!

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