Whether you're moving into your first home or a new rental, there's always a myriad of things to consider, but perhaps first and foremost is your budget. While your stylish eye wants all the designer pieces, your frugal purse is looking at those luxury lookalikes with an affordable price tag. But you don't have to declare war with your bank account. It is possible to achieve a happy compromise. Low-cost décor that looks expensive really exists.
If you're having trouble sourcing it, though, don't stress. We did the legwork for you and found some of the chicest affordable basics every home should have, along with the investment pieces you can't ignore. Once you tick them off your first-apartment checklist, the fun can really begin. Inject some personality with curated vignettes, vintage knickknacks, and objets d'art.
Ready to get started? Ahead, we share our top nine must-have pieces for your first home or rental that are affordable or worth the investment. Yep, we did it.
A Multipurpose Table
When you move into any new space, the first thing you'll need is a place to dine. Make sure the table you choose has ample room to accommodate unexpected guests, and if you don't have the space for a large table, simply choose a design that's extendable. Find furniture that works hard for the money and looks goods doing it.
Despite our best efforts to keep clutter to a minimum, life happens, and inevitably our homes fill up with stuff from the kitchen counters to the bathroom drawers. We are big believers in prevention rather than a cure, and that applies to more than just our health. Stop messes in their tracks with storage that looks like stylish décor and makes chaos look chic.
We also can’t stress how important a reliable washer-dryer system is when you move into your first home. This do-it-all LG pair is also Wi-Fi enabled, meaning when you’re in the hardware store buying paint for the guest bedroom, you can switch your machine on and trust that your laundry is being done. Who doesn’t like a machine that multitasks?
A Chic Rug
No home, whether it's your first or not, is complete without a rug—or three. It's the single most transformative thing you can do to any space, aside from paint. While there are several styles you can choose from (and this process is very personal), we recommend a jute or a flat-weave style. It's incredibly hardy, so it withstands any spills or wear and tear, but we love it for layering—it's the one home hack that transitions your home to winter. Throw a vintage or colorful small rug over the top for instant texture and visual flavor. It's a super-simple change, but it makes the biggest difference. Promise.
When you move into a new rental, the space doesn't always come with stylish lighting. In fact, it's typically mismatched, cheap (not in a good way), and dated. It's one of the first things entertaining expert Athena Calderone switches out. "The best thing about a lighting investment is you can take it with you when you leave," she told MyDomaine.
If you can't swap the pendant lights, purchase some polished table lamps to spruce up a dimly lit corner or side table. If you consider the placement of each lamp, you don't even have to turn on the ugly ones that come with the apartment. Or opt for a stylish floor lamp to light up a dimly lit corner.
When you consider how much time you spend in it, it's pretty easy to see why luxury bedding is a prerequisite for any new home. If you love the new messy bed trend too, make sure you add linen sheets to your cart. This beautiful fabric feels just as good as it looks and adds an instant air of luxury to any boudoir. While they're typically very costly, you can source some cost-effective sets from H&M.
Whether you plan on hosting guests for refined dinner parties or prefer to dine alone, you should always keep your buffet or kitchen cupboard well-stocked with upscale dining sets from dinner plates to bowls, salad, and side dishes. After all, a good hostess is always prepared for unexpected guests.
Before you move in, it's time to toss all your tired, ratty towels and replace them with fresh ones that match your new space. There's nothing more satisfying than stepping out of your shower or bath and wrapping your body in a fluffy bath towel or unique Turkish varieties. It's the simple things in life that count, right? While you can certainly spend a fortune on towels, there are plenty of luxe, low-cost versions that look the part but won't break the bank.
A Comfortable Couch
If there's one thing every living room needs, it's a cozy sofa that looks designer but doesn't make your credit card go into hiding. You also want it to be durable and withstand house parties and movie nights. Because spills happen. This stylish sofa from IKEA will crank the style dial right up and bring a touch of chic to your living room with a heavy dose of comfort. We also love this plush velvet blue sofa from Target.
This post was originally published on January 2, 2017, and has since been updated.