Budget Room: Designing an “Adult” Living & Dining Room, 3 Ways
Hi y’all. Ryann here with our first budget series of the year. We’re calling this one “The Starter Apartment” and I hope you love it and if you don’t please be gentle in the comments (just kidding, you guys always are).
Being newer here at EHD as well as being the office “youngin,” Arlyn thought it fitting to ask me to lend my voice for this little ditty. Or maybe this is just her way of initiating me. Either way, we have lots to talk about because today we have a living and dining room roundup extravaganza. Let’s get into it, shall we?
A lot of you guys asked for us to bring back budget rooms in the new year, and as soon as that news trickled down to me, I couldn’t help but rejoice in how much I was going to benefit. This is certainly not a post all about me, but I am at the stage where I’m living without roommates for the first time so what goes in and out of my place is up to me and only me (just kidding, my boyfriend has a say, too). That said, we’ve been living in our apartment since May of last year with no dining table, an old couch that is starting to deteriorate, and no decor besides books stacked on the floor and a few plants.
Sure, I want the perfectly styled space that I think we ALL deserve, but I keep running into the same questions: Where do I start? What is worth splurging on? What even is my style? How do I attain what I envision my place looking like while staying within a reasonable budget? I needed answers and EHD came to the rescue. The fact that I get to contemplate this for my job? Well, it’s a privilege I don’t take lightly which is why I am so excited to share with you guys what I have learned.
So let’s talk. What exactly do we mean by starter apartment, anyway? The idea is that this would be your starter kit for your first “grown-up” apartment, whatever that means to you. It may not be your first apartment ever, so you can think of it as the first apartment you have real autonomy over, or maybe the first home you can relatively afford to put some care into. You went through the trouble of scouring countless renter’s websites and Craigslist to find it. You had a clear idea of what it would look like in your head, what the style would be, how you would make it YOURS. Now you’ve signed the lease and right away you can’t wait for your space to look like a spread in Architectural Digest. You picture yourself sipping coffee in your perfectly styled breakfast nook every morning, reveling at how adult you’ve become.
The reality is furnishing your home, finding your style, and building an eclectic collection is tough. It is time-consuming. It is so (at times) frustrating. Decorating your first apartment is NOT instant gratification despite what we were all led to believe. It’s a lot of having to stare at pieces of furniture you absolutely hate. It takes a lot of patience (I know this from experience).
To make things a little easier for you, Jess worked her magic and created three “Get the Look” styles for your (my?) living and dining rooms (bedroom and bathroom are on tap for next week). Chances are, you aren’t starting with a completely blank room and likely won’t go out and buy one of these boards top to bottom IRL, but we wanted to present some inspiration for how to put together something that would be easily buildable style-wise over time. They’re all fairly neutral, but pretty different styles. Just add your own flair. Fair warning: you are going to want to lock your wallet in a safe somewhere until you finish this post and get your head straight. BUT before we get into that, a few tips to keep in mind to help with your budgeting needs:
- Always check Craigslist for a specific item you have your eye on or even do general searches like “West Elm sofa” or “IKEA storage.” You’d be surprised how often you can find the same piece of furniture in great condition for far less than retail price. This probably seems like a given and you might be thinking “where have you been girl, that is EHD 101” but I think we are all guilty of forgetting this. It’s easy to get swept up in the buyitnowandhaveitshippedtomeimmediately mentality. So here is your friendly reminder to check Craigslist, Let Go, Facebook Marketplace (which I am just now learning is a great resource), etc etc.
- Don’t be afraid to DIY. When you’re on a budget, get thrifty. YouTube is your friend and there are countless apartment hacks that aren’t scary or overwhelming. Even something as simple as adding a trim to really simple curtains can level up your living room.
- Mixing and matching price points is good. A $10 vase next to a $2,000 sofa is perfectly acceptable and very common in EHD world. Pretty looks good next to pretty, no matter the price.
- As hard as it may be, wait for a sale. Places like West Elm, Overstock, AllModern, Urban Outfitters regularly having great sales. So, if you’re not DYING for the piece or in DESPERATE need, maybe meditate on the purchase for a bit. Patience is a virtue, my friends.
- As always, a mixture of new and vintage (or upcycled) is key. Check your thrift stores and flea markets (and eBay) regularly for vintage pieces to layer in that element of soul that’s so important to an EHD room.
Okay, get ready for three curated budget rooms (with final price tags) that will knock your socks off. Away we go…
Simplified Modern: $2,996
1. Side Table | 2. Table Lamp | 3. Sofa | 4. Floor Lamp | 5. Curtains | 6. Coffee Table | 7. Rug | 8. Box | 9. Tray | 10. Blue Pillow | 11. Lumbar Pillow | 12. Leather/Canvas Pillow | 13. Throw Blanket | 14. Accent Chair | 15. Wall Unit | 16. Pendant | 17. ‘Canter’s’ Print | 18. ‘Black 03’ Canvas Print | 19. Abstract Heads Print | 20. Dining Chair (set of 4) | 21. Wood Vase | 22. Dining Table | 23.Wine Glass (set of 4) | 24. Water Glass | 25. Bar Cart | 26. Decanter | 27. Bar Tool Set
Talk about grown up am I right? That color palette really knows what it’s doing. It’s simple yet very sophisticated. It’s cool but with enough nuance in color and texture that it doesn’t seem cold. Truthfully, I wouldn’t expect myself to be drawn to this style as much as I am but there are A LOT of items in this bad boy that I am itching to buy.
First things first: That sofa. Those legs? That color? The shape?? GOODBYE. I almost bought it as soon as I laid eyes on it. I only refrained because I have to consider I live with another human being and we agreed we would both have a say what lives in our apartment. Truth be told, it’s been a struggle for us to pull the trigger on a sofa but this one might be the one (especially at under $700). Speaking of “the one,” can we talk about the wall unit. I won’t lie. I want it so badly. It would fit perfectly in my space and would provide the added shelving I really need and finally a place for my TV to live (which is currently resting on a random console I got for free that is way too tall). I picture LOTS of drooping plants on that top shelf with a few books and a really unique vintage vase or figurine. So ADULT.
I was surprised I was completely drawn in by that bar cart. Something about the matte black is so cool, and SO sophisticated. It says “I am hip” without trying hard. It’s functional and has this industrial flair that I am really into at the moment. That said, it’s a little pricy at $159 and unfortunately more than I see myself spending on a bar cart. However, I can also picture it in a kitchen as a little breakfast cart. I see myself having an espresso machine and toaster on top, a few mugs, a pretty tea towel, and small plates on the second shelf, maybe assorted teas and coffee stored on the bottom. Kind of like an open-faced, makeshift breakfast pantry. So maybe it would be worth it. I don’t know you guys, what do you think?
Cool Eclectic: $3,433
1. Side Table | 2. Table Lamp | 3. Sofa | 4. Floor Lamp | 5. Roman Shade | 6. Coffee Table | 7. Rug | 8. Rattan Tray | 9. Bud Vase | 10. Blue Pillow | 11. Faux Fur Throw Pillow | 12. White Pom Lumbar Pillow | 13. Yellow Lumbar Pillow | 14. Colorblock Throw | 15. Media Console | 16. Accent Chair | 17. Planter | 18. Printable Abstract Art (set of 2) | 19. Pendant | 20. ‘Brooklyn’ Print | 21. Dining Chair (set of 2) | 22. Candle Holder (set of 3) | 23. Dining Table | 24. Bar Cart | 25. Decanter | 26. Bar Tool Set | 27. Water Glass | 28. Wine Glass (set of 4)
Can someone please pass me my martini? But really though. If my apartment looked anything like this, I wouldn’t be surprised if a dirty martini became my drink of choice. The effortlessly put together vibe is palpable, in a good non-pretentious way. Like, if this were my apartment, I probably just wrote my first novel but it’s totally not a big deal. Not to mention those warm and bright colors juxtaposed with dark wood and leather accents keep it all casual with just enough edge.
But let’s talk some specifics. Starting with the sofa. I am really drawn to this one and it’s getting me into trouble (Geminis are notoriously indecisive and these options are not helping.) When I showed it to my boyfriend, his response was “I’d feel like Don Draper sitting on that thing” and I was like, YEAH. IT’S SO COOL. So MCM in the best possible way. It is pricey at $899 (way more than I honestly can see myself paying at the moment) so I may have to take my own advice and wait for a sale and/or commence some serious Craigslist trolling. Speaking of budgeting, if you glazed over those abstract prints LOOK AGAIN because you’re looking at two really cool pieces for $12 (they’re printables). A STEAL if I’ve ever seen one. And that coffee table? $169. After months of being in the market for a coffee table, I can say confidently you don’t find that price everywhere and you jump on it when you get the chance. Just saying.
Neutral Oasis: $3,294
1. Side Table | 2. Table Lamp Base | 3. Lamp Shade | 4. Sofa | 5. Floor Lamp | 6. Curtains | 7. Coffee Table | 8. Rug | 9. Striped Pillow | 10. Raw Edge Pillow | 11. Textured Lumbar Pillow | 12. Round Pillow | 13. Throw Blanket | 14. Tray | 15. Box | 16. Vase | 17. Media Console | 18. Accent Chair | 19. Pendant | 20. Printable Abstract Art | 21. ‘Read Between The Lines’ Canvas Wrapped Print | 22. Framed Canvas Neutral Wall Art | 23. Dining Chair | 24. Wooden Vase | 25. Dining Table | 26. Bar Cart | 27. Pitcher | 28. Bar Tool Set | 29. Wine Glass (set of 6) | 30. Water Glass
For the those of you who crave a warmer, more inviting space, this one is for you. This look is Cozy with a capital C. Those soft neutrals are enticing and so so yummy to the point where I just want to take a quick nap in this here. Add in that slight pop of color and INSANE media console and I am sold.
Speaking of the media console…be still my beating heart!! This is one of those pieces I just ache over. There is something so classic about it while still feeling contemporary. Like this piece invented the idea of media consoles altogether.
And that dining table coming in at $300 (on sale now for $195!) is making a strong case for farm tables I have to say. I usually lean towards more sleek mid-century dining tables like this one, but this table is bringing out my rustic side and I am not mad about it.
Of course, I will comment on the sofa because apparently, I’m obsessed with sofas now. This one is not really my style, but I have a feeling its comfortability level wins over everything. The cushions are down filled so I can only imagine what a dream it would be to sit on. Also, it’s quite bigger than the other two which makes it a real sofa rather than a love seat which may just make up for the price.
So there ya have it. Three looks for a living and dining area in three budgets. What do you guys think?! Are you into this series? Would you want to see more of these “Starter Apartment” pieces? Who here is finding themselves in the first stages of Adult Starter apartment-ing? What other spaces would you want this budget treatment done for? We’ll get to work!