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Emily Henderson

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by Ryann Miller
Emily Henderson decorating on a budget
photo by tessa neustadt | from: sara’s living room reveal

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

Emily Henderson decorating on a budget

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 unitI 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

Emily Henderson decorating on a budget

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

Emily Henderson decorating on a budget

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!

In case you missed it, check out the starter apartment bedroom and head over to our Pinterest board for TONS more of our budget picks. xx

  1. Hi Ryann 🙂 nice to meet you!
    I am currently decorating my first “adult” appartment on a budget, so this is definitely helpful. My favorite one is the neutral oasis living room, so calm and cozy! I can recommend the #19 white pendant light, it is cheap and looks really good.

  2. Super and excellent look and follow my blog link

  3. The only trouble I’m having with this is choosing the budget room that I love the most!! And thanks for also including window treatments!!

  4. Hi Ryan! Welcome and good job!
    I like all 3 options! The look of Simplify Modern resonates most with me, but please please please with other chairs. Imitated furniture / design shows a real disrespect for the original designer and their hard work. There are so many affordable, well designed chairs out there- nobody really needs another Eames knock off.

  5. Loved this post!

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  7. Yaaas! I am in this exact situation–moved in last June, just bough dining chairs but still no table (lol). Trying to find the balance of splurge and save is hard but this is so helpful. Please more things like this!

  8. Can I just say I am dying to see what Sara does with her new house. I love love loved her apartment makeover takeover. Seeing that picture again made me happy!

    1. ME TOO. I can’t wait for her home makeover takeover.. It’s going to be amazing.

  9. Love this series!! I’m also always looking for great looking pull out sofas so they can do double duty for guests… I know there is an EHD post of them rolling around in here somewhere, but it’d be nice to have an update. Now I’m just trying to stop myself from buying all the things…

  10. Hi! Could you tell me the name of the curtains in the first photo (sara’s living room reveal)? The comments for that post are closed and the link only goes to the main website, not the specific curtains. thanks!

    1. Yes they are from Country Curtains and they chose their washed linen curtains with a classic French pleat. Hope this helps x

  11. Ohhhhh so pretty. Thanks Ryann! I’m considering my current rental as my first grown up place and I’m loving it, now if only it didn’t come fully furnished with no storage to hide the replaced furniture.. Dammit.

  12. Yay! I’m so excited about this series and I’ve owned my home for 9 years 😆. Rugs and drapes are always the hardest for me. Dogs and children kill rugs and I need 12 drapery panels just to cover my living room 😳💰💸. Love some of these options!
    Would love a deeper dive on leveling up drapes. 12 custom panels aren’t going to happen at this house but I’d love some direction from people who have touched and used some of the premade options.
    Thank ya’ll for this series, it’s off to a great start. Way to go! 👏

    1. try panels made for patio doors! They are really wide and you can get them in a lot of lengths on Amazon for not too much $$

  13. Great job on this post Ryann! I liked aspects of all three styles, and liked that they included so many items for fully decorating a living/dinning room. As someone who is continuing to furnish his first post college apartment, it was great to see so many affordable pieces too! I also just want to thank the whole EHD team for taking our suggestions to heart! From budget posts like this one to the returned trolling Craigslist it’s great to be listened to. It makes me as a reader feel appreciated.

    1. Ahh thank you so much Colin! That is so nice to hear x

  14. Ah I love this post! Thanks Ryann!

  15. These kinds of posts are definitely super helpful. I actually liked pieces from each of the rooms. It would be great to see this done for less talked about rooms (laundry, study, hallways, foyers). My husband and I are in our 30’s and have three small kids. Our house is close to 2,000 sqft so typically more than the starter phase but I stay at home and school our kiddos so we’ve still got the starter budget. Keep up the great work and thanks for listening to our needs.

    1. Yes! This!! My hallway totally needs some pizzazz. 🙂

  16. Love that this budget round up had 3 distinct looks! Please keep the budget posts coming!

    1. Oh we will! Budget posts are secretly my favorite posts too.. 🙂

  17. Love these! I would love a sofa series with sofas under $500 🙂

    1. We did a roundup a while back of best sofas under $1,000, and lots of options are $500 and under (I’m not sure about the state of the links, so I apologize in advance!): https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/88-affordable-budget-friendly-sofas-1000

    2. I feel like to get a good sofa for under $500 you’d have to Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist one! New quality ones are $$$. 🤯

  18. I love this post. I am 65 and long past my first apartment stage of life but the ideas here are suitable for any age and any stage. We are building from the ground up for the first time and I can see ourselves changing out some of our old and tired pieces for a more modern look. Building a house is hard on the pocket book so these moderately priced pieces are very appealing. Thanks Ryann. Nice job. Love your humor and style of writing. Looking forward to seeing more.

  19. Welcome and well done!

    I’m design blind…I don’t know what style is what….just know when I LOVE what I see.

    So, can you please steer me in the direction as to wich if these (well done!) options is most like Corbet’s house?

    Thank you.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I would say theirs is probably a mixture of Cool Eclectic and Neutral Oasis!

  20. Minor functional annoyance alert – I had to re-open this post like three times because the products link open over the EHD page and not in a new tab and I kept closing them instead of hitting the back button. It is a minor thing but it makes it very annoying to try to shop from these links.

    Love the roundup – would love to see Ryann’s apartment as she progresses in the design.

    Also – my style is so drastically different now that I’m in my 40’s as compared to when I was in my 20’s. Just have fun and recognize that most of what you purchase isn’t a forever piece.

    1. Oh no! We fixed all the links. It’s our standard to have them open in another tab, but for some reason, that didn’t save for these. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  21. This is great! Specific suggestions and awesome mood boards! Love the Etsy mucking and faux leather pillow find- I’ve been looking for one like that! People want budget rooms for every room! Master, guest, kid rooms! So please continue this series! And not just for “your first apartment” readers but adults who are paying mortgages, high real estate taxes, tuitions, etc and want to have nice spaces without breaking the bank!

    1. I agree. I’m well past my 20’s and past my starter home, but unfortunately not past the same financial strains of those previous stages of life. These type of posts are appreciated. Thank you Ryann!

    2. Yes to budget guest room! I have such a hard time spending on a guest room because it will only get used every now and then, but still want guests to feel comfortable in it when they do come! I think that’s probably a common issue for homeowners in all stages, not just those who are working on their first apartment, especially since when you first move into a home with an extra bedroom, you probably have NONE of the furniture or decor for it! Might be able to just lump that in with a budget bedroom post in general?

  22. i LOVE the legs on the Eddy loveseat. I clicked on the link and looks like West Elm has it on sale today for $719 and the sofa is on sale for $799

  23. Very awesome series (and I totally enjoyed Ryann’s writing style/voice with her dose of reality along with finding GREAT items). I like the 3 looks at a similar price point as there’s items from each mood board I’d be all over if my meager decorating dollars weren’t all going toward a bathroom refresh atm 🙂 I’ll probably forever be in the Craigslist/sales/DIY decorating bracket so keep sending these posts along from time to time!

    1. Thank you so much Julie! I feel the same way. I can definitely see myself slowly buying one thing from each of the mood boards until the end of time..

  24. love the budget posts (though for me, seeing $3,000 was still WOW a lot of money, but I understand that’s furnishing a space from scratch). I’d love to see more of these type posts — maybe with a more colorful option? Eclectic has color but is still pretty neutral. 🙂

    1. Yeah we went back and forth with the price tag on these, but when you break it down, each element individually is a pretty budget-friendly find. The $3k encompasses nearly an entire living and dining room top to bottom, so far less can be spent of course if you don’t fill both rooms entirely! And yes we love us some color, but the idea here was to create a nice foundation to build upon over those first few years/decade before likely transitioning into something larger or for more people!

  25. These are awesome. I want these for my house, not an apartment. Thanks Ryann!

  26. Excellent round up and something I wish I had when I was starting out… I’m struck by the prevalence of bar carts, certainly a blend of MCM and Mad Men influence + artisan cocktails are the new craft beer. But I would never have spent my precious money on a bar set when I was starting out. It just feels a little style over substance. Is this just an age thing? Are all young people finding life so much better with a bar cart and fancy bar sets? I’m not judging, I’m just curious. I’d love to add a stylish bar cart to our lives, but with a teenager in the house we have made a conscious decision to avoid overly glamorizing alcohol until he is of age… sigh, the sacrifices of parenthood ammiright? Anyway, just curious if others feel the bar cart is like a millennial thing or just a 2019 thing. FWIW, I spent an impractical amount on a kitchen aid mixer when I was 24. It was practically more expensive than my car. I still have it – more than 20 years later.

    1. Oh I absolutely think this is a generational thing. I’m technically a millennial, and I personally think the “bar cart” moment is seen so often in house tours and blogger reveals online, so people just want an opportunity to style something else “pretty” that nods to entertaining and a life you envision for yourself (even if it’s not the life you’re living). One of my close friends who doesn’t even drink has a bar cart set up in her apartment…I laugh at her for it because it’s a bit ridiculous, and when I asked her why she had that, her answer basically pointed to the idea of, like I thought, it being a “styling moment” she didn’t want to miss out on. I’m all for using a house in a way that works for YOUR lifestyle and how you live in a space, not just making something pretty and “Instagrammable” for pretty’s sake, personally. But curious to hear from others!!

    2. I completely get this sentiment about it seeming like a frivolous thing to spend on in your first place – but I also think that things called “bar carts” can be used for so many other things, just like Ryann pointed out – extra storage space in your kitchen, dining area, bathroom, entry area, etc. They can be styled out with dishes as a mini buffet table in your tiny dining room, with coffee maker, coffee mugs, and breakfast items in your kitchen with too little counter space/cabinet space, your towels and toiletries in a storageless bathroom, etc.

      I think the alcoholic bar cart phenomena is like the grown up step past the college phase, where apartments are frequently decorated with empty liquor bottles or wine bottles on top of the kitchen cabinets, etc. It’s like the “we’re grown up, but we’re still so fun, I swear” piece of decor that may transition to something else as you progress through the stages of life.

  27. I love these budget rooms. We are in our forever home but have two boys. Therefore, we want stylish furniture that doesn’t cost a ton because they are rough!! That first mood bood definitely gets all the heart eyes.

  28. YES! Thank you for this renter and apartment-friendly content!!! Love these options and appreciate how comprehensive they are. Please keep this type of content coming!

  29. Nice piece, Ryann!

    I’m well beyond this stage, but I can remember wanting desperately to have an eclectic, layered place when I got my first apartment. It did take YEARS to find all the cool pieces I have now. I started before the internet was a thing, so it took a lot of shoe leather tramping through antique malls, little shops, etc. You young’uns have it easier.

    Nice look. Good pieces. Yay!

  30. Given that my husband and I just spent a couple hours trying to configure furniture we don’t really like but have to use for the time being (thanks to our limited budget), this post was perfectly timed and I feel *seen*. Which can be really hard to find when looking at typical gorgeous, aspirational rooms online. Thanks, EHD, for just the words I needed to read after a frustrating morning.

  31. Yes Ryann, I will read more from this series. I will be mixing high and low, from before my first all-my-own-apartment (in the early 2000’s) into the future…. Although I follow trends and like to change up colors from year to year, I prefer to keep most of my main furnishings for the long term and invest in core pieces when I can. So I was happily surprised when I found a uncanny similarities in the “Cool Eclectic” look to my own home decor: sofa same shape (Room and Board, great investment); black round dining table (IKEA); black and white rug (IKEA); teal media cabinet (Target); similarly shaped chair with leather seat (online sale); special glassware (thrifted and Crate and Barrel); and the same shape light fixture (in previous house that we left). These are all good core pieces that can be solid starting points for many styles (we used the same main pieces in more of a mid-century scheme into a more bohemian eclectic one). I also like how there’s a wide variety of items in the style sheet, from furniture to art to lighting, rather than just 20 sofas.

  32. This is a fantastic post, thank you. There are so many lovely things to chose from

  33. Hi Ryann! I LOVE this series!! EXAAAACTLY what I’ve been looking for when designing my first condo and trying to make it be “adult-y” but still young fresh and timeless. 🙂

  34. I love the rug in the eclectic collection! Do you think the roman shade could be swapped out for one in a chocolate brown? I have been looking for a rug to go w new office furniture (industrial collection by West Elm) but has to coordinate w the existing brown blinds that were custom made and will lead to divorce if I try to replace them 🙂 Also, I have printed a ton of art from etsy using canvas prints I bought on Groupon. It makes it really affordable for huge art pieces.

  35. Please have more posts that use COLOR. While black, white, grey, cream and blue may photograph well, and they are beautiful…. it would be great to have colors like teal, hot orange, mustard, turquoise and ruby featured. Those can be adult colors too. It would be a great tutorial to show how to work with colors and not just neutrals. Thanks.

  36. How about an “adult” living room that’s kid-friendly?

  37. Cool post! I think it’s important to specify that the curtains may not come in the right length. The first Target ones only go up to 84” – and oftentimes that is too short to skim the ground. I’ve had that issue with clients with Target where they’re sold out or no longer carry the 95” and 108” versions. I wish Target offered more sizes (and I’ve only ever seen the 63” and 84” sizes in-store, which is frustrating) The second IKEA ones shown are at 95” – but I’m assuming they also have other sizes? Ready-made curtains are so affordable but definitely have drawbacks! 🤷🏼‍♀️

  38. Also wanted to add it would have been nice to see the version of this with the actual items from the cover photo. I really like that room! 😊

  39. totally not on topic but does anyone know why I can only see about 1/4 of the page at a time on my laptop? This has been going on for a while – only on the EHD site that I can tell so far. I tried googling it but it only gave answers to people who write blogs, not to someone just looking at one. It’s become so annoying that I am ready to give up on trying to read Emily’s blog. SADLY.

    1. Could be an ad blocker interfering? Try with a different browser – like FireFox or Safari if you use IE – and see if it displays correctly.

  40. Hi Ryann! Thanks so much for this! They are all so well done.

  41. Came back to look at these again. 😀 To answer your questions, I would love to see a full bathroom budget design. I also miss the kitchen budget designs that you guys used to do, though I have to say, I’m LOVING this three-option format. Seriously, this is gorgeous work. Thank you!

  42. FYI I have the couch from the Cool Electic board and I have to say that’s it’s been a HUGE disappointment. Less than six months in and the seat cushions flatten to pancakes as soon as you sit down. It also creaks like some of the inner supports have been damaged. Might have been okay as an occasionally used couch, but does not hold up to everyday sitting.

    1. Jacquie, we purchased a very expensive custom leather sofa with down cushions that was also a huge disappointment in looks/comfort due to flattening. I bought a gymnastic mat from a sporting goods store and put it under the cushions, and it looks and feels 100% better. You might want to experiment with something like that.

  43. I loved this post and can totally relate! My husband and I finally moved into a one-bedroom in London… 7 months ago (after 1.5 years in a studio, and previously living the expat life abroad in a spacious 2BR). We’re slowly attempting to replace some of the cheap provided furniture in our current flat, while staying on a budget and perusing second hand options online. I regularly dream of a $10,000 home shopping spree but… alas, not reality. Anyway- the two first soda links don’t work for me, maybe because I’m in the UK. I’d love to know the brands at least so I can search for equivalents here. Thanks! And I second another reader who is in the market for an attractive/comfortable sofa bed… so hard to find without spending thousands!

    1. *sofa links, not soda 😉

  44. I love your advice on buying secondhand – it’s practical and better for the Earth. Thank you for including sustainability in this post and brand!

  45. I love this post. All the roud up looks amazing .anyway, is it only me who can’t open the link? I tried to click the link on the items but doesn’t work.

  46. Can I just say that I’m already SO INTO the changes you’ve been making to the blog! I’ve loved everything you’ve done for a long time buuuuuut wasn’t super invested this past year. Bravo to you for listening to your readers and responding immediately! Definitely a daily read again for me. Keep up the great work!

  47. This post almost made me wish I were back in a starter apartment with no furniture! If I were, I’d probably combine my favorites from all three rooms and have fun with accessories.

  48. Love this post, thank you! Wish I’d had this inspiration when we were furnishing my daughter’s first place last year, but, she still needs a coffee table, so:).

  49. Love this. Thank you. I’d be interested in screened porch options .

  50. Great post, thanks so much! I find that these ideas are helpful for any home, especially if you have some rooms where you don‘t want to spend too much money (e.g. family room to hang out with the kids).

  51. Really great post! I like the first room the best. This is also really timely for me – I went out Tuesday night and bought the first loveseat from West Elm 🙂

    I really appreciate the “budget” rooms and seeing how all the different furniture pieces and accessories can come together. These are really helpful and inspiring.

  52. Love these types of posts! I was hoping one would come out soon. (My next *hope* is for a larger dining room table & room round-up.) Great job on this!

  53. So many of the llnked items have horrible reviews. Why recommend them?

  54. Ahhhh these “three ways” posts are my absolute favorite! Love seeing everything tied together so seamlessly. Please don’t ever stop them.

  55. Hey guys,

    I think you did a great job curating beautiful rooms on a budget. However, I feel compelled to warn other readers that stores like West Elm, CB2 and even Restoration Hardware have terrible terrible reviews on consumer reports. True horror stories of people ordering furniture that NEVER arrives, sofas breaking after a few months of use, etc. I almost bought a new sofa from CB2 because we moved into a mid-century modern house and my 1930’s Victorian/Empire sofa doesn’t seem to really fit (plus I was feeling super influenced by whats in and popular at the moment/my New England style was feeling out of place here in the Midwest), but ultimately I decided to keep my incredibly wellmade sofa that has lasted for almost ONE HUNDRED YEARS. After reading hundreds of negative reviews on the quality of these new furniture pieces that are on trend but essentially worthless after one or two years…it just didn’t seem worth it to me. If you are going to go that route I absolutely recommend buying second hand, or better yet, invest in a vintage piece. Good luck everyone, furniture buying is really really hard….p.s. one brand that seems pretty quality is Room and Board. Expensive tho!

  56. Love this series! For many of us it isn’t just about starter homes, I’m in my 30s and we have one child and another on the way. I work in a nonprofit and we just don’t have the budget to do with Emily does. Budget friendly all the way down the line is going to be our reality for years if not our entire lives. Love this idea for all stages of life!

  57. Thank you SOOO much for this series! One problem I am having is lighting. My apartment has zero over head lighting and so lamps are needed everywhere, which my space cannot hold many of (small nyc apartment). Any idea of nice affordable plug in lighting solutions?

    1. Try searching for plug-in sconces! That way you get some lighting without taking up surface space with a lamp (and it can be mounted as high as you want).

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