Furnishing an entire apartment or house on a budget is a CHALLENGE; in fact, there are seemingly endless TV shows devoted to it. Each creative solution makes these shows downright addictive to watch. It isn’t always easy to pull off.

Like most of us, you probably don’t have a celebrity designer. So how do you do it yourself? 

Bellhop is here to help! This article gives you the information you need to furnish your new place for cheap! You will learn how to budget for furniture, which basic furniture pieces to account for, and where to find affordable pieces of furniture, including some of today’s low-priced furniture stores and secondhand furniture sources. We provide all the information you need to meet any apartment or home budget. 

Let’s start shopping!

How to Furnish an Apartment Cheap Bellhop Blog

Step 1: Create a Healthy Furniture Budget

Start by creating a realistic budget that fits your needs. Keep these questions in mind: 

  • How long do you plan to live there? (Will it be long-term or short-term?)
  • Do you plan on keeping the furniture?
  • What type of furnishings do you enjoy most now?
  • Do you work from home?

With your basic needs worked out, list out every piece of furniture you need, including a few bonus furnishings in case you have money left over. We provide a helpful list of items in Step 2.

Remember to Include Tax and Delivery!

Buying furniture from a store may require sales tax. Account for delivery costs from a furniture provider or for renting a truck and buying tasty pizza for friends who help you move. 

Step 2: Include Items on Your Furniture Shopping List

Here are some basic furniture items to include on your list to make your new place comfortable and functional.  

A Mattress

A good night’s sleep is the most important need you have in your new home, but a new mattress can be pricey. Sure, there always seems to be a sale on mattresses, but sometimes people sell or give away seldom-used beds, and some companies do professional mattress cleanings and resell them at a lower price. 

Also, keep in mind that you may not need a King or Queen-sized bed. A twin may do for now. The smaller it is, the less you pay. 

A Shower Curtain

What? A shower curtain is one of the essential items? Yes! A shower curtain prevents water damage that can cost more than any items on your list. Go ahead and pay the $12, and while you’re at it, make it an attractive decorative feature! You can choose from a wide range of colorful shower curtains.

Sofa or Accent Chair

A brand-new sofa may be the goal, but living room furniture is pricey! Even a low-priced, new sofa can be expensive, and it may not even be a comfortable sofa. A used sofa may be the answer. Sofas are big and heavy – especially anything larger than a 3-seater sofa. A couch is a pain for an owner to move and throw away. You may be able to get it for cheap if you can move it out. You can save more money by using just an accent chair. The room may look empty, but you will have a comfortable and affordable place to sit.

Dining Table / Kitchen Table

If you have anyone over (family, friends, or that special someone), you will want a comfortable place for dining and talking. The same kitchen table can also be used as a desk, giving you two functional items in one.

Lighting: A Floor Lamp and Bedside Table Lamp

If your new place doesn’t have ceiling lights, include lamps in your budget for furniture. Consider a small light next to your bed and a larger floor lamp for your living room and dining room.


Food is a massive expense each month. Eating at home will save you huge money, and that requires kitchenware. 

Coffee Table 

A coffee table can work as a dining table or as a place to place drinks when hanging out with friends. And without it, a home can look pretty sparse. The good news is a coffee table designs can be unconventional and still get the job done. Any box-shaped item will do. 


Leaving your clothing in boxes will get old pretty quickly. Plus, you can also use the same chest of drawers as a nightstand, giving you two benefits in one!

A Nightstand (or Two!)

You will want a comfy place to keep your phone, bed light, and any books if you read in bed. Again, your dresser may be a good substitute.

Bed Frame

You can sleep with a mattress on the floor, but getting in and out is uncomfortable while making you look like a squatter, not a renter. Plus, you can increase storage by stashing items under the bed.


You’ll need sheets to keep your bed clean, warm, and comfortable. Mattresses may be soft to lay on, but they can still feel scratchy without soft sheets.

A Bedroom Curtain (and NOT a Sheer Curtain!)

Unless you like the world looking in on you, invest in a bedroom curtain. Cheap curtains will do, or opt for decorative curtains to add to your home’s design. Remember that sheer curtains may prevent you from seeing out, but they don’t keep people from seeing in.

How to Furnish an Apartment Cheap Bellhop Blog

Step 3: Do Some Prep Work Before You Shop

Now that you have your list of furniture pieces ready, you still have a few steps to do before heading out the door. 

Create a Floorplan with a Few Design Options

Draw a floorplan that includes basic ideas of furniture placement and measurements of each room and locations of wall outlets, doorways, and windows. Keep a few copies so you can sketch 2-3 design options for potential furniture layouts – especially for your couch design. Having a collection of design ideas increases the chances of finding items you need.

Write Down the Size of Every Item

Get deets on items and make sure they all fit in the rooms and through hallways and elevators. 

Step 4: Start Shopping for Budget Furnishings 

With your budget set, how do you avoid costly furnishings?

Multitask Your Furniture

Use furniture for more than one purpose. As we said before, you can use a dining table as a desk during the day or a dresser as a nightstand. You can also use a storage chest as a coffee table or sofa side table and a mattress bed frame as clothing storage. 

You can also adopt coworking space design concepts. If you have a table on wheels, use it as a desk or dining table while sitting on your sofa.

Upcycle Furniture

If you, your family, or your friends has furniture they don’t need, find ways to freshen them up by repainting or re-staining them. You can reference YouTube, design shows, Facebook groups, and unlimited websites for the best ways to recycle and refurbish furniture. 

Check Out Websites and Online Classified Ads for Special Deals and Freebies

Check out classifieds like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Let Go, and OfferUp. You can also join Freecycle.org and be part of the free sharing community. Many people prefer not to toss beloved furniture. Like with a pet, they try to find it a new home. Some may even let you take their bulky items for free as long as you pick them up yourself.

Visit Garage Sales and Yard Sales

You save colossal money buying used furniture, and garage sales and yard sales are some of the cheapest sources. Some items can be very good, too. Owners may be desperate to get rid of them for many reasons. As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Go to Flea Markets

A flea market often sells decent furniture and is a strong source for quick, one-stop shopping. Sellers care about the appearance of items, so you won’t have to worry about cleaning them up. Pick up a dining table and chairs, and while you’re at it, pick up additional items like a tablecloth, silverware, kitchenware, and decorative items. Need an 83-pieces kitchen set? Maybe one or two basic kitchen utensils? A flea market is your answer. 

Visit Charity Organizations and Thrift Stores

Stop by donation facilities like Salvation Army, Goodwill, and local thrift stores. These organizations receive donations of furniture and do a pretty good job of ensuring each furniture item is good enough to sell. 

A Habitat for Humanity Store often has newer pieces than other locations. Many are considered “gently used.”  

Visit Affordable Furniture Stores

Shop stores like Ikea, CB2, Big Lots, Ashley Furniture, and discount furniture stores. Ross and Target are also great for furniture and other basic items like kitchenware,  linens, and drapery. Also, try popular online stores like Overstock, Wayfair, AllModern, and eBay.

Look for Damaged or Overstocked Items at Each Furniture Store

Furniture stores often have damaged or unsold stock of items lying around or in the back at reduced prices.

Explore Furniture Outlets

Pottery Barn, Macy’s, and Sears have outlet stores that sell furniture at a discount. These stores let you buy quality furniture at reduced rates that may fit your budget.

Pick Up Your Favorite Design During the Right Time of Year

Early spring and mid-fall are typically when new furniture styles hit the market, making it an excellent time to buy an older design style. You can even take advantage of comprehensive furnishing packages and even bespoke design packages, upping the quality of your home furnishings while saving money.  

Other times of the year are popular, too. Try to buy during a holiday, such as Labor Day, 4th of July, and Black Friday. July is also when furniture stores offer sales to start the summer. January is another good time since it is also a slow month for retailers.

Furniture Rentals and Lease-to-Own Furniture

Furniture rentals and leasing lets you pay a low fee per month, but keep in mind that if you damage furniture rentals, you may be responsible for the value of the piece in addition to your rental amount.

Sidewalk Dumpsters

Though this may not be your top choice, eyeing dumpsters is an excellent idea to keep in mind – and you don’t have to dumpster dive to do it. Often, furniture is too big for the dumpster and is laid beside it, making them easy to spot and grab as you drive around.

When You are Ready for the Big Move, Use Bellhop

Bellhop specializes in offering delivery assistance for any level of move. You can order a truck, hire a few extra men if needed, or get full, white-glove delivery. We want to help you make that new home a reality at a budget you can handle. Also, if you’d like, check out this guide for comparing moving company quotes to ensure that we’re the best movers for you!

Contact us to find out more!