For recent grads and other young adults striking out on their own, furnishing a new apartment is a big task. It can be tempting (especially with Pinterest and Instagram at the ready) to want to go all-in and make everything perfect immediately. But I tend to prefer a slower approach: Not only is it cheaper and less overwhelming, it allows young people the space to develop their own style. This more layered approach to building a home (starting with the basics and going from there with less rush) also helps a home feel more personal as you add things slowly. But some things just can’t wait. Here are my must-haves for a first apartment, and some of my favorite budget-minded options at GFM that fit the bill.

1. Couch
A couch is a must for, well, just about anything: Netflix binges, pizza night, working from home. So many of our non-sleeping, non-eating activities revolve around a couch. For that reason, I also think it’s one of the areas I would recommend making a splurge with whatever your budget allows. A lumpy, hard couch that you won’t want to sit on is almost as bad as no couch at all. Thankfully, Georgia Furniture Mart has lots of options in the under-$1,000 range perfect for a first apartment. I especially love the sleeper sofa conversion option for first homes that don’t have guest rooms: You’ll be the host with the most when your friends don’t have to crash on a slowly deflating air mattress.

2. Mattress
Every adult deserves to upgrade to at least a full bed, but you don’t have to shell out to get your grad room to stretch their toes. Memory foam mattresses offer some of the best under-$500 options for sizes up through King. (And are less than half the price of those fancy mattress-in-a-box brands!) It will last for years but also won’t be a huge tragedy if a move requires it to be left behind or passed down.

3. Bed
Yes, you can technically put a mattress on the floor and be mostly fine, but actually getting a bed or headboard is such a big step to making a room go from “post-college crashpad” to “home.” Plus, a headboard helps add visual interest to a room and gives new grads time to shop around for meaningful prints and artwork to fill their space with. Like with a mattress, it’s ok to focus on saving: I would try to spend no more than $500 on a bed, and some of my favorite at GFM are half that, like those Corbin full bed that is flexible enough to work with a number of decor styles.

4. Dining Set
As tempting as it is to just eat all your meals on the couch, a dining room table is a must. A good set also takes a lot of the guesswork out of it: You get your table and chairs, often at a savings, and don’t have to worry about matching. A four-top is usually enough for most grads, and will fit well in smaller apartments, but if you want options, you can also find a table with a leaf for the occasional big dinner party. If your first home is really pressed for space, consider getting a simple desk that can be used as a dining table. If you upgrade space, you won’t have to leave your small table behind, you can just use it for its original purpose.

5. Bar Cart
Ok, this isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s one of my favorite accent pieces and you can get some cool vintage-inspired ones for under $100. Nothing feels more grown-up than having a dedicated drinks station, but you don’t have to be limited by that: A bar cart can also be used to store make-up, act as a chic coffee station, or mini library. This GFM one is priced perfectly to be a gift from proud parents or grandparents and will be treasured for years to come.

As always, live beautifully today!

-Mia, the Furniture Girl

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