There are few things more exciting than moving into your first apartment. Just the idea of having your own space where no one can tell you what to do or eat your leftovers you purposely hid in the back of the fridge is enough to look forward to. Of course, it also means that you are starting from scratch. You have an entire apartment to decorate, and if you are like most, you probably have limited funds.
The most important thing to know is that you don't have to max your credit cards trying to buy everything right away. Get your essentials and then buy something new every couple weeks. Besides, you don't want to make rush decisions, so take your time and watch for sales.
Paint - If you are moving into an apartment property, you probably will not be able to paint. Don't even think about painting without asking. However, if you are moving into a private rental, duplex, loft, etc., the landlord may have no problem with you changing the wall color. Paint is cheap and it makes a dramatic difference. Besides, you can use the leftover to paint old furniture pieces you find at yard sales.
Tabletop Fireplace - You may be quite surprised at how affordable these functional and beneficial art pieces are. You probably do not have the funds to splurge on an expensive piece of art yet, but you need a focal point. A tabletop fireplace will serve this purpose whether it is lit or not. Plus, it will bring a level of sophistication to the space.
Hit the Flea Markets - If you can manage to get out of bed bright and early on a weekend morning and hit a flea market you will be able to get a lot of stuff without spending a fortune. The early bird certainly gets the worm at these places. If you wait until noon all the inexpensive treasured gems have been scooped up. Keep an open mind, too. Those hideous pillows can be covered with fabric and that scratched up table can be sanded and painted, or even wallpapered.
Don't Insist on Matching - You don't have to spend your whole paycheck on a matching sofa and chair or dining room table and chairs. Mixing elements is much more desirable and it allows you to take advantage of those one-of-a-kind sales. Besides, this gives a space a lot more personality.