Build me an apartment from the walls in.
August 3, 2007 11:47 AM   Subscribe

So, I'm relocating to a small (30,000 people) high-culture town in about a week. I'm also starting over from scratch on furniture, and want to outfit a one bedroom apartment nicely. So, I'm looking for both your apartment neat tricks -and- your favorite online furniture seller.

I love where I'm going (Eastern Washington), but it's about 4 hours from everything. I'm not entirely sure what's going to be there in terms of getting furniture, so I'm thinking that I might have to resort to online furniture buying and having it delivered.
I've got a Toyota Corolla, which makes gas easy and moving difficult, so I'm only taking a small amount of personal effects. I'm planning on sticking it out there for awhile, and acquiring apartment things over the next 4 months, so budget trumps over 'I need it yesterday'.
To make it simple -- Imagine that I have nothing. No bed, dresser, TV, storage cubes, chairs, tables, lamps, anything.

Any amazing 'life hacks' that have worked well for you in setting stuff up?

I'm partial to the Arts and Crafts movement, and want to stay away from the Bauhaus school of thought. Warm woods with jewel tones over cold metal and black leather.

Where would you shop if you had the chance to start over?
posted by lilithim to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Though not exactly what you're looking for, I find that browsing around Apartment Therapy has given me plenty of great ideas for my own place: furniture, paint, decoration, etc. They also link to plenty of great online retailers.
posted by dead_ at 11:50 AM on August 3, 2007

My recommendation for a mattress
posted by goml at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just some general, possibly obvious, tips from my 2 years in a 2-bedroom apartment shared with my teen daughter:

Combine storage and decor. For example, if you need to buy a lamp table, get one with a drawer. I also have a CD storage cabinet (which doesn't look like it's for CDs) that doubles as a lamp table.

Depending on your style, if you need storage for books and DVDs, etc, get shelving with cabinet doors to keep things from looking cluttered.

Under-bed storage is good, of course. I like the long storage tubs on wheels that Rubbermaid makes.

I have a couple storage boxes kind of like this, but much deeper, which I keep on the bottom shelf of my bookshelf. They are great for catching the miscellaneous stuff that can make an apartment look cluttered really quickly, but that you need quick access to: incoming mail, papers I am working on, phone and iPod charger cords, magazines, etc. On the shelf, you can't see in the top, so it looks nice and neat.

Instead of a regular coffee table, maybe an ottoman can double as a coffee table if you have some nice trays to place on it. I have an ottoman (not as nice as that link!) which I use this way. It saves space and adds comfort.

As a general principal (and this depends on your style of course), I find that less is more, especially in a small place. Having lots of decorative items around tends to make things look cluttered, and no one can appreciate your collectible items because it just looks like a bunch of stuff. It's better to display a few nicer items.

Have fun!
posted by The Deej at 12:34 PM on August 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I always take these opportunities to pimp my friend's online furniture and interior design store, Design Public. It's not bargain basement stuff, but I always find things in there to lust after.
posted by autojack at 12:47 PM on August 3, 2007 has what appear to be excellent deals on furniture and Costco's usual no-questions-asked return policy. I have read elsewhere that this includes picking up delivered furniture that you wish to return.

Without such a return policy, I would be very concerned about buying furniture I haven't seen in person, in part because I've been smitten with many pieces in catalogues that turned out to be total junk in person.
posted by backupjesus at 1:09 PM on August 3, 2007

Since this is a small town and you're focused on budget, why not just start from scratch and acquire items at antique/secondhand stores and garage sales? If I was starting from scratch, I'd get a mattress and floor lamp first (get a cheap lamp before you head out). On weekends, scour the stores and neighborhoods.

It's hard to find low-priced traditional furniture online simply because they're not designed to be broken down for flatpack shipping like IKEA furniture and the real wood tacks on a lot of shipping costs.

Any amazing 'life hacks' that have worked well for you in setting stuff up?
1. Develop a creative eye for re-purposing furniture. My TV stand is actually a 2-level wood slats bench that I got from IKEA (like this but with a second lower shelf and in dark wood). It cost a fraction of the TV/media stands, the slats are handy for threading cables through, and the simple construction is surprisingly sturdy.

2. Pull furniture off of the walls. People always think they have to have furniture up against a wall. But when you have less furniture than space, pull it away from the wall for a dramatic effect. For a couch, you can add plants and/or high table behind it and a rug underneath to make it stand out even more visually. Don't be afraid to play around with the visual depth of objects around the room.
posted by junesix at 1:27 PM on August 3, 2007

I would think a high-culture small town would have a thriving resale shop with good items. I'm also guessing that it's a university town, so you'll find a huge turnover of stuff from the college kids. No heirloom pieces, obviously, but stuff to sit and lay on, for sure.
posted by desjardins at 2:15 PM on August 3, 2007

A couple of thoughts:

Once you reach a certain level of shipping costs, a number of furniture stores ship for a flat fee ($150-200). This can mean a great deal in terms of economies of scale.

Crate and Barrel has a whole line of furniture that comes flat packed. That can be advantageous for apartment living because you don't have to worry about furniture not fitting up stairs or through door frames. IKEA also fits well into this category, though it may be as you say, "too Bauhaus".

Cribcandy has interesting and innovative design links.

As for online retailers, I like Room & Board.
posted by B-squared at 2:15 PM on August 3, 2007

Online furniture suggestions on the cheap but still nice:

West Elm
Flor (cool rug squares to mix and match)
CB2 (perhaps a bit too modern not enough A&C)
and seconding
Room and Board (a bit more spendy but flat rate shipping!)
posted by picklebird at 2:24 PM on August 3, 2007

Welcome to the oven that is Eastern Washington. Given the sparse data you gave, I *probably* know where you're living, but wont say since you didn't.

But I could probably give a fellow MeFi'r a hand, let you know what's around the area.

Drop me an email.

(I'm a long time reader, first time poster)
posted by sethwoodworth at 2:26 PM on August 3, 2007

Favorite bargain, quality, online furniture stores:


Home Decorators Outlet
posted by LadyBonita at 5:35 PM on August 3, 2007

Yeah, desjardins beat me to the exact thing I was going to say. Look around first before worrying about buying something online. That being said, you need a place to sleep, right? So maybe getting your hands on one of those air mattresses before you leave would be a good idea. They're light, compact, and store easily, so once you finally do get your hands on a bed you can shove the air mattress in the closet with nary a concern.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:18 PM on August 4, 2007

Try IKEA for great ideas
posted by hernandez5000 at 5:52 PM on August 6, 2007

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