Design within cheap

How to furnish an apartment from scratch and still make rent on the 1st.

Photographs: Imogen Brown

Upon moving into my very first solo apartment, I realized that I didn’t have a pot to piss—or cook—in. While in the process of stealing kitchen supplies from my grandmom (thanks, Bubbe!), securing a bed, messily painting the walls and decorating floor to ceiling, I gathered some interesting money-saving tidbits. In an attempt to pay it forward, I’m sharing them with you. Show your gratitude by having me over for wine and cheese!

Mattress and bedding

Dennis Fallon, the district manager for, says there are four key ways to save on a bed:
1 “Shop during a long holiday weekend. The sales on Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day and Columbus Day are always the best. And the first few months of the new year are good too, because companies lower their prices after a slump during the Christmas season.”
2 “Get a full size instead of a queen. It’s just five inches shorter and around $50 to $100 cheaper. You can save another $100 if you use a platform bed instead of buying a box spring.”
3 “Haggling can get you as much as 10 percent off the listed showroom price. If that doesn’t work, ask for free delivery [at least a $59 savings] or a floor sample, which can normally be sold at 50 percent off [but be warned samples don’t carry a warranty].”
4 “Private labels are like generic drug store brands, and almost all mattress companies have them. They start at about $300 [about $200 less than name brands] and typically come with a 15-year warranty, while name brands only come with ten years.” Sealy Posturepedic Sandy Lane Plush, on sale for $699 (normally $859), at

Dana Middleton, a textile designer in Kansas City, Missouri on how to spruce up a plain duvet cover:
1 Find a print or pattern that you love.
2 Buy iron-on transfer sheets that can be fed through your desktop printer.
3 Print your image (in reverse, if you can, using an illustration software; if not, don’t sweat it, since most florals and patterns look fine in reverse).
4 Iron the transfer on to your old duvet.
5 Frame the original print or pattern that you found for a seamless, put-together look in your bedroom. White burst on gray duvet by inSaneity, $325, at Screenprint, $40, at

Paint and electronics

“Don’t be fooled by Super Bowl Sunday sales,” warns Laynie Newsome, VP of sales and marketing at Vizio. Newsome says sales can be misleading, and any time is a good time to shop for a TV. But be wary of big electronic stores. “Retailers that don’t sell food rely on their profit margin from TVs because they don’t have the foot traffic and income from other sales.” Try big multipurpose stores like Costco and Wal-Mart. Vizio 42-inch VO42LF 1080p LCD HDTV, $829.99, at

If you’re not married to a specific paint color, you can benefit from other people’s mistakes. “We always have 5- to 20-gallon cans of 'oops paint,’ which is paint that’s been returned for some reason that we resell for just $5,” says Rob Settimo, a clinic coordinator for Home Depot. He also suggests staying within the palate of browns, yellows and blues because those colors look great on just a few walls. Not painting the entire room means you need less paint and spend less money. Assorted paint, $5, at Home Depot, 40 W 23rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-929-9571,

NEXT Do I really need renter’s insurance?

See more in Real Estate