Furnishing a new apartment on a small budget is a slow process. You will learn how to pay attention to what speaks to you and how your home feels to you. Having a smaller budget allows you to embrace the joy found in the smallest details and improvements along the way.
Buy a good bed: You spend a third of your life in bed, so make sure it's right for you!
Invest in good quality essentials: Try to surround yourself with beautiful things you actually use and love. You will experience more joy in everyday activities, by buying those good quality essentials and ultimately you will also spend less money redecorating/ replacing.
Find a sofa you love and try it out: Having a lower budget means you can't afford to take risks buying online. You have to do the leg work and try out sofas. I bought my sofa from the discounted section of IKEA, it was an old showroom model, missing it's cover. I quickly snapped it up and bought myself a new cover. In the future, I'd love to buy a sofa for appearance and comfort, but decided comfort and price were the most important qualities for me at that time.
Temporary fixtures: If you're moving into a rental, don't be afraid to make temporary changes. I bought 2 rolls of contact paper for my kitchen and covered one side of my fridge and the back panel of my kitchen island. The next temporary solution was removing my kitchen cabinet doors to give my kitchen a more spacious airy feeling.
Don't rush: Add things slowly. I started with a very neutral colour pallet, white, cream and grey which I am building on. Try to avoid buying loud piece unless you know exactly how you want your apartment to look. Taking your time will allow you to shape a lovely home effortless.
Be patient and enjoy the treasure hunt!