Moving Diaries: What One Twentysomething Spent When Furnishing Her First Studio Apartment

credit: Carolin Lehmann

Welcome to Moving Diaries, where we ask people what they needed to buy or get rid of in a move, how much they spent, and what they learned. Want to be featured? Submit photos of your place and an overview of your move to, subject line "Moving Diaries." Today:

Who: Carolin, age 23

Moving from: A furnished guest-house studio in Beverlywood (Los Angeles), California

Moving to: An unfurnished studio apartment with a balcony in Beverlywood (Los Angeles), California


bar stools
credit: Carolin Lehmann

This is the first apartment I've lived in that's unfurnished, so I had to start from scratch. It's a work in progress, but I finally have all the essentials. The most-complimented pieces of furniture in my apartment are these medallion-patterned bar stools from Wayfair. They were a much-appreciated housewarming gift from my parents. They're incredibly comfortable and worth it overall, but were frustratingly difficult to build. Maybe I'm the problem in this situation, but the project took me a good six hours to complete. Tragic.


credit: Carolin Lehmann

As is customary in studio apartments, my "kitchen" transitions directly into my "bedroom." The issue with studios is you can blink once and they already look cluttered. To combat this, I decided to purchase furniture within a collection. Specifically, the Ikea Hemnes collection. My bed, nightstand, TV unit, and even bathroom vanity all go together perfectly. (But more on that later.) I'm very happy with my Hemnes bed frame, and especially because I didn't have to build it — I had Ikea send a team to deliver and build everything I purchased. Sounds great, but be warned: They had to come by three times to build my furniture because of missing pieces. No comment necessary.

duvet cover
credit: Ikea

I picked this bedding set up on a whim while at Ikea, and the quality is surprisingly nice considering the uber-affordable price point.

credit: Serta

A mattress may just be the most stressful purchase ever, so I decided to go with the exact same one I have in my childhood bedroom. And just my luck: Serta was having a 50 percent off sale that day (or so I was told). I would highly recommend this model if you prefer a mattress that's on the firm side.

credit: Ikea

I'm more than happy with the matching Hemnes nightstand as well. It has only a little drawer, which prevents you from stuffing clutter inside, never to see daylight again. I can appreciate that. I purchased the lamp sitting on top on sale from Target's Threshold line, but it has since sold out.

Living Room

credit: Carolin Lehmann

And right next to my bed: My "living room" (aka a sleeper sofa). This dark gray one has both pros and cons. The cons are that the fabric isn't of the nicest quality. It's not scratchy, but it isn't soft either. Also, plopping down aggressively on this sofa is a no-go. It feels like you hit springs, or whatever the "bed" part of the couch is. Not nice. But that said, I've received no complaints from friends spending the night. To summarize, I am happy with this this purchase, considering my budget limitations.

credit: Carolin Lehmann

One perk that comes along with working at Hunker? Sharing an office with home decor retailer Society6. I was gifted this eyelash pillow (which truly speaks to my make-up loving soul), and I plopped it right on my couch.

Yes, this millennial has some millennial pink in her apartment. Sue me.

credit: Carolin Lehmann

The pink in this art print that hangs to the left of my sofa matches the pillow and blanket perfectly. Plus, this piece is another compliment magnet with its Godzilla-size cactus and completely unbothered miss in a midi skirt. I promise you can't go wrong.

tv unit
credit: Carolin Lehmann

As with my other items from the Hemnes collection, I'm very happy with the quality of this TV unit. It offers great storage space as well.


bistro set
credit: Carolin Lehmann

This bistro set from Walmart offers a bit of a pick-me-up to my sad, little balcony. (Calm yourself: I know balconies are a rarity in the city, but I can still call it ugly while being deeply appreciative of it, ok?!) I wanted something both comfortable and tiny enough to fit the space, and this set is perfect. It's super comfortable, unlike those rickety, metal table-and-chair sets that are typically marketed toward apartment dwellers, and it was also super easy to build. I really have no time for uncomfortable chairs (see bar stools above), so trust that my standards are high.

My next project? Covering every inch of this balcony in plants to beautify it.

Total Cost

$2,119 (not including the gifts)


If you think furniture assembly is what nightmares are made of, fit an assembly service into your budget. But know that even with someone else piecing together your furniture, something may (and likely will) still go wrong.

It's worth it to go a bit over budget or to compromise on looks when it comes to comfortable seating. I spend way more time on my bar stools and bistro chairs than the couch.

When furnishing a small space, it's worth it to buy pieces that match. My apartment miraculously doesn't look cluttered.

If you can purchase something you've previously tested out at your parents' or friends' homes, go for it. I'm so happy with my mattress, and it makes me feel right at home.

Carolin Lehmann

Carolin Lehmann

Carolin Lehmann is an Associate Editor at Hunker. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and has previously written for HuffPost, Seventeen magazine, and a variety of local news outlets. As a studio apartment dweller, she's always on the lookout for new ways to decorate a rental on a budget.