Designing an Apartment on a Budget


Hi! Thanks for checking out our latest blog, Designing an Apartment on a Budget. Ultimately, you want to grow occupancy, and your model apartment has a lot to do with how well you convert your tour takers. Whether you partner with us or go the DIY route, we are here to help! We hope you enjoy the post. In this blog you will learn:

    • The average budget for a DIY one-bedroom apartment
    • How to budget for a DIY one-bedroom
    • The value of outsourcing your pre-furnished apartment project


Members of the professionally managed multifamily housing industry know that there are plenty of times when designing an apartment on a budget is a desired skill to have. Whether you are tasked with creating a note-worthy model, or pre-furnished apartments for short-term guests, creating a stellar design with a less-than-stellar budget can get tricky. That’s why I thought it would be useful to share Model55’s designer tips for creating a beautiful apartment on a budget.

Set a Realistic Budget

Before you begin, it’s important to remember the reasons why you need to design an apartment in the first place. If you’re designing a model apartment for one of you communities, whether it is a refresh or new development, you are doing it to help tour conversions and ultimately increase occupancy.  So, setting a budget that can accommodate appropriate furniture, art, and accessories is important.

One thing about DIY decorating is that your budget will not include vendor related services. Therefore, you will not need to budget as much cash upfront for your model or pre-furnished apartment. Depending on where you shop, the essential furniture for a one-bedroom apartment may cost you in the range of $9,000 to $12,000. However, we urge you to read our blog, highlighting the lost opportunity costs your community will incur by focusing your employee resources on designing and furnishing a model.


Create a Furniture Plan

Now that your budget is set, the first thing you will want to do is create a furniture plan for each room. Model55 does this by sending a verified Local Staging Partner out to the community to conduct a pre-measure of the unit. However, if you are DIY-ing it, you will have to do this part on your own.

Before you begin, measure each wall in the unit. We recommend using graph paper because it’s easier to convert feet. Be sure to mark different points that will need to be designed around such as electrical sockets and windows. Below is a picture of a pre-measure done by one of our LSP’s. You can make yours as simple or complicated as you want. The end goal is to know where you are going to place the furniture you purchase and that it will fit.

Example of a hand drawn pre-measure plan.

Make a List of Furniture & Essentials

The next thing you will want to do is create a furniture list. Organize the list according to room. On your list, make note of any size details you want to remember while shopping and a price range for each room. A one-bedroom with just the essentials might look something like this:  

Living Room ($3,500 - $4,500)
  • Console table
  • Coffee table
  • End table
  • Lamp
  • Floor lamp
  • Accent chair
  • Loveseat or sofa
  • Area rug
Dining Room ($650 - $800)
  • Small or pub table
  • 2 Appropriately scaled dining chairs 
Bedroom ($3,500 -$4,500)
  • Area rug
  • Dresser
  • Mirror
  • At least 1 nightstand
  • Headboard & frame (queen)
  • Or platform bed (queen)
  • Accent chair
  • Table lamps
  • Mattress (queen)
Bedding ($400 - $500)
  • Comforter
  • Sheet set/ pillowcases
  • Decorative pillows
  • Standard shams
  • Standard pillows
Bathroom ($200 - $250)
  • Shower curtain liner
  • Shower curtain
  • Shower hooks
  • Towel set:
    • Hand towels
    • Wash towels
    • Bath towels
  • A toothbrush holder
  • Soap pump
  • Tissue box
  • Waste basket

Make a List of Art & Accessories

The remainder of your shopping list will be art, accessories, and a, “wouldn’t it be nice…” category to help fill the living and bedrooms. Model55 has standard art and accessories quotas by room. Even if you’re designing an apartment on a budget, and that budget is not as generous as you would like, it’s important to include a basic level of layering with art and accessories. Giving your design personality will make it more memorable in the minds of your potential residents. Here is what your list of standard art and accessories might look like:

Kitchen Accessories ($75-$125)
  • A cutting board
  • Dish towels
  • A paper towel holder
  • A tea canister
  • Mugs
Living & Dining Accessories ($400 - $500)
  • 3 to 4 End table accessories
  • 3 to 4 Coffee table accessories
  • 3 to 4 Console table accessories
  • 2 Dining place settings
Bedroom Accessories ($200 - $300)
  • Tabletop accessories for at least 1 nightstand and a dresser
Living & Dining Art ($500 - $600)
  • 2 XL Pieces of art
  • 1 L Piece of art
Bedroom Art ($300 - $400)
  • 2 Large pieces of art
Bathroom Art ($50 - $100)
  • 1 Medium piece of art

Do the Math

Once you have created your shopping list, add up your expected costs. If you have any left over $$$ you can put it towards additional furniture, art, and/or accessories. If you follow the plan above, your essential list of items will total about $9,775 - $12,575.  Check out a list of Model55 designer recommended items to add to your apartment design below.

Wouldn't It Be Nice...
  • Drapery & window fixtures for the bedroom and living area
  • A bookshelf for the living room
    • Additional accessories for the bookshelf
  • A quality fake floor plant (we love fiddle figs & olive trees)
  • A console for the entryway
    • Tabletop accessories for the console
    • Mirror or art for the entryway above the console
  • Additional art for the kitchen
  • Additional kitchen accessories, such as a colorful tea kettle
  • A desk and chair for the bedroom
    • Tabletop accessories for the desk


I hope this post helped you in creating a sell-worthy pre-furnished or model apartment. If you are part of the multifamily or senior housing industries, and would like additional information about designing an apartment on a budget, or any of our turn-key apartment design services, please don’t hesitate to email me at Thanks for reading!




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Amanda Beausoleil

Model55 purchases, designs and installs model apartments quickly and efficiently, reducing the cost and time of setting up your own model apartment.

  • Blake Riley
    Posted at 16:38h, 01 May Reply

    I found your article so helpful! Designing or i should say good designing by staying in a budget isn’t an easy task. Model55 really seems like its good at what it does Im gonna take a print out and keep the article with me. Thanks for sharing Amanda. .

    • Amanda Beausoleil
      Posted at 10:40h, 04 May Reply

      Thanks Blake! Glad you enjoyed it!

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