Interior Design for 20-Somethings

You just started renting your first apartment but now you’re stuck with furnishing it on a budget. I’m 26 now and I have the constant juxtaposition in my head between designing spaces for clients that have way more in the bank than I do. I’ve worked in their homes and returned to my tiny flat and thought ‘why is my home in shambles’. Our first flat had a mix of things from my parents, grandparents and Chris’s family. In a weird way, I loved it. However, I struggle going to IKEA and buying the cheapest linen off their shelf when I know how good 400 thread count linen feels. I spent a total of R3000.00 on kitchenware and linen, had I got the 400TC, I would have only set the base line at R3000.00 and gone upwards from there. I will say upfront that while my chosen vocation is Interior Design, I personally try to live a minimal lifestyle. I could easily go into debt and have a very beautiful home with all my favourite designer goods but it’s an everyday decision not to. So how do you make your first home beautiful when you're still on a graduate income and you don’t want to rack up debt?


White linen

Interior designers almost never specify linen that isn’t white. There may be the odd project that isn’t right for white linen but if you want to start with a good base - it’s with white linen. Bed sets that have patterns on, are never a good idea in a space. I know all the stores sell them but you really shouldn’t buy them. They make your bed the feature, when in fact it shouldn’t be. Go for white linen so that you can make a feature on your headboard wall or somewhere else in the room that calls for it.


Hand me downs

Most of the baby boomers have way to much kitchenware on their hands. If you can convince your parents or grandparents to let go of a few things, do it! My Ouma passed away not too long before Chris and I moved in together so we were fortunate to be able to use many of her things in our flat. She would probably cringe if she was alive. Our every day plates and bowls were her fancy set of dinnerware that she only took out on special occasions. I used her gorgeous teacups to serve punch out of at our first house party. I felt a little guilty but more importantly I was glad they were being used.


Thrift stores

Preloved goods, charity shops, 2nd hand stores, what ever you call them - these guys are your friend. They have really rad things and because whats on trend is a cycle, often you’ll find things that people are tired of that are now back in fashion. I recently had to kit out our entire kitchen in KL as we didn’t get the chance to pack our things from home. I learned that fully furnished doesn’t mean fully ‘kitchened’. I hated that I had to buy new things when I knew we had everything stored back home. It just feels so wasteful so I decided the best thing I could do to help the environment and save my budget was to shop at a preloved store. If you want more tips on how to shop for your home at a thrift store, click here.



As I mentioned earlier, I’m a minimalist. I’m a big fan of buying a quality piece of furniture that will last a lifetime. Honestly, I would rather save for an entire year to buy one nice thing than buy a cheap one that will only last a couple years. This is especially true for bigger items. Things like dining room tables, sofas and basically any heavy furniture. Save for them and buy really timeless pieces that won’t date and are great quality. If you want your house to be on trend every season, you can always accessorise your staples with scatters or seasonal decor from stores like Mr Price Home.



A fresh lick of paint rapidly transforms an interior. You’ll never go wrong with painting your walls white. Opt for an off white with warm grey tones as that’s what’s hot at the moment. Avoid whites with yellow and orange undertones. You can paint any surface. Chalk paint brings new life to furniture. My first boss painted his bathroom tiles white and old kitchen cupboards are brought back on trend when painted. Don’t be afraid of the melamine, with the right primer and paint you won’t have any peeling.


I’ve loved creating more informative posts for you. There are so many tips I could share so I think I might do another post like this if you want me to. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published