Value, Budget, Replaceable: It's the time in your life where the journey's just starting. You're likely in your first career, living on your own for the first time after college, etc. You may end up married in two years, or moving across the country for work, as your life starts to unfold. Now is not the time to make investment purchases for your place. Stick to things that can last, without question, but that you're not afraid to leave behind (or sell) should your life change and you end up somewhere else. Ikea is a go-to brand and can work, but don't overlook places like Urban Outfitters (especially online) and CB2 for its less pricey stuff.
Making a place home will be different in each stage of your life. Here's a quick guide to what you'll need, what to do and where to shop:
Settling In...With Stuff: In your 30s, your career and life will have found its groove and you'll likely find that you're in a relationship, or have moved somewhat past the go-go-go (and go out!) stage of your decade before. You may start to have people over, dinners and other entertaining. At this stage, you will likely find a need/desire to expand on the basics that carried you through your first years on your own, such as more elaborate cookware, a silverware and dinnerware update, etc. Seeking slightly higher quality, you'll start to gravitate toward Ikea's more expensive offerings, shop West Elm, Z Gallerie and Crate and Barrel.
Investment pieces, long term: By now you might be married, have children, and own a home. This is where you'll be seeking ultimate durability and long-term value of what you buy for your place. It's also an ideal time for buying investment pieces such as decor, art, quality rugs and other furnishings. You may expand to higher quality linens, towels and other items from past buys. New areas like outdoor furniture and large appliances including washing machines, dryers, etc. can be a part of the mix now. At this stage, shop it all -- buy from where and what makes sense and gives the most value.