My first apartment was pretty small but I could afford it. How much room does one person need, anyway? 600 square feet at $495 a month wasn't bad at all! (it had some interesting issues though)
The funny thing about your first home is that people suddenly have stuff they can give you. A lot of my first furniture came from Seester who was moving out of her place and in with cousins while she finished school. She also bought me my first set of drinking glasses, pots and pans, and several other home items she knew I would need. I had a few things from starting my "hope chest".
It didn't take me long to get a cat (added to the parakeet I already had). Not long after that, D moved in. Then he got his own cat. We were broke. If someone offered us something, we accepted. His mom gave us a lot of food (which tended to be left in the living room until put away. She was a compulsive coupon shopper). I recall that the living room was usually neat (D is a very tidy individual) but the bedroom was a mess. The closet was full of clothes, on the floor, on the rack. D actually had more clothes than I did so I was able to blame this on him.
Then we moved out separately and I had more room. So I filled it. I had a better job and suddenly had disposable income. I shopped. If I was unhappy, I would go to the mall. I'd hit the craft store, Wal Mart, anywhere, and buy things just because I could. My new, bigger place was a mess. To save money, I invited D and his new roommate to move in. He was able to have an escape area in the dining room, which he took over as his office. Everywhere else though, it was kind of a miracle it you could walk. I would joke that it was possible that I could trip and die in my computer area. There wasn't a path, there were places I could step and hit carpet. In the bedroom, was the "volcano"; a mass of clothing that was piled in a tub, roughly cone shaped. We still joke about the volcano.
I didn't think it was that bad because my friends would still come over. The roommates didn't complain. Even the eventual new roommates didn't complain. I eventually got rid of the volcano and kept up my bedroom, but the rest of the house, well...
It wasn't until I started packing up to move in with C that I realized just how bad it had gotten. I had already put restrictions on my purchases, which I still follow (mostly. sometimes I slip.) but I had lived in that apartment for 5 years. There was a lot of accumulation. I discovered bags of new stuff that I had purchased and never put away. Things that I had two of because I had forgotten that I already had one. I got rid of a lot, but still had a storage unit. All my stuff wasn't going to fit at C's house.