Your College Apartment Doesn’t Have to Look Like A College Apartment

by Sarah in General / 08.14.08

I have spent the last 4 years moving from dorm to apartment, apartment to house, back to apartment and on and on. Between moving from campus to off campus, spending summer months in different locations, and studying abroad in Amsterdam, I have lived in 6 different places while in College! I think I can confidently say that this makes me an expert at decorating with no money.

Throughout the years, I have noticed that many students hardly make an effort when decorating their home. They are restricted in time and money end up doing their one stop shopping at Target and getting all of the “back-to-school” recommended items. So now, one dorm/apartment looks exactly the same as the next. It doesn’t have to be this way

Here are 7 tips to make your apartment a little less college like and a little more unique and sophisticated:

1. Buy Plants!
It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but plants seriously liven up a home and make it more beautiful. When I was in college, it took me a couple of years to figure out how not to kill my plants. I would always buy plants right when I moved-in, in the fall, and by November they were wilting and pitiful. If you are like me, then try buying hearty plants such as cacti or succulents. They are so beautiful and you can go forever without watering them and they will still live. You can go to any local nursery, Lowes, or Home Depot and you can buy a cactus or succulent for less than $5!

2. Find Cheap or Even Free Things on Craigslist
If you are broke, craigslist is the way to go. Even if you aren’t broke, you can find more unique vintage things you can’t find at Ikea/Target/Wal-mart there. My junior year, I furnished my whole room for under $100 on craigslist. I would skim through the free section and furniture section everyday and pick up a piece here and there and ended up with a nice room for no money. Everything below is free!

3. Reinvent what you already own
If you really have no money, you can refurbish old furniture for really cheap. I found a really ugly night stand at home. I had no money at the time so I just bought new knobs for the drawers and some paint and voila, a new night stand. I also needed a bookshelf but could not find one for cheap. I started digging around and found two old floating shelves and realized I could hang those and stack books on them and make a floating bookshelf!

4. Think beyond Band and Movie Posters
Many college kids have no idea how to fill up their bland, white walls so they end up covering it with band and movie posters. Although this is a fast and cheap way to decorate your room, it’s not really innovative or aesthetically pleasing. If you want a one of a kind space, think beyond simple posters and think more about personalizing your home. Instead of posters, try blowing up some beautiful travel pictures you have taken and framing them. You can put them up in your living room and it will be so much more interesting than posters. You can also try painting something yourself. You don’ t have to be an amazing artist, you can just buy cheap canvas and paint patterns and put them on your wall.

5. Organize in Fashion
We all know that you can go to the container store and buy a bunch of plastic bins and store sweaters under your bed. But some storage items will be visible so you want them to look nice. I had lots of paint supplies and had no where to store them so I found extra clay plant pots lying around and put my brushes and paints in there. It looks a lot better than a big plastic drawer holding all of my supplies. I also bought a cute magnetic board to keep all of my important documents rather than an ugly wipe board.

Even though I am no longer a college student, I definitely decorated my current home on a college budget. It’s really not that hard, you just have to put some time and thought into it when you first move into your new apartment. I know that you don’t want to put too much money into a place you don’t own, but your home is where you sleep, eat, study, party, hang out, play video games, etc. Don’t you want to be in an awesome environment when you are doing these things?

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  1. Ellen, August 14, 2008:

    Awesome post- I love it!

  2. John Hillary, August 30, 2008:

    love the post! I just found an apartment on a college rentals website, and will now try your tips when moving in!!

  3. Jessica M, October 27, 2009:

    Sweet tips, I totally need this when I’m moving in.
    Plus, now I finally have something to do with all of my paintings.

  4. the college experience, August 10, 2010:

    Great post! Love that you actually included pictures :)

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