Apartment Tips, Home Decor & Design

College Apartment Decor Ideas: Cheap But Classy Design Guide

May 14, 2020
guide to college apartment decor

Moving into a college apartment is always a big deal. Whether you’re a freshman exploring your first few weeks of school or a senior who spends their breaks working on campus, having your own apartment is a great step. You have space for your things, your own room and a full kitchen to cook with. Unfortunately, all that can all feel a little cold without the right decor.

Almost every apartment comes unfurnished, so you may have spent what money you had on getting your bed, a dresser and maybe a kitchen table. There may not be much money left in your account, but your apartment still feels bare.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to decorate your apartment on a budget. Check out this cheap but classy guide to college apartment decor to make your place feel like home without breaking the bank.

  1. Get a Good Rug
  2. Thrift for Lamps
  3. DIY Wall Art
  4. Grow Some Houseplants
  5. Invest in Throw Pillows
  6. Buy Statement Curtains
  7. Put Up Some String Lights
  8. Declutter Your Coffee Table

cheap but classy college apartment decor

1. Get a Good Rug

College apartments typically have cheap, thin carpet and wood laminate flooring — which may peel up at the edges by your kitchen cabinets. There’s nothing that feels less like home than walking over an uncomfortable or ugly floor. This is why your first decorating step should be buying a good rug.

Find one that fits your living room, your bedroom or both to warm up each room. A good rug will have a pop of color and work as the statement piece, if that’s the only decor you can get. Try to find one that isn’t seasonal. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting a second one in the next few months.

college apartment decor

2. Thrift for Lamps

Lamps are something many people take for granted before they move to college. They make any room feel homier, but they can also get fairly expensive. You have to buy the stand and the lamp shade separately in most cases, which makes a single lamp twenty dollars or more.

Instead, find lamps at thrift stores. Thrift stores are a college student’s best friend. Check your local stores to see what community members donated recently. You may find a collection of dishes, a set of tablecloths or better yet — table lamps. You’ll get a variety of shades and stand styles to choose from and they’ll all be at discount prices.

hang college apartment decor

3. DIY Wall Art

College students often have posters hanging on their walls, but those become faded over time. Plus, nothing looks cheaper than a poster ripped from moving so many times.

For an alternative option, consider getting creative. You can make some DIY wall art over the weekend with just a few art supplies. Customize your art to the colors in your apartment or your personal style, rather than overpaying for art that takes weeks to hunt down in stores.

You can also look for frames to house your photo prints, movie posters and other less-than-durable decorations. Framing your wall art is an easy way to level up your college apartment decor with minimal effort.

what is biophilic design?

4. Grow Some Houseplants

Indoor plants are a great option for college students looking for cheap and classy decor. They have more than aesthetic benefits, for one — houseplants can have positive effects on your physical and mental health.

They’re also very affordable, especially if you grow your plants from seeds. Buy some planters are your local thrift store, buy a bag of soil and your houseplant will be ready to go. All you have to do is choose your favorite plant and decide which would be best in your apartment, depending on how much natural light you get.

throw pillows college apartment

5. Invest in Throw Pillows

An easy way to make a statement in your apartment is to decorate with throw pillows. This can be done on your couch, in your bedroom or wherever you sit.

Pick pillows with designs that catch your eye or fabrics you love. Pair them with other pillows to create a design aesthetic that makes your apartment visually pleasing to you and all your guests.

curtains for college apartment

6. Buy Statement Curtains

Curtains come in a pack of two, so you don’t have to worry about overspending on each one. First, measure your windows and check whether you need to get curtain rods. Then, head to your local superstore or search around small shops for the designs you like.

Statement curtains are easy on the budget and even easier to switch out with the seasons. The rest of your apartment decor can stay the same all year round, but you can still decorate for the holidays you love.

string lights for college decor

7. Put Up Some String Lights

String lights might seem basic, but there’s a reason they’re now staples in Pinterest-worthy college apartment photos. There are ways to make this look classy and unique. For example, you can string mesh lights up in a geometric pattern to add visual interest to a blank wall. Products with a unique bulb can help you avoid decking the place out like a Christmas tree.

Finally, you can try stringing them around a bed frame, window frame or other feature instead of attaching them to a wall. This can help your space feel cozy while leaving plenty of room for picture frames, posters and other design touches.

coffee table decor

8. Declutter Your Coffee Table

Have you ever had to set your mug down on a pile of old papers or your roommate’s dirty dishes? Coffee tables, especially in a shared space, can quickly become the go-to spot for random knick-knacks when the junk drawer overflows. Resist the urge to stack by making your coffee table a clean, welcoming surface instead.

Cute coasters, candles and other decor items will do wonders for your college apartment decor. You can also combine tips by using your coffee table to hold a houseplant or stylish lamp.


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Step Up Your College Apartment Decor

Decorating your college apartment isn’t too challenging. First, prepare your budget for minimal shopping funds. Think about how your apartment was designed and what features would look best where. If decorating a shared space, you should also consult with any roommates you have to discuss what interior designs you all like and dislike.

After you’ve planned a bit, you’re ready to decorate. Check out your local thrift stores for more affordable decor and focus on one design element in particular to play with, like curtains or throw pillows. You’ll find this the best way to decorate your apartment on the budget you’re working with.  You’ll feel more at home in your student apartment in no time.

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