How to Decorate Your College Apartment on a Budget



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Hello, beautiful! This semester, I moved into my first-ever apartment - which, if I'm being honest, was one of the most intimidating experiences of my life.

For the first time, I've had to worry about things like washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom and mopping floors, yes. But, more importantly, I've also had the difficulty of wanting to make a sterile college apartment feel like home. I wanted to know that when me and Arielle welcomed our friends into our space, they would know the apartment was ours - and that when we came home at the end of a long night, we would feel like we were coming home.

Decor is one of the simplest (and cheapest) ways to make an apartment feel like home without renovating, repainting or otherwise spending tons of money. Here, I'll be sharing some of my top tips for decorating an apartment without breaking the bank! (Hint: I'll be mentioning the Target Dollar Spot a lot.)


Get an apartment you can afford.


First thing's first: if you want to be able to afford to decorate your apartment, you need to rent an apartment that's within your means. Thankfully, apartment housing is available on-campus at my university, so I didn't have to shell out the money for rent. 

At least in the city, where I live, the price of rent skyrockets as soon as you venture beyond college borders. So, whenever possible, I would definitely recommend on-campus housing as a more affordable alternative to renting an off-campus apartment! Otherwise, check out this handy rent calculator to find out what you can afford to pay - and stick to your budget. No excuses!


Compare prices.


My first word of advice? Don't jump the gun on apartment decor - especially when it comes to making big purchases like furniture. You'll want to compare prices between many major retailers before you spring for that lamp, couch or ottoman! 

One of my top tips? Check furniture.com, a site that compiles sales on high-quality furniture to offer you the lowest prices available. Unexpectedly, sites like Amazon are also a wonderful place to get deals on furniture that would otherwise cost you a pretty penny indeed.


Shop the Dollar Store.


The Dollar Store might not seem like the chicest place to shop for apartment decor, but it's actually an awesome option - especially for storage staples like food storage, baskets and bins. Another great purchase to make at the Dollar Store? Picture frames, which would otherwise run for upwards of $10.00 a pop.

Even if the options they have at the Dollar Store aren't always the cutest ones around, you can always upgrade a cheap Dollar Store piece into something beautiful. For example, I bought food storage bins at my local Dollar Store and upgraded them with cursive labels printed off my laptop. It cost me no more than $10 in total, and is both a pretty and functional way to keep my pantry organized.


Stick to a color scheme.


The simplest way by far to make a college apartment look classy AF is to stick to one unified color scheme throughout the entire place. One or two main colors, plus one or two accent colors, makes for a darn gorgeous apartment (not to mention a sane decorator). 

Personally, I prefer lighter color schemes since they bring energy and joy to the room. In less woo-woo terms, lighter colors = more light throughout the space = less artificial light from harsh fluorescent lamps and fewer headaches for Haley. So, everything in my apartment falls into some shade of pink, white or teal, which I love since it makes my space cohesive and gives me a guideline for purchasing new pieces in the future. 

Above all else, however, I recommend choosing colors that make YOU happy, not ones that please someone on the Internet. Period ;) 


Do it yourself.


I'm the crafty type, so it should come as little surprise to anyone who knows me well that I'm a huge advocate of DIY apartment decor. Not only does DIY decor often save you money on the more expensive Anthropologie version, but it also adds a personal touch of your own unique flair to your living space, which is always a positive.

With a hammer and nails, you'd be surprised with what you can throw together without shelling out more than $30-50. Need shelving? There's a DIY for that. Bookcase? There's a DIY for that. Bench seating? There's - you guessed it - a DIY for that, too! Are you sensing a theme here yet or....?



What's your favorite tip for decorating on a budget? LMK @haleymarieblog or in the comments below!