Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
1. Create a gallery wall with cute but affordable art.
The first item on this list of dorm room decor ideas is creating a gallery wall. A gallery wall is a great way to show off your personality and express yourself through art. Plus, it’s easy on the wallet—you can create a gallery wall by ordering inexpensive art prints online, visiting local art galleries (or their websites), or even printing out pieces from your own collection! And if you want to get creative with what’s around the house, print out some photos of friends and family and put them in cute frames from thrift stores.
To hang up your gallery wall, opt for actual nails or hooks that can be easily removed after graduating. If you don’t feel like having holes in your walls, use tape such as washi tape or poster putty instead. The last tip for hanging up your artwork is using cork boards, chalkboards, or whiteboards to display small prints without damaging the walls.
2. Pick a theme and stick to it.
When decorating your first apartment, it’s best to choose a theme and stick to it. This helps pull your room together and gives you a clear path to follow when deciding on specific decorations.
However, choosing a theme can be tricky if you’re not sure where to start. If you only have a vague sense of how you want your room to look, here are some ideas that might help:
- Choose one color as the basis for your decorating scheme. It can be the color that shows up most in the room or just one you really like—the important thing is that everything matches! For example, if blue is your favorite color, try finding light blue sheets for your bed and curtains for the windows, then add small touches like cool blue decorative pillows and even little ornaments on shelves in coordinating hues.
- You could also pick out patterns for décor items rather than colors; this works well because there are so many different kinds available these days! Try stripes (which give any space an instantly modern feel), floral prints (if you love nature), geometric shapes like triangles or squares (if abstract art appeals more).
If none of these options seem appealing—or maybe they’re too much work—you can always go with an eclectic mix-and-match style by finding pieces that match in terms of size/shape but not necessarily material or design motifs (e.g., having two chairs with different patterns but similar leg styles).
3. Add soft touches, like fuzzy rugs and fluffy pillows.
Once you get the big picture of your apartment living space down, it’s time to think about how to fill in all those empty corners and flat surfaces. It may seem like a small detail, but adding soft touches like fuzzy rugs and fluffy pillows can make a big difference in how cozy your apartment feels. Choose items that feel good to touch whenever possible: rugs made from cotton or sheepskin are great options for the floor, while soft poufs for extra seating will add a pop of color.
The same principle applies when picking out other furnishings such as curtains, blankets, and throws. These elements will not only help tie together different design styles (like modern vs. traditional), but they’ll also provide a nice contrast against harder materials like wood or metal furniture pieces—which means less clanging on those cold winter mornings!
4. Get creative with wall art or tapestries.
Another way to make your college apartment stand out is by hanging wall art and tapestries.
This could be something as simple as a doodle in a sketchbook or a painting you made yourself. You can also hang up posters, prints, or framed photos of things that you find beautiful, inspirational, or meaningful. These pieces of décor will add more personality to your space and give it some color. When choosing what art to hang on the walls of your college apartment, ask yourself: does this piece reflect my style? Does it inspire me? Does it add anything to the room?
You can buy art from local artists at craft fairs and flea markets for much less than what you would pay for artwork at traditional stores! Of course, if you’re not there yet with your budget then don’t forget that there are tons of affordable art options online too. Etsy has some really cool prints and great original artwork for low prices as well as second-hand items like vintage travel posters or antique prints that have been re-printed as posters. Many artists on Etsy also offer custom artwork commissions which might be worth considering if you have a specific idea in mind but don’t think it exists anywhere else already!
If buying pre-made wall art isn’t in the cards right now because of money constraints, consider DIYing something instead! Making your own decor is a great way to exercise creativity while saving money – plus it’s fun! You can create unique pieces using cheap materials like paint chips from hardware stores (they’re free!) or old magazines cut into shapes with scissors – plus many more possibilities if those two don’t sound appealing.”
5. Pick up cheap furniture from thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales.
While shopping for inexpensive furniture, it’s important to keep in mind that you should only purchase items that are sturdy, well-made, and in good condition. You should also consider how the piece will look in your apartment and whether it aligns with your style. Additionally, make sure to buy pieces that match the size of your living space and can accommodate your needs.
6. Use removable wallpaper as a fun backdrop for your space.
Removable wallpaper can be used to create a unique space without the commitment of traditional wallpaper. It’s an easy way to add color or pattern to your walls without having to paint them. Plus, it’s easy to install and remove, so you can change it up whenever you want!
First things first: choose your wallpaper! There are so many options out there that it can be overwhelming at first, but we recommend starting with something simple like this floral design from Wayfair:
If you’re not sure how much room will be needed for installation, measure the area beforehand. This is important because if you don’t have enough material on hand for all four walls then some could get installed incorrectly due to lack of spacing between panels (which would look bad in the end result). Additionally if too much paper gets cut off then there won’t be any overlap where they meet which means there might not stick together well enough either.
7. Liven up your walls with plants (fake or real) or patterned shelving.
As a college student, you’re probably not looking for the responsibility of taking care of real plants. You already have enough on your plate. Lucky for you, faux plants are a great way to add some life to your space without the hassle of caring for real ones!
Head to local thrift stores to find some great deals on faux plants, or check out online retailers like Wayfair and Etsy. You can also buy fake plants at craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby that many major cities have.
8. Tap into your inner home chef by personalizing your kitchen for your cooking style and needs.
Each college student has their own style of cooking and it’s important to personalize your kitchen for you and your needs. A few ways to do this are by adding a spice rack or drawer, knife block, cutting board, and rolling pin. Your spice rack can be as minimal or decorative as you want, depending on how many spices you use and how much space you have in your kitchen. Knife blocks come in all sizes so choose one that fits the size of your counter or even a magnetic knife rack if you want to free up valuable counter space. Cutting boards come in wood, glass, marble and plastic—find one that works best with the type of food you like to prepare. Lastly, add a rolling pin for rolling out doughs and pastries!
9. Add personality to a small space with color-blocking techniques and high-contrast furnishing choices, including accent pieces that add some visual interest to an otherwise simple room layout.
A color block spread is a small space design technique that adds visual interest to your apartment by dividing the space into three or four separate blocks of color. While it’s sometimes overused in small-space living, this method can do wonders for creating an apartment with personality and staying on budget.
Here are 24 room layout examples using the color block technique that range from modest to lavish, with a total cost under $25 per square foot:
10. Spice up your living space with a fabulous piece of furniture in a bright color, like mustard yellow or kelly green, which is perfectly on trend right now and sure to make any room pop!
- Spice up your living space with a fabulous piece of furniture in a bright color, like mustard yellow or kelly green, which is perfectly on trend right now and sure to make any room pop!
Mustard yellow and kelly green might be just the right bright colors to pull out of the hat if you’re looking for a burst of energy that will also look pretty darn sharp. You may want to think about using these bold hues as accents in an otherwise neutral color scheme. Use these striking shades sparingly, so that they pop against the backdrop of your overall decor. Try painting one wall or one piece of furniture—or even the whole room—in one of these fresh-from-the-garden shades for a surefire way to add pizzazz!
Decorating on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult; you just need the right inspiration!
Decorating on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult; you just need the right inspiration. If you’re looking for ways to decorate your college apartment without spending a fortune, these ideas will help!
- Pinterest and Instagram are great places to start. Try searching for “college apartment” or “apartment ideas.”
- Blogs about interior design are great, too. Check out these ones: Apartment Therapy, Design Sponge, and Decorating Your Small Space.
- Ask friends who have decorated their places recently (or even your parents) for advice—they may have some good tips up their sleeves! Or reach out on social media; people there love sharing their #homegoals with others!
- Go to stores like Target and IKEA that specialize in affordable furniture/decor items like rugs, pillows and lamps—they often display them in fun vignettes you can recreate yourself by following step-by-step tutorials found online on sites such as YouTube or Pinterest.