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Coffee Table Couch Apartment Living Room Sunny
Coffee Table Couch Apartment Living Room Sunny
Anna Thetard / Her Campus

How to Redecorate Your Apartment When You’re Broke AF

As cliché as it might sound, we all want our apartment, dorm or off-campus house to look and feel like home. Most weeks, it might feel like you only use your apartment to sleep and sob about assignments, but redecorating your abode to match your personality can make the college experience a little bit less stressful.

Granted, redecorating an entire apartment on a student’s budget (or lack thereof) can be even more stressful. Whether you’re school-supply shopping to avoid the inevitable (but necessary) furniture shopping or you’re attempting to figure what you actually need to bring to college, there are a few ways to make sure your apartment overhaul doesn’t disrupt your budget.   

1. Go thrift shopping

A picture of clothes on racks at a clothing store
Prudence Earl

Thrift stores and some antique stores sometimes have discounted furniture and decorations that you can use to revamp your apartment aesthetic. Although some of the furniture at your thrift store might be stuck in a previous decade, you can modernize your previously-loved side chair with a more modern pillow.

I get it: It’s tempting to buy a new throw pillow that matches your room’s current color scheme, but it can get pricey to stock up on your Target wishlist. Thankfully, some smart thrifting can help you cut down on your redecoration costs, so channel your inner Sophia Amoruso and haggle your way into a better bargain. 

2. DIY some decorations

Jagoda Kondratiuk
Jagoda Kondratiuk / Unsplash
DIY projects have a bad rep for being useless and overly complicated. While some of them definitely are, DIYing a hanging shelf or organization units in your drawers could save you money. Although these projects can be time-consuming, you can spend the rest of the summer brainstorming projects and actually start constructing them. No, you probably won’t be able to profit from an Etsy store after knitting a plain pillow cover, but it can help you update your apartment for the impending semester without overhauling your entire dwelling.

Searching YouTube for DIY ideas for a college apartment can be overwhelming because there are thousands of options. However, there are a few, low-maintenance options to revamp aspects of your apartment that won’t jeopardize your paycheck for your lack-luster crafting skills. (We can’t all be the Wengie of apartment DIYs, and there’s no shame in admitting that.)

  • Paint your rug: Seriously, you can paint your rug with long-lasting fabric paint. This simple DIY trick can help revitalize your rug that’s already suffered some wear from your first year at college.

  • Make an Insta-worthy flower wall: For the broke, but extra, college students, making a flower wall is a dorm essential.

  • Reuse your empty wine bottles: If you’re an upcycling-queen-turned-DIYer, you can transform your wine bottles into a simple light.

  • Knit something: Knitting for a novice knitter can be baffling. While knitting your own pillow covers might seem like more work than it’s worth, but knitting can get a relaxing and productive hobby (so it’s a win-win for your apartment and your mental health).

Related: How to Make Your Dorm Instagram-Ready

3. Try resale sites

Freelance Girl Working at Home Sitting on Sofa with Laptop and Cat
Illustration by Irina Strelnikova from Shutterstock

We get it: Craigslist, like everything else about the internet, is scary. But people sell some affordable and useful things on the site. If you’re incredibly fortunate with your Craigslist sleuthing skills, you might be able to find a person who’s giving away something for free.

Granted, Craigslist isn’t the only online marketplace where you find previously used furniture and apartment décor. While Facebook Marketplace has a variety of items for sale, you can search Facebook for groups in your college town that are dedicated to buying, selling and trading items. Typically, these groups have a plethora of affordable used furniture and decorations. Because these area-specific groups are close by, you won’t need to coordinate a day-plan just to pick up a desk.  

However, if you still can’t find the perfect apartment accessories in your area-specific searches, don’t discredit the power of online shopping. Ebay is an exceptional place to look for some obscure home furniture, art and general knick-knacks. However, if a moderately intense bidding war is too overwhelming for you (and honestly, same), Etsy is another amazing option for your dorm desires. Plus, shopping on Etsy allows you to support a range of creators. 

4. Create your own wall art


Sure, thinking about your middle school art class might still make you cringe. But crafting some wall art can be an inexpensive alternative to buying actual posters or art. While you might not plan on picking up oil pastels any time soon, you can use some mod podge and your favorite photo of you and your roomies to create a new spin on your college-fam portrait.

Plus, scream-sobbing about how you aren’t as calm and collected at Bob Ross can be an innovative form of self-care.

5. Rent your furniture

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

While you might think buying all your furniture before you start your first year of college less expensive and just easier, no college student enjoys actually moving their furniture or finding temporary storage for their it at the end of the academic year. Yes, you could go through the end-of-the-year routine of stress packing your entire apartment only to convince yourself that you don’t need that $30 futon you bought at the beginning of the year, which you sit on every day, but there are several companies that allow you to rent your furniture instead.

Organizations like CORT specifically cater to college students, so you can customize your furniture package to furnish the rooms you have in your apartments. Plus, you can split the bill with your roommates who also don’t want to go through the hassle of moving sh*t at the end of the year or the struggle of trying to find a single over-priced storage unit in a college town. Granted, if you’re a minimalist or you just don’t want to rent furniture for your entire apartment, rent-a-center also offers affordable rent-able options.

Whether you rent or own any items in your redecorated apartment, you can combine your deal-searching skills with some DIY techniques to make your apartment unique to you and your roommates. But we get it: Redecorating anything, whether it’s a single drawer or your entire apartment, can be overwhelming. When in doubt, go to YouTube and search some inexpensive DIY videos to help inspire your inner decorator. If you’re especially adventurous, you can socialize with your fellow dorm-mates so you can scope our how they’ve organized their room. Worst-case scenario you make a new acquaintance (which we realize, is just dreadful). 

Chelsea is the Health Editor and How She Got There Editor for Her Campus. In addition to editing articles about mental health, women's health and physical health, Chelsea contributes to Her Campus as a Feature Writer, Beauty Writer, Entertainment Writer and News Writer. Some of her unofficial, albeit self-imposed, responsibilities include arguing about the Oxford comma, fangirling about other writers' articles, and pitching Her Campus's editors shamelessly nerdy content (at ambiguously late/early hours, nonetheless). When she isn't writing for Her Campus, she is probably drawing insects, painting with wine or sobbing through "Crimson Peak." Please email any hate, praise, tips, or inquiries to cjackscreate@gmail.com