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Making Your Student Apartment Feel Like Home

Most student housing is (at least) a little depressing. Your walls are probably some shade of white, beige or prison-cell concrete, you’re sleeping on a weird vinyl mattress and you’re paying upwards of $1,000/month for the experience. It’s definitely better than the freshman dorms but apartment living still comes with its own set of challenges, the first of those being how to make the space feel like your own until your lease is up. You probably also want to keep your security deposit and not spend more than you need to, considering you’re only living here for a year or two. These tips are coming straight from a student apartment resident who’s just grateful to have moved on from communal bathrooms and a lofted twin XL bed.

Keep it clean - like, actually. I’m writing this completely hypocritically, because I’m in the midst of a hell week right now and (don’t tell my mom) my bedroom is a mess. Still, there have been a myriad of studies that relate a clean work environment to productivity. We’re all WFH for the foreseeable future, so now is the time to Konmari your room or at least give it your best effort. Take the trash out, don’t leave toothpaste in the bathroom sink, put your shoes away after you take them off and wash your sheets every once in a while. As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about your Zoom background being gross.

Dress up the walls - now that you’re out of the dorms, you can at least graduate beyond the poster putty grid of pictures on your wall. You still aren’t allowed to make holes anywhere but now that you have more wall space to work with, you can make it a little more grown up. Tapestries are cheap and huge - AKA the ideal way to take up some real estate without having to design a whole gallery wall or go through $50 of Command strips. Collage walls are a little more labor-intensive but they’re customizable and pretty foolproof, as long as you’ve got access to a printer. The best part: either choice is totally conducive to Command-stripping, so you’ll get to keep your security deposit.

Make it smell nice - the first thing I bought for freshman year move-in was my essential oil diffuser and it’s still sitting on my desk now. The risk of accidentally setting off the smoke alarm with a candle and making your whole building have to evacuate is probably not worth it, so heatless is the way to go. Mine has color-changing lights and came with five different scents to rotate through - pine, peppermint, lemon, lavender and grapefruit. Something feels very adult about putting a few drops of oil into my diffuser and watching it blow fog across my desk. If that seems like a lot of moving parts, you can get a plug-in Air Wick that does essentially the same thing. (Get it? Essentially?)

Plants - they don’t have to be real! IKEA sells every kind of fake plant you could think of, plus some real ones. You can get a few stems of faux flowers and a vase from a dollar store or treat yourself to some real ones. If you’ve killed every plant you’ve ever come in contact with, succulents are a safe bet. You can more or less just water it when you remember to. Although, maybe don’t take my advice, because I’ve killed succulents before.

Natural light - this one is easy, because you literally don’t have to do anything! The sun does it for you. If your bedroom has a window, open it. I know it’s tempting to close your blinds so the light won’t wake you up but it’s also objectively jarring to wake up in total darkness at 12:00 PM. The sun makes your room feel bigger, your selfies higher quality and your electricity bill lower. There’s also a whole list of health benefits attached to working by a window, as opposed to the light of your desk lamp. If your window isn’t huge, place a mirror near it to reflect twice the amount of sunlight into your room.