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Decorating Your Apartment on a Budget

This summer has gone by in the blink of an eye, and I personally can’t believe that I’m moving into my first apartment in a week. Currently, my deepest desire is that it doesn’t look like the typical college apartment. You know, the one with a singular piece of furniture and nothing on the walls except a flag. Since I’m likely going to be there for two years, I definitely want it to feel like a home. The space you live in can have a significant effect on your mental health, and vice-versa (especially if you’re still doing work/school from home). However, I had the exact same wish for my on-campus housing and ended up half-heartedly decorating that space. 

Carrying out the décor plans that you have in your head – while still sticking to a budget – is easier said than done. My dorm room ended up being mildly chaotic, with a few photos and posters haphazardly thrown onto the wall. The regret I have surrounding that has inspired me to put a little more thought into what I want this new space to look like. Switching from dorms to an apartment also gives you much more space, which can be both exciting and daunting. During my recent Ikea trip (when I may or may not have gotten lost), I got some great inspo for design concepts that are both cohesive and inexpensive. Here are some ideas if you’re like me and decoration isn’t your strong suit! 

Light and Airy

If you’re unsure on what colors you like and don’t want to spend too much, I feel like this is a great place to start. It also works well if you have several windows that let light in. I’d stick with white or off-white couches, simple rugs, and pale-colored wood tables. Another great touch is potted plants. They add a little bit of color, and there are tons of small plants out there that are easy to take care of. You can add a few simple art prints, and a floor-length mirror propped against the wall or in the corner looks good too! Here are a few inexpensive products to give you some inspiration for keeping your apartment light and airy: 

  • Modern Hilo Tufted Rug from Urban Outfitters, $39.00
  • Christie Storage Shelf from Urban Outfitters, $69.00
  • 3 Legs 2 Nesting Tables by Foundry Select from Wayfair, $186.99

This is probably one of my favorite interior design styles right now, and it’s so easy. I like to think of it as a no-rules design concept, making it great for decorating on a budget. I’d suggest using a few different jewel-toned colors for your furniture, and don’t be afraid to play around with funky shapes. For example, a great color for the couch would be green! Rugs and curtains with fun prints also work really well. Finally, I think what makes this design concept is the sheer amount of wall art. Choose whatever prints or photos you like – the more, the merrier! I plan on putting several art prints, photos, and post cards together on my bedroom wall. 

  • Sorrento Poster from Postery.com, $15.37
  • Embroidered Sun Lumbar Throw Pillow from Target, $25.00
  • Convenience Concepts Oslo Bean Shaped Coffee Table in Sea Foam from Amazon, $108.06

This one is a nice go-between if you want a little bit of color, but still want to keep it fresh and airy. I love pastel-colored furniture because you can pick a few different colors that you think look great together and go from there. For example, if your couch is a light blue, pillows could be lavender and mint green. There are also a lot of really cute and inexpensive fuzzy blankets out there that come in a mauve/light-pink color, that look great thrown on top of your bed or couch. If you have any flowers (fake or real), those are a great option for your countertops or kitchen table!

  • Cozy Cord Throw Pillow from Dormify, $19.00
  • Pink Fringe Hem Throw Blankets from Target, $28.89
  • Faux Ruscus Leaf Garland from Urban Outfitters, $4.99

Finally, here are a few more items that I’ve found useful for decorating any new space. Most of these can be found at Target or Amazon:

  • Floor-length mirror
  • String lights
  • Woven basket
  • Scented candles
  • Hanging/floating wall shelves

These are just a few ideas that have helped me envision what I want my apartment to look like; the most important thing is making sure it reflects your personal style. Decor can also vary widely based on your budget, roommates, and location. Hopefully these give you either inspiration or motivation for wherever you’ll be living this upcoming school year!

Ruthie is a junior at SMU studying Psychology, Spanish, and Neuroscience. Born and raised in Texas, she loves to travel and enjoys reading, watching Netflix, and spending time with friends.
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