Produce a Chic First Apartment on a Dorm Room Budget

You have your place. After the first excitement disappears, the enormity of furnishing an entire flat on a next-to-nothing budget may seem pretty intimidating. Fortunately, we are here in order to assist. Read on for 19 ways to stretch your dollars and generate a cute and comfy pad that you can be proud of.

Annie McElwain Photography

Teach yourself about making vignettes. The best way to learn about what works on your area is just to spend some time experimenting. Move furniture, rearrange stuff, edit and just have fun playing around. Frequently I find that the most ingenious space options and exhibit ideas come only after weeks of living in a place, so try to be patient.

Jennifer Young

Mix and match your bedding. Rather than buy a complete collection, keep your eye out for sales on solid-color sheets, published duvet cover, and pairs of cool shams. A good guideline when mixing prints would be to use one large scale (such as the leafy print onto the duvet cover), a single small scale (like the pattern onto the pillowcases), and one strong (like on the round pillow).

Watch more about how to mix patterns

Julie Ranee Photography

Keep it sweet and simple. Focus on maintaining rooms uncluttered and based around a transparent purpose. Don’t worry about not having the pieces you need right away. In the breakfast nook revealed here, for instance, a very simple table and pair of chairs seems cozy and inviting when based on a soft rug, also highlighted with a tin of blossoms and a screen of thrifted dishes around the wall.


Learn to love the classic search. If you would like to save money and create a unique appearance, there’s absolutely no substitute for spending some time around the classic trail. By choosing to spend a bit of your free time hunting at yard sales (or around Craigslist), you can be rewarded with quirky finds like the classic yellow school seats displayed here.

Tips for your classic treasure search:
Authentic midcentury sideboards and coffee tables with great, clean lines are found at sensible prices at antique stores — often for around precisely the exact same price as a new item made from particleboard.No cool midcentury pieces to be found? Paint any amazing old garage sale dresser with high-gloss white paint for a thrifty chic look.Think (and inspect) carefully before picking an upholstered piece in the sidewalk or a yard sale — bedbugs and pet stains could be a problem.

Update your dorm room bulletin board. Use burlap, linen or canvas to pay the basic dorm room bulletin board. In case you’ve got a neighborhood coffee shop that roasts its own beans, you could ask to own (or buy) one of the old burlap sacks — or pick up a inexpensive canvas drop cloth at the hardware store. Use a staple gun or finishing nails to combine the cloth to your own board.

Desire to Inspire

Don’t scrimp on hooks! It may be tempting to pick those up stick-on plastic doohickeys in the pharmacy, but please do not. Go for a more permanent alternative — it is nothing a bit spackle and touch-up paint can’t cover when you go out.

Kasey Buick

Personalize the toilet. Rather than heading right for the “bathroom” part of Bed Bath & Beyond, search your apartment for items to repurpose as quirky toilet accessories.

Glass jelly jars, teacups, dessert plates and decorative trays make excellent containers for toiletries. Mismatched mirrors may be scooped up anytime you see one on sale and clustered to a blank wall for a cool effect.

AB Chao Interiors

Make usage of these candid snapshots. What is the use of taking all those digital photographs and utilizing Instagram should they never depart from your PC? Print some out and tape them in a grid using colored masking tape to make personalized wall art.


Use old items in fresh ways. Vintage suitcases, for instance, can be stacked and used as a side table, and filled with off-season clothing to boot. Trunks make great coffee tables, and a spare seat can endure for a bedside table. Look around at what you own and see if you can’t think of a new way to spin some of your old stuff.


Shop Ikea … but know where to draw the line. Most of us understand Ikea is a wonderland of budget-friendly discovers, but if you do not want your home to seem indistinguishable in the page in the catalog, you’ll wish a plan. If you are likely to move again in the not too distant future, you may choose to prevent some of the larger, more complex shelving units, for instance. While they’re sturdy enough when left alone, they do not tend to survive through multiple moves. Solid one-piece items like chairs, lamps, rugs and smaller tables are secure bets and can easily be mixed in with more “permanent” pieces in the future.

Valerie McCaskill Dickman

Keep things tidy with white. Budget discovers like paper storage containers and simple lamps almost always seem better in white. Additionally, there is something really neat and orderly about using an entire stack of all-white anything.

You can always add more color with your artwork and accessories, but it is more difficult to go back after your apartment is a jumbled mess of prints and colors. Start secure and small, and build it out from there.

S / Wiley Interior Photography

Learn a few space-saving tricks. Solid upholstered cube stools are a fabulous pick for a first flat because they may be utilized in a lot of ways — paired up as a coffee table, tucked away as additional seating, or within reach of your favorite chair to put your feet up on. If space is really tight, consider hanging your TV on the wall over your computer, allowing your desk do double duty as an entertainment centre. Whether your TV is up on the wall or put on a console, then hanging art above and around your TV will allow it to blend in.

The Lettered Cottage

Fill an art wall for less. Mix a jumble of different-size art prints, photographs and published quotes, all in white and black, on a single gallery wall. Cut-up art books, postcards and snapshots are very affordable techniques to build this appearance, and the easiest frames will seem cohesive in white and black.

Emily McCall

Learn to say “yes” into hand-me-downs. Grandma’s piano? Aunt Samantha’s cane armchair? Yes, please! It can’t be overstated just how much having two or one nicer, older pieces mixed in will elevate everything around them.

Annie McElwain Photography

Know what to look for in budget furniture. If you’re looking for a sofa and can’t find a hand-me-down, keep in mind that picking a smaller-scale piece will probably be easier to reuse down the road than an oversize edition. Also note that budget sofas with tight springs and seats (like the Urban Outfitters sofa in the area shown here) will stand up better over time than similarly priced sofas with soft, squashy cushions.

Urban Outfitters

Brass Tiered Pendant – $64

Consider swapping out a light fixture. Do look up appropriate instructions or try this unless you can confidently shut off the power during the time that you’re working, but these caveats aside, you’d be amazed at the difference ousting an ugly light can result in your entire apartment. Plus, these days there are all those chic choices for well under $100 that substituting a light is certainly within reason. I love this cool brass amount from Urban Outfitters — it is a steal at $64, and you’ll be able to take it with you to your next place when you move.

Rugs USA

Homespun Modern Trelllis Charcoal Rug – $59

Cover icky carpeting. In case you’ve got ugly wall-to-wall carpeting on your rental flat, it may work wonders to coating fun area rugs at the top. A strong natural-fiber rug or a crisp geometric print similar to that charcoal-gray and white variant are foolproof choices.


Perpetual Blooms Towels, Neutral – $8

Update 1 thing. Select a detail which matters for you to upgrade — bath and hand towels, for instance, or coffee cups, or salt and pepper shakers. It does not really matter what it is, just that you adore it and it makes you feel good once you look at and utilize this special product.

Buying suggestion: Anthropologie, while not known for being easy on the pocket, is actually filled with a surprising number of stylish finds for your budget decorator. Colorful bowls, stemless towels and antiques are just a couple of the things I have scooped up for under ten dollars at my local Anthro store.


Don’t overlook the houseplants. If you could buy just 1 thing for your new flat, it should be a plant. Brand new, green houseplants create a place feel more like home. If a space in your flat seems like it is lacking something, try including a green plant or a potted orchid and see the difference it makes.

Inform us : Do you have any first-apartment decorating stories to share? Share your stories and tips in the Comments below!

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