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Tips for Decorating a College Apartment

Mandy Edwards - Thursday, July 27, 2017


Back to school season can be just as exciting when you’re a college student as it was when you were in grade school! The classes may be tougher and textbooks are often expensive, but there are other things college students have to look forward to. One of these things to look forward to might be living in an apartment or rental home, sometimes for the first time. And, of course, this milestone comes with a new level of independence and responsibility. 

One of the first tasks to tackle (after moving in, of course), is deciding how you’ll decorate your new "home away from home." The good news is you won’t need to hire an interior designer! With a little planning and patience, you’ll find that decorating a college apartment (or rental home) that reflects your style and personality can be a lot of fun -- and not nearly as expensive as you might think!

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when decorating a college apartment:

Roommates: College life is communal, for the most part. Coordinate with your roommate(s) in advance to take an inventory. Duplicating a few things is okay (most college apartments I remember had a few couches around them!), but forgetting essentials can be a hassle. Make sure you account for lamps, tables, and especially kitchen items.

Theme: Coordinating with a ‘theme’ for your place can be a lot of fun. That said, a lot of college apartments often end up having a ‘garage sale’ look. So don’t fret too much over coordinating and matching stuff. Luckily, many college-age kids have common interests regarding music, art, and ‘culture.’ And items that are truly personal passions which match nothing else can be displayed in one’s own room.

DIY: Parents are inclined to buy everything for decorating a college apartment in one fell swoop at major retail stores such as Target. But it’s a good opportunity for parents to let their kids take over some of the financial responsibility involved with decorating. College kids are amazingly resourceful! On top of that, they will enjoy putting their personal touch on their place over time. Easy do-it-yourself items include things like shelves, hanging planters, and personal desk items.

Personal items: Bedding, towels and washcloths, and favorite things from home help keep college students comfortable in their campus homes. It’s important to keep practical items in mind too, such as a nice bed, a good reading lamp, desk supplies, etc.

The kitchen: Although cooking may not be a big priority for most college kids, eating certainly is. Be prepared by stocking up on kitchen essentials such as a microwave, coffeemaker, toaster, and a few pots and pans for quick and easy ‘meals’ like scrambled eggs and soup! Items from home, such as those extra sets of dishes, mugs, and silverware will go quite well in a college apartment.

Keep it clean: Don’t forget basic cleaning supplies like a vacuum cleaner, broom, mop and bucket, kitchen/bathroom/all-purpose/glass cleaners, sponges and rags, and a toilet brush. But don’t count on them being used as much as they would be at home. Dollar stores are a perfect place to shop for these items, by the way.


Moving into a college apartment or rental home is surely a rite of passage. It’s often the first major step toward independence and self-reliance. Parents will worry that they’ve covered every base, but their college-aged kids won’t. Helping out with basics and essentials gets them started. They’ll take it from there!


Related Resources

Huffington Post 11 Cheap Ways To Make Your College Apartment Look More Grown-Up

Made Man 10 College Apartment Decorating Ideas For Men


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