Whether you’re moving into a dorm room, sharing an apartment with friends, or renting on your own for the first time, any great living space has two key elements: it should scream you, and it shouldn’t leave you bankrupt. Make your home a better place to work and live by incorporating these ideas.
Make a statement. Choose one wall – preferably the wall across from your door – and use it to make a bold statement. Paint it a different color. Cover it with framed pictures, mementos, and mirrors. Drape a curtain or a piece of fabric from the ceiling. When you concentrate your efforts on a particular area, you can make a more significant difference than if you spread your design ideas too thin.
Cultivate beauty. Don’t buy generic knickknacks just for the sake of decorating. Instead, collect items that catch your eye, from bottles to beads to tissue paper. If you keep a box of items that you can’t pinpoint an immediate use for, you’ll soon amass a hodgepodge of decorating elements from which to choose. Just keep your collection to one small box—you don’t want to create too much clutter!
Find your center. Consider investing in one unique and powerful conversation piece. A bonsai tree. A zen garden. A Papazan chair. A huge bowl made from recycled magazines. Buy something cheaply on eBay or at a thrift store, or try making one yourself! Some colleges (such Berkeley and MIT) even offer art-lending programs for student spaces, so see if your school has a similar program.
Make the old new. Repurposing your childhood bedroom furniture and buying secondhand pieces will save you a ton of money, and you’ll still have the ability to change up the look and feel of your space. Spray paint, decorative paper, and fabric store clearance bins should become your new best friends. Browse design blogs such as Apartment Therapy and Design*Sponge for inspiration.
Embrace DIY. Little do-it-yourself projects can create big changes. Tap into the wealth of ideas on Pinterest, or try one of our favorites:
- Cut a hole in an old globe. You can store your extra cash inside, as well as tack flags on the exterior to remind yourself where you want that money to take you!
- Sew a few colorful bath mats (usually under $5 at large discount retailers like Wal-Mart and Target) together to make a large, multi-textured area rug.
- Gather Christmas lights into glass bowls on your floor instead of stringing them along your ceiling.
- Cover small areas, such as your light switch plate, with patterned paper.
- Hang floor pillows from your walls to save space and make a statement. When you entertain, take them down to double as seating for your guests.
- Hang your coats on vintage doorknobs instead of standard hooks.
- Paint, dye, bedazzle, or otherwise embellish your lampshade.
- Paint a large, flat surface with chalkboard paint. If you can’t paint your walls, try your dresser or the back of your bookshelf. The ability to write or draw on your furniture will allow you to reinvent your space whenever the mood strikes.
– Anna Walsh