By Katie White
My home, no matter what form, is my haven. And having a mother who has a penchant for home decorating, I’ve learned a thing or two. I also firmly believe that you can have classy taste without succumbing to college style.
You don’t have to be an interior design student to make your place — whether it be a dorm, townhome, or apartment — look like a picture out of a Pottery Barn catalogue. You’ve just got to know where to look and how to put it together!
1. Be a bargain shopper: As college kids, we don’t have a lot of money or unlimited funds, but that shouldn’t stop us from having nice things and a place that not only looks good, but represents who we are. You just have to know where to look.
Target, Meijer and Wal-Mart are obvious choices (I personally have found too many good home décor things there, and you can’t beat the sales), but places like Hobby Lobby, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are a treasure trove of unique home goods.
Thrift stores, antique shops and Good Will actually make home shopping a bit exciting because you have to hunt for stuff and it’s never the same thing repeated. You’ll get things that nobody else has and will give your place a homier feel.
Plus, you can always fix up less than perfect finds with spray paint. Krylon has expanded their line of spray paint to an array of colors that make cans of paint obsolete for small jobs.
2. Find your style: Its probably easier said than done, but it actually helps at least look like your place is clean. When you’ve got lots of stuff that doesn’t go together, your home gives off a messy feel. I am one to talk because I have a lot of stuff and like lots of eclectic pieces and décor, but when you can hone in on one look, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier shopping becomes and what all you can find
3. Be bold: Some student living residences allow you to paint, as long as you paint back to the original color and to that I say — do it!
Color evokes all kinds of feelings, and while living in Kalamazoo in the winter, everybody could use something bright and cheerful to come home to. So, why not have bright colorful walls?
If you can’t paint, I highly recommend wall art and furniture that’s not only cozy, but eye-catching. My walls are covered with pictures of people I love, movies I like, and stylish inspiration.
Don’t be afraid to go floor to ceiling, and make it a daily reminder of what makes you happy! You can use color anywhere, whether it be in your bedding, your towels and rugs, or your shower curtain.
Target always has great, fun colored towels that are affordable and if you catch a good seasonal collection, and any piece can be made to last all year long. Around February and Valentine’s Day, Target had a collection of home goods with bright colored hearts. It didn’t look overly Valentine-like, so I scooped up a new shower curtain for around $7 on sale. Now it’s a cheerful greeting every morning while I get ready for my day!
4. Fitting everything in a small space: Some people luck out with square footage, but for those of us that aren’t living like we do at home, organization is the only way to maximize your space. Organizing your belongings doesn’t have to be cold and ridged feeling, as well as time consuming. Put all your books in one place; stack them, neatly line them up and arrange them collectable items you brought with you to school, or get a bookshelf that you can put everything on. Make your books, magazines or DVDs a display piece. Old soap dishes and dessert display platter make excellent jewelry holders and put them on display like an upscale boutique. Colorful plastic milk crates work wonders in place of expensive dressers or nonexistent pantries or small closets.
But mostly, remember to be creative! You can most certainly have champagne taste on a beer budget. College decorating doesn’t have to be about beer box collages or grandma’s 1970s hand-me-downs. The places we call home for the short time we’re away at school don’t have to be a stereotype, but should be somewhere we’re comfortable and proud of.