How to Decorate a College Apartment

By Isabella Trelles on March 20, 2019

Growing up, I always had a passion for interior design. This involved an endless affair of changing wall colors, buying new furniture, and obsessively checking Pinterest for the newest trends in home design. So naturally, being able to decorate my own home when I went away to college was very exciting. However, I couldn’t do this alone. My roommate, who is also my cousin, shared this same passion for decorating. Below are the steps we followed to create our dream apartment. You can follow these steps to help create your dream college apartment too!

Pick a color scheme

This step is crucial when choosing which decorations you’re going to buy! By picking a color scheme, this will give your apartment consistency, making all of the decorations coincide with each other. When picking a color scheme, it’s important to stick to about two or three colors and to try not to add any more than that. Adding several colors could make your color scheme inconsistent because it could be hard to find multiple decorations within that large of a group and you could lose the theme of consistency in your space.

You could also choose to stick to a popular color group like neutrals. Neutral colored decorations are very easy to find and work very well together. As for the color scheme my cousin and I chose, we decided to pick white and pink with gold accents (I highly recommend using an accent color because they are subtle and help match the theme of consistency). I have provided a picture of our living room to show exactly how we incorporated these colors.

Decoration colors


  • Fluffy pile rug- it’s essential to buy a rug in your main color and not an accent color.
  • Fake hydrangea flowers- they last forever and add a great touch.
  • Faux fur pillow
  • Deer head
  • Candles


  • Curtains- once again, it is essential to buy curtains in your main color and not an accent color.
  • “&” Sign- this color is rose gold to incorporate both elements of gold and pink.
  • Geometric pillow
  • Picture frame


  • Small gold pillow (not pictured)
  • “A” and “I”
  • Picture frame
  • Deer antlers on deer head


Since we all are on that student budget, we can’t always afford that amazing piece of furniture that you’re dying to have from Z Gallery. Luckily, there are ways around this, but it involves getting a bit creative and that’s the beauty of having the “do-it-yourself” option.

For my DIY project, I decided to make a bar cart. This was because most bar carts were very expensive and I knew I could make one on my own with the help of Pinterest (click here for the project I used). Pinterest is great for finding many different kinds of DIY projects when you want to find a way to decorate on a budget. Simply type in their search bar “Ikea Hack” plus whichever piece of furniture you’re trying to make. For example, you can search “Ikea Hack Night Stand”, this will provide many different options on how to make that piece of furniture.

The project I chose involved buying a plain white cart from Ikea and then adding my own twist on it. I incorporated the colors white and gold to keep our color scheme consistent and my cousin purchased pink bar car cart decorations. Below I have provided a picture of how it turned out.


Finding decorations was probably one of the most challenging parts of this decorating process. It was difficult to find items that were both inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing, after lots of online shopping I was able to find the best stores that fulfilled these requirements. Below I have listed some of my favorites:

Joss and Main-This store carries all of your designer home essentials at a discounted price (think of Marshalls but nicer). We found a few of our pillows here as well as our rug. It is fully online, meaning they do not have a physical store that customers can visit. Although some consumers don’t like this, their website is easy to navigate because they have sections for the certain style you are going for in your home. For example, they have styles sectioned like “modern and contemporary” or “cottage country adult”. Whatever’s your style, you can probably find it here.

H&M- Most people forget that this store has a home section but its definitely something that should not be looked over. This store has incredibly low prices for home essentials but you have to keep in mind that it is somewhat plain, so it’s great for people who have a simplistic style.

Target and Forever 21– I’ve listed these stores together because they are fairly alike, they are both very inexpensive and carry cute knickknacks like coffee table décor.

Final Tips

Some last thoughts include working with the furniture you’re given and compromising on design choices. As you can tell from the picture I provided of my apartment, we often have to deal with the furnishing options that are given to us because most college apartments come fully furnished. My cousin and I weren’t huge fans of the furniture but we did not want to waste our money buying a whole new sofa or coffee table. Instead, we simply added lots of pillows and throws to give our apartment a homey feel. If you have similar issues with furniture in your home, I suggest overcompensating with decorations to make up for the furniture.

Lastly, unless you live alone, you have to keep in mind that your roommate’s style might not always be the same as your own. My cousin and I ran into a few different style choices but we both knew that it’s important to keep each others opinions in mind. This involved sometimes compromising on certain decorations to find that happy medium. I hope that these tips that we’ve developed will help you with decorating your home!


Hi! My name is Isabella Trelles, I am an English major at Florida State University and I am so excited to be apart of the Uloop team! I will be posting weekly articles on various topics including budgeting, health, and mainly anything from a college person's perspective! Check my profile every Sunday to keep up with my postings. :)

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