Many college students decide they don't want to live in university dorms after their freshman year of college. As your sophomore year approaches, they may want to explore student apartment living with their friends in off-campus housing. Taking the leap from an on-campus dorm to an off-campus apartment is exciting, yet there are differences that take some getting used to.
One of the big things many students get excited about is decorating an apartment — much more exciting than the tiny dorm rooms. Here's how you can add personality to your new student apartment!
Many off-campus apartments aren't fully furnished, so you'll need to take care of finding pieces of furniture that work in your space.
If you already have a few pieces of furniture, but they're old or not quite to your taste, try your hand at upcycling! Paint an old dresser a new, vibrant color and switch out the hardware. Grab a staple gun and some fabric and reupholster an accent chair. Your existing furniture may end up looking better than anything you can buy at the store.
As a student, you're probably not looking to spend much money purchasing furniture. Hit the thrift store for furniture, where you can save a few bucks and still get quality pieces. The pieces you come across are probably a little older and slightly outdated, but for a first apartment, that's expected, so don't get too caught up in having the latest and greatest.
Getting furniture that plays multiple roles is key in a student apartment, especially when you're sharing with a roommate or two and have belongings of multiple people that need to fit in one spot. When you get an ottoman or coffee table, choose one with storage where you can keep blankets or shoes. Or, get a TV stand with storage drawers or cabinets, rather than one that's open underneath.
Once you've got your furniture, adding smaller details will upgrade the whole apartment. Here are a few décor tips to get you started.
The ultimate stamp of a college dorm is magazine covers or flimsy posters taped to the wall. Ditch the pieces that are hung up with scotch tape and move on to something with a frame. This doesn't mean you need to throw out all of your posters, but if you have any that you want to keep around, adding a frame will make a world of difference.
Most student apartments have very basic light fixtures, which aren't necessarily bad. However, you can give your apartment a little more personality by adding a light fixture that you like. Just get permission to switch out the fixtures or it's an easy non-damaging fix to your lights.
Purchasing a sturdy laundry hamper can make your room not look so much like a college dorm. Dorms are pretty tight on space, so many students will use collapsable hampers or drawstring bags for their dirty laundry. Upgrade and get an actual basket that looks more high-quality and maybe even a little more decorative.
Adding a few throw pillows to your couches, armchairs and bed will cozy things up! Many rooms will look bare and bland, even if there's furniture in them, so add some colorful throw pillows to make your rental feel more inviting and comfortable for you.
Rugs can give your apartment some color and variety, no matter where you put them. And, depending on where you live and what your first apartment looks like, it can really save the look of your floors. If the carpet isn't in great shape or you have ugly linoleum in your apartment, you can use rugs to cover up the floor and make it look good. This goes for anywhere in the apartment — whether it's a bathroom, the living room or a bedroom.
Fairy lights and string lights can create soft light that seems like a good idea, but it really gives off dorm vibes. These lights usually end up looking cheap and downgrade your apartment look. If you do want ambient lighting, try finding a lamp or two with a shade that softens the light.
Your dishes are probably in your kitchen cupboards most of the time, so they may not seem like a big deal. But, there's a noticeable difference in how your kitchen and dining area feel when you're eating off of nicer dishes instead of the cheap plastic plates and bowls many students use during their first year at school. You don't need to spend a lot of money on better dishes — even thrift stores will have matching dining sets if you're on a budget.
Nothing says "mature college student apartment" like a few houseplants that prove to your parents and friends that you can take care of something. You don't need to get a lot of plants, just grab one or two that you can place on a coffee table or shelf in the kitchen. You'll impress your family when they stop by for a visit.
When you're sharing a single shower with many people, keeping your bathroom items in a shower caddy is normal and very practical. However, when you walk into a bathroom and see a bunch of caddies on the counter, it doesn't exactly give the best impression.
Now that you aren't sharing a single bathroom with so many people, get rid of your caddy and keep your shampoo in the shower. If you still share a bathroom with one or two people and need to keep things separate, use hanging shower storage or a tension shelf in the corner. Just please don't bring caddies into it.
One of the big differences between dorms and off-campus student housing is that you don't have to share a room. While some may still choose to share a room to save money, many decide to have their own bedroom and, in some cases, even get a private bathroom. This means you can decorate it however you want and don't need to take your roommates' design taste into account.
Shelves are an easy way to fill space on the walls so they don't look empty while also being useful and holding items you don't have room for on other surfaces. If you can, it's best to ask your apartment complex management if you can add normal shelves, but if you can't do that, there are temporary shelving options that don't use nails you can take advantage of.
Gone are the days of shoving all your belongings in tote bins underneath your high-rise dorm bed. Off-campus living gives you more living space to play with, so you don't need to condense all of your belongings into a few bins at all times. Ditch the plastic storage and grab some decorative bins to place underneath your bed, in closets, on shelves and in the bathroom.
A typical dorm bed has some type of brightly-colored, geometric-patterned comforter. Forget that and get a more sophisticated duvet—you can even use the duvet to cover your existing comforter so you aren't buying a completely new one. You don't have to move away from patterns completely, just be careful about which pattern you choose for your duvet and make it not so "in-your-face." Keep it subtle and don't forget to add a couple of throw pillows!
Décor is important, but there's more to keep in mind! Here are a few additional things to remember as move-in day approaches.
It can seem intimidating to move from an all-inclusive dorm room to a student apartment where you're responsible for a little bit more. But, this is also exciting since you can take the chance to turn your apartment into a place you truly enjoy! Get excited to search for your first apartment and use our tips above to add personality to your next college apartment. And, don't worry too much — you'll have a great time in your new place.