I’ve lived in dorms and on-campus apartments for the past three years, so I’m no stranger to trying to make a cinderblock box feel homey (Christmas lights work every time). This year, though, I’m living in a house off-campus, and there is a lot more space to work with. I’ve also reached a point where I really want to feel like I’m living in an actual home rather than a temporary space. Not having a tiny twin size bed definitely helps, but there are always more steps you can take to decorate a rental and make it feel warm and cozy (that’s basically my MO when it comes to decorating).
When it comes to a rental space you typically can’t paint, change flooring, or put a bunch of nails in the walls to hang heavy art; you really have to get creative, especially if you’re working on a student budget. These are some of the things I’ve utilized to make my new space feel like home without spending a lot of cash.
One // Bedding
This is a great option for brightening up a dark, small space. I’m a big fan of white or cream bedding; there’s just something so luxurious about it, and no matter how you choose to decorate in the future, it will probably match your decor. Much to my boyfriend’s annoyance, I like a lot of cushions. To make up for the lack of an expensive headboard, I added two large, square Euro pillows to my bed. I’d definitely recommend searching for a bedding set that comes with a matching duvet, pillow cases, a bed skirt, and a couple decorative cushions all in one; it’s so much more affordable. You can switch out the sheets for different colors and patterns (I have pale pink ones!) to change up the look, but the white or cream pieces are the staple that pulls the whole thing together.
Two // Blankets, Throws, & Cushions
I acquired a pretty boring, black desk chair when I moved into my room, and I’ve since covered it with a fluffy blanket and adorned it with a shiny cushion – it makes my whole room look better! Things like cable knits and faux furs are a fun way to add texture to your space without bright colors or patterns (not really my thing).
Three // Inexpensive Wall Decorations
I picked up a series of inexpensive little mirrors to hang in a row on a big, empty white wall in my house and they make such a difference to the room! I really didn’t want that college look of just hanging a million photos all over the wall; this looks so much more sophisticated and well-thought-out, and the set of three mirrors was less than $10 at Home Goods. It’s not as cool as an actual piece of art, but they were light enough to hang with removable command hooks and very inexpensive. They make the space feel much less cold and empty.
Four // Framed Photos
This is the most inexpensive way to get some colorful art up on your walls. Just frame your own photos in an inexpensive frame from Target or Home Goods. You don’t have to go full-on gallery wall, you can just frame one photo and stick it in the center of a wall.
Five // Rugs
Obviously, this is the best way to hide an ugly floor that you can’t remove. Rugs are a lot more expensive than the other items on this list, but they can really pull a room together. You can go for a neutral color that will go with anything or a fun pattern that will add personality to your space.
Six // Candles & Lamps
Say no to harsh overhead lighting!! This is my very favorite way to make a space cozy and warm! My parents’ house is a completely candle-free zone, to the dismay of my teenage self. Now that I can have as many candles as I want I’ve kind of gone crazy for them. I love a room lit with a couple of lamps and candles so much more than a bright, florescent light. No matter how crappy the space actually looks, warm, dim lighting will make it look cozy and inviting.
How do you decorate on a budget?