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Struggles Of Decorating A College Apartment That Every Student Will Understand

Struggles Of Decorating A College Apartment That Every Student Will Understand

Struggles Of Decorating A College Apartment That Every Student Will Understand

Living in a college apartment can be a great new experience, but decorating it can be a different story. Dealing with rules and regulations of the university, roommates, and decorating your space on your own can make for a stressful time. Here are some struggles of decorating a college apartment that every student will, frustratingly, understand and how to get around them.

Not Using Nails

This sounds like something that wouldn’t be a big issue, but if you have anything to hang on your walls, then you will run into this problem. When I first moved, I had a number of hanging decoration to put up on my walls, including framed pictures, hook racks, and a wooden shelf. Not being able to use nails to secure these kinds of items can be tricky, but thankfully, command strips were invented!

These strips can work for pretty much anything you could need. There are different types that are made for heavier items and metal ones that are meant to hold picture frames. These strips can be a godsend when decorating your college apartment, and it makes for easy clean up when you graduate too. I used a few different types to complete my room, like the package that comes with the command strips and a metal piece that is made to look like a nail is actually sticking out of it. This acts like a nail in the wall, so when you hang picture frames that have only a small area in the back to slide onto a nail, you are able to use this instead. And, it has worked great!


Sometimes you may have to get creative like I did with my wooden shelf. Without nails, there didn’t seem to be a command strip product that could hold the weight of solid wood. However, the back of my shelf was almost completely hollow, with two planks of wood that stood vertically about six inches from each other. So, I purchased the large plastic hooks that I used to hang up a heavy backpack. I placed them on the wall between the two wooden planks, sideways, and slide the shelf onto them. The spacing had to be just right, but once it was, the shelf was secured. It takes a little maneuvering, but in college, you learn to be creative, why not take that to heart with decorating?

Small Spaces

Living in a college apartment can sound luxurious at first, but once you have to share the space with a roommate, then reality can hit hard. When your space is cut in half, then you can really feel like there is nothing you can do to make the small space work. You might feel like you can only have mini furniture that looks like it was made for a small child and that you have to keep all your actual furniture back at your parent’s house. However, I think that using your space wisely can make the room feel bigger even if you have someone limited space.


Firstly, keep things simple. Think about whether or not you actually need that large dresser that was your grandma’s, or that big comfy desk chair. The answer is pretty simple because you only need a few items; a bed, a desk, and a dresser. Your bed should be a metal frame or a thin wooden one that doesn’t take up too much space. Keep it sleek and simple, and your roommate will appreciate it too. You don’t need a suede, padded headboard for a small room so pair down.

Secondly, find ways to save space with organization. A desk and dresser don’t leave a lot of room for display room. However, if you have a raised shelf that sits on the desk that allows room for decorations, a shelf for books, or a make up case, then you will be more organized and save some space.

An extra hint: Use command strip hooks on the walls of your closet to hang shoes, bags, or dresses. This can give you extra room and, if you hang up your nicest pieces, then it could even add a little flare!


Expensive Furniture Stores

Money can always be a factor in what you can get for your college apartment with the prices of furniture stores getting higher and higher. Buying a $400 chair for your desk is not an option for most college students. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have nice pieces. Being creative and crafty will help you out here!

You can buy second hand furniture at thrift stores, which is a great way to find sturdy pieces that will last since most of the furniture is older and solid wood. Most pieces are usually around $20 unless you get a larger couch or full dining room set, which is well within reason. The craftiness comes in handy here, because these pieces can sometimes be a bit outdated, or just not in the best condition. A little paint or wood polish can make a big difference to an older piece and give it a second life. A burnt orange colored dresser that goes with the green shag carpeting from the 70’s? No problem! A small can of paint from any hardware store can transform any old dresser into a modern piece. Plus, sometimes you can find a smaller piece that will help you find the style you want to go for. On my first trip to a thrift store, I stumbled upon bookends that were lions. I loved them, but not the cheap chipping gold paint. So, I slapped a fresh coat of black paint on them, and build the rest of my aesthetic from there.

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For many students, having their first college apartment means that they are embarking on their journey to independence for the first time. No more style advice from your mother, or easy fixes from your father for anything that starts squeaking or sticking. That means that you are decorating your own space all alone for the first time too. You get to discover what style of decor you like and how you can go about it within your space. There is a wealth of knowledge on the internet, and especially on Pinterest, for great ideas that you can take inspiration from. But, there are a few easy ways to make the space feel like yours, right away.


Put up posters of your favorite bands. This is so easy, but it can help the room feel like home with this simple touch. Also, its an added plus that posters can be taped up so you don’t have to deal with the “no nails” rule again!

Hang pictures of your friends and family. Having photos of loved ones around, especially if you went off to school in another state or abroad, can help you feel connected even when you are miles away. You can tape up unframed photos, make a collage, pin them on a cork board, or have some framed. Whatever your style is, having people close at all times will keep you from getting homesick.

If you want a more sophisticated style, or you are into interior design, then you could get a few light pieces to put up on the walls. Personally, I like designing spaces, so I opted for this option. It is easy to find small items that can do a lot for the room. I had some older pieces of roman styled decor from my grandmother’s house. I just painted the orange, brown color with matte black paint and turned them into lovely, dark pieces to match my room aesthetic. It’s as easy as that!


These constraints are something that any student decorating their first college apartment will understand, but these suggestions can help you find ways around them and be able to make your space your own. Comment and let me know what worked best for you!

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