Last night I was watching a television show called, “The Middle” in which the wife was expressing to her husband how she wanted to make their bedroom a sanctuary to escape from the rest of the chaos that surrounds their comedic family. This episode got me thinking, if anyone needs a bedroom sanctuary it’s a college student. It needs to be a place to escape the craziness of classes, meetings, and obligations. A normal bedroom is composed of 3 types of things: staples, necessities, and trinkets. While, the bedroom displays at IKEA can tempt you to purchase the entire room then and there, you can create your own unique “sanctuary” for much less than a mass-produced, cookie cutter room will cost you.
Staples (i.e. big furniture)
Bedroom staples for the average college include: a bed frame, mattress, desk, dresser, nightstand and bookcase. The total cost for these items from the popular IKEA malm collection is $648, not even including a mattress. Now pick up your jaw from the floor, because if you use the right tactics you can cut that price in half.
1) Craigslist-Craigslist tends to get a bad rep, but most of the people selling furniture are people just like you. Take a friend with you to pick up an item and you’ll be fine. The secrets to wheeling and dealing on this site are to check regularly (people are constantly adding new items and they’ll be gone if you wait too long), send an email to everyone who is selling something you want (the majority of them won’t respond so better safe than sorry), and always make an offer before you agree to pay the posted price (people are usually willing to negotiate.) Sometimes you can even find super cool items! For example the dresser I have in my current bedroom was found on Craigslist and I later discovered that it was used in a movie set!
2) “Buy/Sell/Trade” or “Goods Exchange” Facebook pages– Many universities have Facebook pages that students have set up where anyone can post an item they would like to sell. During the summer months when leases are coming to an end, these pages become filled with every sort of furniture item imaginable-at rock bottom prices. Students often don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving furniture so this is a great alternative if you’re sketched out by Craigslist.
Necessities (i.e. sheets, bedding, desk chair, lamps)
1) HomeGoods– One thing you never want to purchase second-hand is bedding. HomeGoods has high-quality, trendy bedding for GREAT prices. White bedding is all the rage right now, and I was prepared to spend over $100 on a duvet cover at Target when I found at almost identical bedding set for $65 at HomeGoods. Plus the accent pillows are to die for. I’ve been searching for a tall leaning mirror forever, and I snagged one here for $35 as opposed to $100 everywhere else. FYI: Each store carries different items so you can’t shop online.
2) Kohl’s– Do you know how much a good sheet set costs? I sure didn’t when I started buying items for my new apartment, and I was shocked when I found out how expensive they could be! But Kohl’s was my saving grace, because when they have a sale you can almost never beat their prices. Now, you can find quality sheets at both HomeGoods and Kohl’s but at Kohl’s I was able to snatch a sheet set for $32 when it was originally marked for $80. Can’t beat that.
Trinkets (i.e. wall decor, frames, shelving decorations)
1) Goodwill– Thrifting is hip now right? You will find the most unique, one of a kind items at Goodwill. Especially if you’re looking to create a wall collage. The cost of buying new frames seems outrageous when you can by the same frames for $0.99 to $2.99 each at Goodwill. Plus sometimes you’ll stumble upon some treasure, like I have an original art piece framed in my room that I found for $1.99 at Goodwill. Obviously the artist didn’t make it big, but it beats a cliche black-and-white picture of the Eiffel tower.
2) Ross– These prices are even lower than HomeGoods and the selection is not bad at all. I had been wanting to get a wooden deer head to hang in my room, and everything I had found thus far was around $75. WAY out of my budget. Then at Ross I found the most adorable little deer head to set on my dresser for $16. It adds the look I was going for without breaking my budget. FYI: Just like HomeGoods, every store is different so you can’t shop online.
3) Antique shops– If you’re willing to spend a day, hunting for the perfect item then go antiquing! Antique shops have THE MOST original, conversation pieces you will hope to find. Not to mention, some of them are pieces of history. Antiquing is one of my favorite decoration techniques because you never know what you’ll find. I found a framed 1949 magazine cover featuring Elizabeth Taylor (I die.) at an antique shop called Dixie’s Den of Antiquities in a little Texas town and it’s the envy of all of my friends.
Best of luck creating your little sanctuary, make it an expression of yourself. Do you have any tips for decorating an apartment on a budget?