As I walked into my bare, grungy apartment for the first time, my heart literally stopped. I was overwhelmed by the smells of frat-land, the obscenely large stains on the carpet and the peculiar mold growing in the bathroom. The list did not end there.
For most of us, living in a college apartment may never provide the cozy atmosphere that our parents’ houses did.
“Because it’s a temporary apartment, a lot of college kids don’t think about trying to make it as ‘homey’ as possible,” says Laura Schubel, junior communication sciences and disorders major.
Schubel lives in Beaver Hill Apartments with her roommate, Kelsey Ainge, a sophomore in the division of undergraduate studies.
“Coming into an apartment with empty white walls, generic furniture and the not-so-fashionable brown carpet, we really wanted to turn the space into something that we could call ours,” Ainge says.
Here are some steps you can take to make your apartment feel more like home:
Scrub, Wash, Sweep, Polish
If you couldn’t do a full clean before moving into the apartment, I suggest doing one before redecorating. Most college students have very little time once the semester starts up due to homework, jobs etc. If you can’t clean the apartment in one day, make your roommates help and decide to clean one section of the apartment each night (i.e. kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom). In total this should only take 4 or 5 days depending on the size of the apartment.
The Three Essentials
Color, lighting and aromas are the three essentials to give any apartment a comfortable look.
1. Color: Stick to The Classics
There’s a reason almost every adult home is filled with neutral and “warm” shades—earth tones create an inviting atmosphere. I’m not saying to make everything brown, but try to incorporate soft yellows and deep reds.
2. Soft Lighting
Bring in candles and string lights for the living room and bedroom. If the apartment comes furnished and has a standing lamp, switch out the bulb with a warm colored incandescent bulb. This will allow the lighting in the room to look less harsh.
To cover the smell of beer stains and cleaning supplies, place fall-scented candles, potpourri and flowers throughout the apartment. Any of Yankee Candle’s Fall Favorites are strong enough to mask a college apartment. Three to five candles in the living room are adequate–anything more seems like you are setting up for a séance.
Not even your landlord knows what went on in your apartment for the past several years, so put a throw rug over your stained and discolored carpet. This allows you to feel more comfortable walking around barefoot and makes the room feel larger.
“Bringing the Outside In”
Good weather in State College is rare, so make your apartment feel like the weather is nice. Houseplants and small house trees can liven up a room. These are good for the long, harsh winter because they won’t die as long as you water them. But while the sun is still out, the Farmer’s Market on Locust Lane (open on Tuesdays and Fridays) has freshly cut flower arrangements.
A gallery wall is a set of unevenly placed picture frames with a concentration toward the center. The frames can have a common theme throughout. These are fun to make to cover a plain white wall. To save money, get the frames at a thrift store and spray-paint them to match the living room or bedroom. You can place prints, paintings or photographs inside the frames.
Bed & Bedroom
A white comforter is a splurge item. It looks comfier than a printed sheet and it also brightens the bedroom. If you invest in a more expensive one, you will be able to use it during your remaining years in Happy Valley. Since the white comforter stands out, put a couple throw pillows on it to pull the room together.
Pick a theme with your roommate to create a fun atmosphere in the bedroom. The ‘Indie Theme’ is becoming popular. To get this look, pin a tapestry to cover the bare wall and hang string lights along the wall. You can also top it off with colored throw pillows and a dream-catcher.
These six steps will not make your apartment your parents’ house, but they WILL make your apartment a second home.
Photos by Danielle Gallo