How to Outfit Your College Living Room

Your college quarters' living room furnishings should be functional, inexpensive, portable - and, within the limits of the first three priorities, as attractive as possible. Whether you plan on getting a small apartment or a shared dorm, these are tips to keep in mind.

Steps

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    Make a list of things you will need. The items on it will probably depend on your living quarters (apartment vs. dorm) and budget ($100 dollars vs. $10). Your list may include:
    • A sofa. This is an essential for apartment dwellers. Look for a secondhand sofa (in your college's town, rather than your hometown, to avoid a long-distance moving hassle); plan to resell it when you move out. Other options include a futon frame plus a mattress, or a sofa that you can assemble yourself.
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    • Easy chairs, which are more portable than a sofa and so may be "keepers" when you move out. Beanbag chairs win points for low price and light weight, but you may want to go with a sturdier secondhand chair, a cushioned Adirondack chair or more-packable stacking chairs or director's chairs.
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    • A coffee table can be made by adding a glass tabletop to two large terracotta flowerpots, two stacks of coffee table books, or an old steamer trunk or footlocker. Other options include cutting off the legs of an old table or desk.
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    • A lamp table can be made by adding a small glass tabletop to a stack of coffee-table books or a terracotta flowerpot. Or buy inexpensive particleboard tables and cover them with a full-length round tablecloth, or use a file cabinet.
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    • A television is nice to have. Don't forget an antenna if you're not getting cable/dish.
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    Choose discount-store lighting if you can't raid a parent's or grandparent's attic or basement. Adjustable halogen and pharmacy lamps are often $20 to $50.
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    Bring things from your bedroom at home to personalize the living room in college. Posters, pictures, an old quilt and toss pillows make the room more homey.
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    Upgrade the landlord's window treatment (often plain mini blinds or pleated drapes) with a ready-made window valance for an inexpensive decorator touch.
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    Look for your items on places like Craigslist, or take a trip to your local thrift store. Check out your parents/grandparent's basements as well!

Tips

  • Start accumulating used furnishings several weeks before your move. Check newspaper classified ads to find garage and yard sales that have what you need; secondhand stores are another source.
  • Craigslist is very helpful.
  • Check out your local beer or liquor distributor. If you don't mind (or really want) a huge alcohol company logo, they often have tons of promotional material that they get for free. You may have to buy a keg or case, but you were going to do that anyway. Nothing says college like a bar neon.

Warnings

  • Ready-to-assemble furnishings of all types can be a bargain on two fronts. First, they are usually value-priced. And second, they can be disassembled into a very small amount of space for moving.

Article Info

Categories: Budget Decorating | Campus Life