Decorating for College Students

My younger sister starts her junior year of college this fall. You might recall last year when I helped make a few pieces of inexpensive art for her first apartment. This fall, she and a friend plan to move off campus and rent a small house for the next year or two and asked for my help decorating it. I shared an apartment with a friend in college as well, and then rented an efficiency my senior year, so I do have some previous experience designing on a college student's budget (ie $0).

To start with the design, I asked my sister and her friend for their favorite colors (blue and purple) and least favorite (pink). Then I collected a list of items they already own and plan to bring with them, depending on the size of the house they wind up renting. Since they haven't found a place quite yet, they don't entirely know what they'll need to purchase or build, so I'll be helping them with a shopping list as they get closer to move-in. For now, I've been brainstorming design ideas with their personalities in mind. I'm currently very inspired by the June 2014 cover of Country Living and am trying to keep that fun, playful look in mind while designing their new space.

First I came up with a color scheme for the main living area of lavender, pale gray, robin blue, and pops of yellow. Since my sister and I had already spent some time and money on her last apartment's decor, I based the color palette on pulling in those items while also incorporating her friend's design preferences as well. It's been a few years since I've rented, so I've been perusing lots of articles on rental tips on Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge. Some of my current favorites are 10 Ways to Customize a Rental, Rentals Doing it Right, Living with Less in California, and Making a Rental their Own in Ohio. I love the idea of adding removable wallpaper, using vinyl decals as temporary back-splashes and bringing in color through decorative accents for spaces you can't paint. In the Rentals Doing it Right article on Apartment Therapy, the lavender, green and gray bedroom caught my eye and I currently love the idea of trying to pull off a less expensive DIY version of that headboard for my sister's bedroom in their new house. I'd swap out the shades of lavender with shades of blue and perhaps find a quirky, brightly colored drum shade instead of a chandelier.

Bedroom from Rambling Renovators

Bedroom from Rambling Renovators

Last week I started pulling together an initial design board for them, keeping in mind that most furniture will either be hand-me-downs or inexpensive finds that we repaint or update with furniture covers. Once they move into their house, Keith and I plan to give them our current coffee and side tables (Keith wants to build new ones) and we might give them an old brown leather chair, that would need to be recovered. The coffee and side tables are glossy black, so I plan to either paint them white or gray and add wood planks to the top, like this, or paint them and stencil a design on top, like this. I tried to keep in mind their personalities and career aspirations while creating this initial design board. Both are studying graphic design and photography, so I'd love to incorporate some of their own work as decor too.

Click to enlarge.

While pulling together the color scheme, I happened upon that brightly patterned wall hanging from Urban Outfitters and am hoping both ladies like the idea of incorporating that as wall decor in the main living space. From there, the rest of the design came together in the boldly colored pouffes (for extra seating while entertaining), a striped entertainment cabinet (potential DIY), and trellis patterned rug. I've shared a list of sources below, but as I mentioned earlier, most of the furniture's purpose in this board is to provide visual ideas for chair covers, furniture building projects or painting inspiration.

I look forward to sharing more in the next few months once they sign a lease and I start working on some furniture projects!

Sources: Color scheme from Benjamin Moore paints (Violet Stone, Lake Tahoe, Calla Lily and Whirlpool). Wall tapestry from Urban Outfitters. Trellis rug from Rugs USA. Throw pillow from PB Teen. Botanical print from Anthropologie. Mirror, lamp shade and floor pouffes from Target. Sofa and chair from ikea. Cofee table from World Market. Bookshelf and painted cabinet from CB2.