It’s not easy decorating an entire apartment on a budget of, say, $200. But when you’re a college student in a new town just for the summer, with both a blank apartment and blank bank balance, $200 looks pretty good. And it’s totally doable with the right eye, a wad of $5 bills, and a whole lot of patience for Google Maps when driving around from thrift store to thrift store. Here’s how I did it:
It took visits to several different Goodwills before I found the right furniture, and that was ok- I couldn’t be super picky if I wanted to only spend $4 on a coffee table, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to pick a table I liked! When searching for thrift store finds, you might have to search far and wide, but it literally pays off. My tip: You can always polish! See the diamond in the rough. A coffee table might look like a piece of junk at first glance, but all it takes is some scrubbing to reveal what might be a funky, antique-looking treasure.
Art gallery, or college student apartment? You can’t tell the difference!
As an art history minor, I have a special thing for art, and I like decorating with prints of my favorite masterpieces and fashion illustrations. Above on the left you’ll recognize Van Gogh’s Starry Night (found framed at Goodwill for $3), just one of the gorgeous works I found sorting through the stacks of art at thrift stores. My tip: Get on the ground and get your hands dirty- it takes some digging to find the really good stuff that everyone else misses, like the fabulous Vogue canvas I found, pictured below.
Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find works that pair together really well- somehow I found another Van Gogh, Chair, for $2, and I was stoked to be able to put two Van Goghs together on my wall to add a touch of elegance to my humble abode.
My least favorite part of decorating, and my mother’s favorite. But when you’re thrift store hunting for good dishes, you can find some really unique plates that give more personality to your kitchen. I found bowls that had watercolor-looking pictures of fish on the bottom, and I absolutely love them. My tip: As with buying dishes at any store, look at the bottoms of each to see if they’re microwave and dishwasher safe (especially if you’re a 20-year-old student like me with no use for dishes that you can’t chuck into the dishwasher). Also, keep an eye out for dishes that come in sets of four!
Thrift stores are always perfect places for discovering other miscellaneous decor. For instance, I’ve always thought that board games brighten up a living space with a homey look, so I bought vintage board games like Yahtzee and Battleship for my TV stand. Each game costs about $2-3 at a thrift store location (Goodwill has really good board game sections) and they’re usually in decent condition. My tip: Make sure to check that all the pieces are there/legible before buying!
Other accents I love: cushions for chairs, flower vases, and baskets. All easy to find!
There you have it- a quick guide to thrift store decorating. Feel free to let me know how your own decorating goes. Happy hunting!