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Decorating on a dime

By MELANIE POTTER
On April 10, 2014

  • Walking into Emily Andras’ apartment, you’d never guess her impeccably decorated space was created entirely by her—while also on a budget. Andras, a mass communication and English senior, attributes her sense of style to inspiration found on sites like Pinterest, Etsy and Tumblr. MARLIN WILLIFORD/ Photo Editor
  • Mardi Gras beads and an empty wine bottle add easy, affordable sophistication to any room. MELANIE POTTER/Wolf Magazine

College residential hall rooms and small apartments can be the epitome of bland and boring - but they don't have to be. Instead of viewing your space as a jail cell, picture it as a blank canvas. The key to personalizing your space is to make it as comfortable and inviting as possible. An eclectic sense of style and open mind can transform any white-walled, spatially-challenged room into an aesthetically pleasing oasis.

STEP ONE: COLOR

Don't be afraid to throw a splash of color on your curtains, pillows, blankets or even your rug. Just make sure you stick within a color palette. A great website for creative coloring is colourlovers.com. Here you can find unique pairings of shades you'd never think of yourself, like their palette named "orchid." Orchid brings out the individual colors that make up the flower, from the yellows, purples and blues, to create a palette perfect for you.

STEP TWO: FURNITURE

The key to finding good furniture on a budget is patience. This step applies more to apartments, because residence hall rooms usually come with furniture - for better or for worse. Some essentials for an apartment are a kitchen table, a few chairs, a coffee table, nightstand and a dresser. Lucky for you, there are unlimited possibilities when it comes to these necessities. Start with thrift stores like The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is an incredible resource that oftentimes gets overlooked. New Orleans is full of eclectic people, places and things, so thrift-shopping in the city can be a uniquely fun experience.
 Other recommended thrift stores around New Orleans are Habitat ReStore, the Red White and Blue Thrift Stores and the Bridge House. Thrift shopping is a budget-friendly option for the bargain hunter that wants to donate proceeds to a charitable cause. The one caveat for places like Good Will and Salvation Army is that you must be up for a challenge - expect to spend a few hours rummaging through their warehouses to pick out that perfect chair.
If you don't have the patience for thrift shopping, Craigslist is another helpful and more direct resource. Simply type in what you're looking for at neworleans.craigslist.com and search for anything from a dining room set to a bookshelf in a matter of seconds. There is even a free section on Craigslist where people actually give away their stuff. Craigslist is also a good place to find out when yard sales are coming up in your area.

STEP THREE: THRIFT SHOPPING

While some of us cringe at the idea of picking through boxes of used trinkets, it is one of the most interesting places to find that level of kitsch your space needs.
Here's what to look out for at a yard sale: frames, artwork, wooden crates, lamps, costume jewelry and glassware. You're probably wondering what you could possibly do with a wooden crate in your dorm room. With a coat of paint and some gold-stenciled shapes, that old crate just became a stylish place to hold your textbooks or shoes.

STEP FOUR: GET CRAFTY

Glassware of any kind is the start for a festive decoration. Have a few empty wine bottles lying around from last Friday night? Simply remove the label with some soap and water, cut up some strands of Mardi Gras beads and fill the wine bottles to the top with different colored beads. Arrange three beaded bottles on your mantle for a classy, yet festive decoration.
Mardi Gras beads are an incredible - and free - craft supply. At the end of carnival season, when you're pondering what to do with the thousands of beads scattered all over your dorm room floor, remember you can use them to redecorate. All you need to create a carnival piece of art are beads, hot glue and a piece of thick cardboard. Print out a design like a fleur-de-lis, cut around the cardboard in the shape, line the board with hot glue and arrange the beads in a Fleur-de-lis shape. Voila! You now have a beautiful, cost effective decoration to color your bland walls.
The key to making a space your own is comfort, creativity and color. Fill your room with photos of friendly faces, colorful palettes, beaded decor and painted pieces of furniture. Creating a special place will make your house feel like home in no time.

Melanie Potter can be reached at mppotter@loyno.edu
 


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