Monday, September 16, 2013

College-Budget Apartment Decorating

This was originally going to be a post about the difficulties of apartment hunting in Berkeley and San Francisco, but I decided you're all mostly good people and don't deserve to read something that boring or depressing. So I'll gladly skip ahead to the Happily Ever After - I found a new apartment in Berkeley without selling a vital organ for the deposit!

When I say "I found a new apartment," I mean myself and two friends who are a blast to live with. We decided on Berkeley because they both go to UC Berkeley and I can commute from here to San Francisco somewhat easily.  Bonus Points: I've already run into Nathan Adrian at the Cal campus gym and we're within walking distance to all the best pizza places.

Moving to a new apartment right after you've gotten rid of your trusty old furniture can be a real pain, but it doesn't have to be. Here's how I decorated a pinterest-worthy bedroom on a college budget.

DIY Headboard
Headboard & pink pillowcases: DIY (see below). Chevron pillows: Joss & Main. Gold Hustlin' pillow: Michelle Dwight Designs.

Painting: Pier 1 on clearance! Lamp & desk: Walmart (gold chevron DIY, see below). Creme print: Waiting on Martha.

1. Plan your DIYs. Don't overwhelm yourself with 100 projects unless you're taking performance enhancing drugs. I knew I wanted a colorful bookcase and a spruced-up desk, so I made those my priority before planning any other side projects.

2. Buy your wine. We all know this is important. Crafting is a marathon and wine is our Gatorade.

3. Have a vision for the whole room. Find something that gives you some sort of inspiration! My color palette came from a Pier 1 painting and the fact that my Pinterest board was covered in crisp white rooms.

My projects!

DIY Gold Chevron Desk
I ordered this desk from Walmart for $40 with free shipping! All I needed to make it pretty was some gold metallic spray paint, blue painters tape, and a ruler. Here is where I break the news to you that I had to take geometry twice in high school and cannot explain to you how I made the chevron design. Luckily you can find a good tutorial here!

DIY Pink Bookcase
Again, Walmart saves the budget with this bookcase here for $31.Grab paint in whatever color you're into and just go to town on the back panel. You could also try painting the shelves or the inner sides. Get real Van Gogh wid' it.

DIY Headboard
This one was intimidating since I don't exactly whip out my staple gun on the reg. I followed this tutorial and made my own adjustments as I went. I have three main tips for this project:
1. Stockpile your coupons because the green upholstery foam is pricey. This project turned out being about $90, which was more expensive than I had hoped but still cheaper than buying from a store.
2. Try to avoid patterned fabric if you don't want the stress of keeping it perfectly straight while you staple.
3. Buy a spool of upholstery nail trim if you want nailheads. I found them at Joanns and they look like this

DIY Over-bed Desk
This was a total last minute idea. Ikea sells an awesome console table that can roll over your bed with your legs under it, and reason be damned, I was determined to have one. But seriously, $150 for three skinny pieces of wood on some wheels? Off to Home Depot we go. This cost about $30 to make out of two 6-foot plank, four casters, glitter, and paint. The 6-foot plank was just enough for a full bed, so get two for a queen. My table measures 60" long x 30" tall without casters. Home Depot will cut the wood for free, so don't worry if you don't have a saw!

If you're wondering if that's gold glitter along the edge, the answer is YES.

Here are details for a few items I get asked about that weren't DIYs!

Gnome, @ symbol, and Creme print from Gold Hustlin' pillow from Michelle Dwight Designs!


  1. I love your headboard! Super cute. How exactly did the nailheads work though? Did they go all the way through the foam alright?

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! The nailhead trim was great because you're only actually hammering a nail every 5 spaces. They went all the way through the foam and into the wood after two taps with a rubber mallet. Have a helper hold the trim down so it stays straight as you hammer!

  2. Very nice, thanks

  3. You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.
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  4. Wow! Your room is beautiful! I write a blog for college students, so I might have to share a link to this post.

    I love the bed desk, especially the glitter. :)

    1. Thank you! The glitter was too hard to resist :)

      Feel free to link it, I love your blog!

  5. I love what you did with your place! I particularly liked the bed desk... very clever! Thumbs up!
    Patrick Tan

  6. I'm wondering how you made the over the bed desk? Did you just put a screw through the top piece of wood into the legs? If so how did you deal with the holes in the top? I love this idea but want to do it right. 8)

  7. LOVE the headboard! How did you attach it? Did it have legs? Or did you just hang it up?

  8. Where did you get your bedding from?

  9. Really cute. How much was the painting as we find "artwork" the biggest budget buster.

  10. Your blog is amazing! So neat and colorful!

  11. Wow, cool post. I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real hard work to make a great article… but I put things off too much and never seem to get started.
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  12. Great idea! Sleep plays an important role for your health that is why it is necessary that your bedroom is built for sleep. Read and try this 4 Affordable Bedroom Fixtures That Will Improve Design And Sleep