How To Furnish A College House on a College Budget

If you have a kid in college or you are living in a college house, you have an idea of how this new life adventure is going to be. Most of us will be spending an enormous amount of money on education, so we should try saving on things like furnishing your college house (or dorm) and other little things that add up in the long run. If you or your kid will be living on campus, you won’t have to worry about the additional furnishing expenditures, yet you will be spending some money on decoration.

Things get a little trickier when you opt to live off campus in an apartment or house. You better be ready to incur additional expenses that are not lumped into your student loan amount. Most of the college houses near the school will provide a rental agreement lasting for nine months or more of the academic year.

Regardless of the duration of your lease, you’ll most likely need to purchase furniture for the house. Since college students have a bad reputation for not taking care of their things, landlords usually don’t want to leave any furniture in the house. Simple things from bed, mattress, and silverware to reading tables and chairs will be required.

While you want to live in a home that is comfortable, practical, and cozy, chances are that you don’t have that much money to spend. In addition to that, this is the first time you’re going to decorate anything in your life. Needless to say, most of us have no clue what we’re doing. With this guide, we hope to help you along the way. Here are the most important steps:

1. Determine what you need by making a list

Money can be tight during college times; hence you must be creative and smart to furnish your house in the cheapest way possible. Start with the items you absolutely require for your room. Your college administration will likely have an orientation package that clearly lists what is needed. In college dorms, for example, every student needs bedding items like blankets, sheets, mattress protectors and pillows. Ask around during the orientation period to know whether the college offers some of the items.

In the case of apartments and other rentals, you generally have to bring in a variety of things such as a bed, couches, dressers, kitchenware, and a TV set to bathroom items. Remember to ask if there is any furniture in the college house as sometimes the room can have some furniture left by the last tenant.

Make a list of typical items needed in order of importance while taking into account the size of your house. Besides, you want to consider the amount of time you will live there: an individual spending a single semester in a special program will probably need less than someone who spends the 4 years in the same house. Keep in mind that less brought in, the more comfortable and quick to pack when moving out. If you live in a college house, you will likely be moving out all your things in the near future. Too many things can become a problem when you need to move to a new place. Students move frequently, so you should have light household items.

2. Flooring

When you live in an apartment that is rented every semester by different students, there is a chance that you will find a few marks and flaws on the floor. Don’t waste time, energy or money in an attempt to get rid of the dirt with expensive cleaning agents. The best and easiest way to beat a stained floor is to spread a carpet or a rug on top of it. These come in different sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns that will fit both your color scheme and personal lifestyle.

3. Furnishing

There are various multifunctional pieces of furniture that are perfect for college students, like futons. Futons can serve both as a sofa and as a bed. It offers a great sitting place at daytime, and it can quickly be turned into a bed at night for that best friend that never makes it home after parties. Ottomans are another helpful piece in furnishing a college house. They can be used as a place to sit, to relax and also to store all kinds of small household items. Nobody needs to know that your favorite footstool contains textbooks, magazines or other stuff that you don’t want to dispose of.

You can get furniture from nearby stores or order them online depending on your budget. If you are on a budget, get your furniture from nearby recycling centers, thrift stores, dollar stores, yard sales, and college surplus stores where you can get second-hand ones but in good working condition.

The key here is to ensure every furniture you buy serves its purpose and that it fits within your budget.

4. Walls

You can cover the naked spaces of your walls with photography of your choice. Besides, you can save some money by being creative and creating your own art to display on the walls. You can create a collage of your favorite photos using family and friends pictures. Purchase a paint tube and cheap canvas from your local handicraft store and create a one-of-a-kind picture or painting.

If you think creating your own art will hassle you, hang several wall shelves and decorate them with personal items and small trinkets instead of attaching a picture or frame. Glowing lights and string lights can also increase interest in wall decor. For studying, consider buying a lamp which provides enough light.

5. Look elegant with a multi-level shelf

Nothing is as urgent as a bookshelf in a college house. In your college room, choose a corner shelf and display your vinyl records or favorite books to give your place a refined atmosphere. Remember that bookshelves are not just for viewing books. Combine the display by placing books, picture frames, and decorative elements to create interest and depth in your decor.

In your bedroom, a bigger bookshelf can offer many useful options for storing items other than reading materials. A 3 or 4-tier bookshelf can accommodate folded clothes, hats, shoes, and handbags, and they are usually pretty cheap.

6. Kitchen

College students don’t need much kitchenware. Knives, cups, measuring spoons, cutting boards, a microwave, a few pots and pans and utensils like rubber scrapers, wooden spoons, and soup ladle make a complete college kitchen. Other essential kitchenware is dishware, cleaning supplies, a functioning sink, and a small shelf to store the items.

7. Bathroom

The bathroom needs to have bright lighting like recessed lighting to maximize the available spaces and a well-positioned mirror. Moreover, most college houses have fully equipped bathrooms.


If you want to furnish your college house on a budget creatively, and with a bit DIY skills, then follow these tips. This is going to be your first experience furnishing and decorating a home, so it can be overwhelming. You’ll learn along the way, and it will eventually feel good to live in a place you created by yourself.

Gui Hadlich

Hi there! I'm Gui. I've had to move 12 times in the last 6 years, and I've learned a thing or two about moving, decorating, and buying and selling furniture. I've started Budget Friendly Furnishing with the intent of helping people furnish their homes in style without having to break the bank!

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