Home renters better think twice if they thought finding a house would be the hardest part of moving off campus. Furnishing a home is integral to the move-in process, but budgeting to decorate a house requires as much practicality as it does creativity.
“It all started with a spreadsheet,” Destiny French, a third-year in social work, said.
French, a tenant of an off-campus house, furnished her eight-bedroom home by planning decorations ahead of time with housemate Maria Neville, a third-year in marketing.
“We started before we even found the house,” Neville said. “We wanted the house to look amazing, but we don’t have any money.”
French and Neville sought to furnish the house with crafted decorations and items bought on a budget.
“We went to Home Depot to try to come up with a color scheme we wanted,” Neville said. “We got a copy for everyone, so if they wanted to buy something for the house, it would match the color scheme.”
Neville noted the importance of establishing a color scheme for the basis of furnishing.
“It’s hard to pick between wine versus maroon versus crimson,” Neville said.
In pursuit of finding ideas for decor, French and Neville resorted to social media platforms such as Pinterest for inspiration.
“Half of it was creative brainstorming and half of it was looking online for inspiration,” French noted. “We started a Pinterest board, which you can share with your friends.”
As an avid Pinterest user, Neville noted the app does not always have economically friendly options.
“Some things need to be tweaked to be cheaper,” Neville said. “Like things that involve pom-poms. Little pom-poms are expensive so we bought fake feathers instead.”
Getting an early start to decorating a house is important, but it might be difficult to visualize where everything will go. Thanks to the mobile application Houzz, French and Neville were able to virtually design their interior on their phones.
“You can upload a photo of the room or get a sample room and you can shop for things,” Neville said. “You can also upload pictures of a product you have and crop it.”
After identifying what home decor looks they were going for, French and Neville began their hunt for bargains. The pair named Goodwill, Five Below and Ollie’s as their favorite thrift stores, and Michael’s and Joann’s as their favorite craft stores, but only if you use coupons.
“They both have really good coupons,” French said. “You have to be practical and there are so many more things you’re paying for in college.”
The duo from Solon, Ohio, attributed many of their thrifted decorations to garage sales.
“Summer is good for garage sales, so we would raid the garage sales,” Neville said. “We would go to the fancy neighborhoods and you can bargain at the garage sales, but I never really did, but sometimes people just give stuff away for free.”
They also noted the importance of the housemates’ group effort in asking around for the larger pieces of furniture.
“Each girl asked their family and went around to see if any friends had extra furniture to have a lot of starting material,” French said.
One crafted furniture item is the maroon papasan, originally an “unfurnished piece of thing,” French said, that she designed by “tying old sheets” she was no longer using and “now it’s adorable,” polished off with thrifted and bargained pillows.
Neville noted their most important tool in crafting decor was spray paint.
“We spray-painted everything we possibly could,” Neville said. “The gold [paint] especially. It just changes everything. Nothing is not spray-painted.”
Overall, the pair estimated they saved “about $800,” according to Neville. However, the team had to overcome the difficulty of establishing a warm environment while making the house college-proof.
“The truth is, things do get destroyed, so [decor] is really not worth spending a ton of money on,” French said. “But then at the same time, you really want your house to look cute because this is the place you’re going to live in.”
The team noted their excitement about keeping their house for the 2019-20 academic year.
“Some people don’t like their homes because they are not cozy. We love coming home,” French said. “It’s, like, our favorite thing to do.”