Post-College Decorating: You Can Do It!

That motley collection of bare-wood Ikea furniture and hand-me-downs is functional, and it got you through your college years, but maybe you’re looking for a more pulled-together adult-looking home. And you don’t have $10,000 to do it. I’m in the process of going through my post-college makeover, so I’ve got a few tips you can use too.

– Bare wood Ikea furniture. Face it, we all have some of it. I suggest a coat of semi-gloss paint in a neutral color to unify it– white, cream, black, brown. You can also stain it in any number of colors. A simple coat of paint will make it look like it doesn’t belong out in the garage.

– Hand-me-down sofas, loveseats and chairs. Whether you got it from your parents, the thrift store or your last room mate, there’s still hope– it’s called the slip cover. These aren’t cheap either– $60-$100 a piece. But you can knock that price down by watching for sales and using coupons– Bed Bath & Beyond and Linens N Things have 20% off coupons on a pretty regular basis. And don’t forget discount stores like Big Lots. And plus, $60 is still a lot more affordable than a new $1000 sofa. If the seat cushions are a bit saggy, cut a plywood sheet to fit underneath to give it a little more structure– it’s not a permanent fix, but it will get a little more mileage out of it.

– Artwork. You’ve got to have stuff on your walls! My favorite source of cheap artwork is speciality wrapping paper. You can find all sorts of prints– maps, botanicals, retro toys, animals and other prints. And you can get a single sheet for less than $5.00! Pair it will a basic poster frame from Ikea and you’ve got a beautiful framed print for under $20! That’s not bad. Some of my favorite sources for decorative papers are Paper Studio, Paper Source, Flax Art & Design, Stampington & Company, and The Map Store.


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