8 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Apartment Feel Like Home

For the past five years I have jumped from living at home, to a dorm room, campus apartments, and eventually my own apartment in the city. It would honestly take me a few minutes to recall all the places I've called home, with my constant moving caused by traveling throughout college. Even though no place feels like a permanent environment for me, I strive to make my living situation feel like home as much as possible. It's a bit difficult though when you have cinder block walls and pages of rules outlining all the ways you don't have a right to customize your space.

The majority of the readers here are women aged 18-24, meaning you are either reading this in your bland dorm room or rental apartment. If you've managed to buy a place at 24, can we please be friends so you can share all your secrets with me? Up until last year I always strived to decorate my place, but moving across the country upped the need for my house to feel like a home.

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Now living in my own apartment, there's nothing quite as comforting as stepping through the door every night and feeling like the place is mine. It smells like me, matches my personality, and is scattered with objects that make it feel like home even though I'm 3,000 miles away from everything and everyone I know and care about.

For those of us who desperately need our security deposit back, here are a few ways to make your space feel less like a rental and more of a home.

Invest in a rug.

Yes, rugs are expensive. Why? I have no freaking clue! But be like me and buy a rug online, on sale, with a coupon code. My favorite website to buy a rug is Wayfair, especially because the big stuff ships for free, but Target is another great option when they're having a sale. Investing in a good rug not only adds color to your space, but comfort for those of us who have hardwood floors.

Buy some art, then hang it!

It can't just be me who has the laziest reputation when it comes to hanging the art I buy or make. While I know many places are against putting nails into the walls, with things like Command hooks you have no excuse to not hang all your frames. Mounting a few pieces on the wall will instantly bring some life to the walls and is an inexpensive way to decorate.

Bring some fresh life into the space.

Every girl needs to have a plant in her apartment. Or ten. Whatever your preference is. If you are worried you won't be able to keep it alive, I suggest buying a succulent or cactus. Those things can survive anything. Otherwise big leafy plants really brighten up a small space and look great against bland white walls.

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Pack a piece of home.

My hometown is where most of American's strawberries come from, which is why I can't look at a strawberry without thinking about where I grew up. Apart from that, it's tucked between the beach and redwood covered mountains. Having something in your space that reminds you of home is a nice reminder without taking over the space. Hang a canvas of your home state or display your home team's colors in some way.

Fill your cabinets.

I know, very random, but what's the one thing you always find when you visit home? Cabinets full of food! How our parents manage to never run out of groceries I will never understand, but having your favorite snack when you're feeling down is such an easy way to lift your spirits. To go the extra step, buy something grown or produced locally, like strawberries in my case.

Invite your furry roommate.

If you can bring a pet with you, do it! Two months after I moved to Washington DC I adopted my cat Max, and it was the best decision I've ever made. Having someone to come home to is the best feeling, especially after a long day when the idea of human interactions is just too much to handle.

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Display your photographs. 

For a generation that feels the need to photograph everything from the food we eat to the junk we carry around in our purse, we don't proudly display our photos as much as we post them. Choose a few of your favorite photographs and have them actually printed. Displaying photos is an inexpensive way to put something up on your wall or decorate countertops.

Toss all reminders of your move. 

Who here is guilty of unpacking then leaving the boxes sitting around for weeks? (Raises hand high.) Save yourself the pain of tripping over the junk and of having to look at it constantly by tossing out all your moving supplies! Your home won't feel like home until you get rid of all the things that make it looked like you just arrived. Let's pledge to stop being lazy and toss the things we just don't need.

How do you make your space for less temporary and more like home? What do you struggle most with personalizing in your dorm or apartment?


  1. Love this post! I've been living in the same apartment for a little over a year now while I finish up college and I'm constantly finding ways to make it feel more home-y and less like a place. I recently put up a gallery wall above my bed and it already feels 100% more like my home! Thanks for sharing your tips, I'm definitely going to invest in a rug, next!

    XO, Rachel

    1. I have been meaning to put up a gallery for months, but every weekend something comes up! I think I've decided to finally build one around my tv because that wall is so boring to look at.

  2. Such a great post! I've been thinking about buying a plant for my room but I'm afraid it'll just die cause I'm not very good at taking care of plants hehe. Definitely going to put these in mind when I get an apartment!

    Anna | Anna Czarina Blog

    1. Buy a succulent! I literally had one fall on the ground, it sat there for weeks and it didn't die!

  3. I am so guilty of not really making my apartments a "home." I've finally hung a few photos in my current apartment but my mom gave me a few more and I know that I'll probably be moving in July and still haven't hung them. Whooooooooooops. Maybe after this move.

    1. I'm getting to the point in my lease where if I don't hang my gallery wall within a month it won't even be worth patching up the holes later. This weekend it's gonna happen though! *hopefully*

  4. I agree with everything you said. As for the art, my granddaughter is 4 and loves to draw, paint, color. She has created many abstract pieces for my walls -- a cheap frame and viola I have art from the heart.

    1. I seriously love children's drawings when they're framed. Not every one is a masterpiece but there's some that look so great once put up on the wall.

  5. I have carpet in my apartment, but I put a small, cheap rug over the carpet and it adds an extra dimension! I spent $50 for wall art at Ross and it definitely made my apartment more homey! I really want to print some canvas photos for the walls, but I'm waiting for the $$/perfect moment. :)

    1. Shutterfly is always having amazing sales on canvas custom prints! Next time I get a free $20 coupon code from them I'll send it to you!

  6. Great post! I love the tips about plants, photos & a rug. :)
    Sally x