Survival in the Garret II – 10 Decor Tips for the Frugal Student’s Crib

A while ago we brought you some tips on how to live on a shoestring during your student years. These tips come compliments of the art world, where (at least in theory), passion for one’s work supersedes avarice—a circumstance compelling artists to pinch pennies like there won’t be any more next week, which is often the case.

While we brought you a couple of decorating tips in the previous list, this time we choose to focus on creating the right kind of interior ambience for next to nothing. Why? Because making your dorm room, apartment, trailer, or parents’ basement more attractive will entice you to spend more time there, hopefully up to your eyeballs in research and moments of academic epiphany.

Several of these tips can be carried forward into your successful career as an astronaut, neurosurgeon, or pizza deliverer, standing you in good stead in both feast and famine.

1. Encourage the sharing of wealth
Persuade your affluent friends to be less materialistic, and then hang around a lot when they start wanting to unburden themselves of their stuff.

2. Overgrown sprouts
Remember the bean sprout habit from the last article? Well, occasionally you’re going to forget to harvest those sprouts, and you’ll come home to small trees growing in your sprouter. Don’t chide yourself, because it’s at this point that they become houseplants!

You don’t even need dirt for this—just place the plants, roots and all, in old wine bottles or thrift store vases filled with water, and watch them grow, providing your room with a natural elegance. Later on you can either replace them or plant them in dirt.

Mung bean sprouts make a really nice plant, and when the zombie apocalypse comes, you might even be able to harvest a few beans to sustain you during the lockdown.

3. Fairy lights
Drape cheap miniature Christmas lights over a curtain rod, around a bookshelf, under a glass tabletop, or on the wall close to the dining table for that twinkly dusk atmosphere. If you celebrate Christmas, you won’t have to go digging around for lights for the tree—just pull them off the wall. You can easily return them to the wall after the tree dries up.

4. The sidewalk
If you live in an urban area find out which evenings people put their unwanted home furnishings out on the sidewalk. You’ll be amazed at what you can find there. Be sure to wear running shoes in case you’ve mistakenly made off with the belongings of someone in the middle of a move.

5. Books
If you have lots of books, stack them up in creative, decorative ways—as lampstands, for example—wherever you need a space to look intellectual. Library and thrift stores are great places to find more. Supplement your own books with huge luxurious library tomes on art, architecture, and photography, placing them in prominent places. Plastic covers are a dead giveaway, so avoid books with those if you want visitors to think you spend a fortune on books.

6. Stuff and Hide
Use fancy second-hand cushion covers and pillowcases to store your off-season clothes and bed linens. Reduces clutter and the cushions look nice piled up on the floor. And a down jacket makes a divinely comfortable pillow.

7. Thrift it
If you buy nothing else at thrift stores, buy knickknacks, plant pots, crockery, art, and candles, all of which are amazingly cheap—even the good stuff. Make up stories about the history of each item and wow your friends.

8. Scarf drapes
Use summer scarves for artsy drapes. You can go true-blue gypsy by mixing up colours and sizes, or you can find a sale on a bunch of the same scarf. They’re pretty, blow around nicely in the breeze, and are light enough to suspend from two cup hooks and a fish line.

9. Arrange
Take five minutes and go around arranging things artistically on all your surfaces. This alone grants a classy look to any space.

10. Jewellery
Old necklaces you like but don’t necessarily want to wear can be draped over lampshades, hung from a wall, or wrapped around a vase. Old bracelets can be used as tiebacks on your scarf drapes.

Finally, remember that a nice living space will help you relax and enjoy life, becoming your haven among life’s hassles. Best of all, it will give your pad that bohemian ambience you’ll fondly remember in your later corporate years.

Wanda also writes the blog The Mindful Bard:The Care and Feeding of the Creative Self.

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