Adventures In College Housing

Living in a crummy college house or apartment is one of those things that parents love to call a “character builder.” If character is built by paying way too much to live in a dump that is falling apart, then that is a description I can get behind. I made the move from an apartment to a house chock-full of character and the process of home improvement has proved to be equal parts frustrating and rewarding. While I am by no means an expert, I am the daughter of a carpenter/world’s handiest dad and am an aspiring HGTV star. Here are some things I’ve learned about how to make college living slightly more homey:

A little bit of paint can go a long way...

Everyone knows the age-old expression… when life (landlord) hands you lemons (random navy blue accent wall), buy a can of paint called “Falling Star” and go to town. The first thing we did when moving into our house was field trip to Menards and stock up on painting supplies. Not only did this serve as a productive house beautification activity, but also a roommate compatibility exercise. Regardless, that fresh coat of Falling Star did wonders for breathing life into that old house, and made it truly feel like our own.

Painting tips here and here.

Fill all the walls!

Tapestries and American flags are neat and all, but there are so many other fun options for filling up empty wall space. Cross stitches, framed puzzles, or finger paintings can express personality and undoubtedly be a conversation piece. OR if more traditional art is more your speed check out these neat (and free/cheap) options:

Weisman Art Museum Art Rental Program: only $15/piece for students !!!!

Minneapolis Art Lending Library: FREE !!!

And whatever you choose to hang, for the love of all things good please learn from my mistakes and (properly) LEARN HOW TO FIND STUDS.

Take your time

No matter how many Pinterest and mood boards you curate with you perfect home decor, bringing a room/house together is not something that can be done quickly. The best way to be sure your house feels like your own is to let it naturally work itself out. Give yourself a month or two to settle in and see what you need. After you’ve developed habits in the space, you’ll figure out where the best place would be for an extra shelf or a little more storage.

If/when you decide to take on projects, remember that anything worth doing is worth doing right. As terrible as that navy blue wall was, it would have been even worse with a sub-par coat of paint. The prep work of a project is the most time consuming aspect of the D.I.Y. lifestyle, but it makes all the difference in the world. It is worthwhile to clean and prepare surfaces before painting, measure everything twice, and be sure to have the correct tools*. Doing this will only save you time in the long run, and save you from having to redo all your hard work!

Taking on home improvement can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task, but in my experience it is one that is definitely worth it. Even if you only live there for a school year, it is advantageous to put the time into customizing your space. Having a place that feels like your own to come back to everyday does wonders for fostering creativity and productivity in every aspect of your life.

*Bonus points for home improvement if you make friends with your local hardware store. (Oaks Hardware on Como has the world’s cutest dog they let you pet :)



Scott MeyerComment