Okay, so we are all on a budget, well most of us. As a college student and a first time renter, decorating posed a costly challenge for my roommates and me. The three of spent an entire summer (in different states) scavenging countless thrift, charity, and discount stores to decorate our new apartment. After this experience, I have realized you really can make some ordinary into something extraordinary.
The first tip I would give to anyone decorating a home with thrift store finds is to keep an open mind. Remember anything can be painted, decorated, and re-purposed. Just because you buy something that may already have a practical use, does not mean that is what it has to be used for.
Of course if you have a bunch of money to drop, do it. But, if you are like me and millions of other college students out there, just tap into your creativity vat. Everyone has one, right?
So, here are some examples from my own apartment of thrifted furniture that has been dressed up with some TLC, creativity, and an open mind.
1. Dresser turned liquor cabinet.
This is what we did: painted this old dresser, and then brought out the power tools. As you can see, on the second row of shelves, we cut about ¾ of the drawer off. We did this to add extra storage that is visible. We inserted mason jars that we use as cups (oh how I love mason jars!) that are accessible by pulling out the drawer. We left the middle row of drawers as is, for extra storage. I would recommend this to break-up the open shelf look, as well as the luxury of throwing some junk in there that is not visible when closed. At the bottom of this dresser turned cabinet, we stenciled on a scallop shape and cut. This allows us to store wine bottles at the bottom. At the top, we left the drawers on the outer sides as is. Again, this is to break-up the open look. In the middle, we cut the front of the drawer almost to the bottom, for more odds and ends.
So there you have it, a once old, dingy dresser, made into a one of a kind piece that is fully functional (and necessary) in every college apartment.
2. Plate rack turned bathroom shelf.
Welcome to our bathroom. Here is a score I found at Goodwill for just a few bucks. It originally was an old, dark wood plate shelf with dingy looking hooks for teacups. I had some blue paint from a previous project that I painted the wood part with. Next, I bought some cheap knobs and replaced every other original knob with a new one. This is a very functional piece. We hang washcloths and towels on the knobs. As you can see on the top, we placed various size and shaped jars holding bathroom necessities, like hair accessories, cotton balls, Q-tips, and Band-Aids.
This is something you should consider if you do not have a lot of counter space in the bathroom. We have a pretty small bathroom, so having this shelf frees up counter spaces, as well as gives a place to hang our towels.
3.Cabinet revamped into, well, a cabinet.
But not just any cabinet, one with a map! What we did here was paint this old thing (with the same paint from the bathroom shelf). Next, we cut apart a map, which you can find at an office supply store, hardware store, or even a Dollar Store. We then Mod Podged the heck out of it and voila!
What used to be a dark, ugly cabinet, made into a unique little map chest.
The best advice I can give anyone decorating on a budget is, again, have an open mind. Remember to save left over paints and primers from previous projects. This is the easiest way to fix up a thrift store find. Slapping on some new paint can brighten up a piece, make it unique, and hide any blemishes from previous owners.
Also, remember that just because something was made for one function, doesn’t mean that it cannot be re-purposed. So, what are you waiting for? Get out to your favorite discount, thrift, or charity store and find your newest, unique piece of furniture to spruce up your pad.