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Decorating a College Apartment

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This is a sponsored post on behalf of Procter & Gamble. All writing, photos and opinions are that of Our Southern Home.

Decorating a College Apartment on a budget!

Things are still a work in progress, but the college apartment at Clemson University that our 2 kids share with 2 other roommates is coming right along! It's a fabulous situation and cost effective for us with them living together. One of the other roommates has been a friend since they were 9 years old and the other is a friend from college. 

With all the added expenses that come along with college, you want to save where you can when decorating an apartment for them. Fortunately, they were able to use a lot of their dorm decor in their bedrooms. 

I recently went in Big Lots. It has been my go-to location for necessities like laundry supplies. They are a great value! I was going over for a visit and wanted to put together a practical care package for Woods and Ashlyn. 

laundry supplies

One thing that I've learned from my college kids is that they do not want to spend their monthly allocated money on things like laundry supplies. They want to use it for food, going out and the coffee shop! Whether they realize it or not, they want their clothes and home to look their best. 

Clemson is in the heart of football season. The kids go to the games and have a blast. They have even started to have out-of-town friends come and spend the night for the game or just to tailgate. Last weekend, they had overnight guests, but not enough bath towels. The guests went out and bought themselves one and took it back with them. I couldn't have that being from the south and loving to be a cordial hostess. I purchased a cute basket from Big Lots and filled it with a couple of new, plush bath sheets. Y'all these towels are huge, thick and feel so high-end! So they each have an extra guest towel for their individual baths. I also added a supply of laundry items for them. Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent is always my go-to so I added this to the basket. It's America's #1 detergent afterall! It keeps the whites white and colors colorful, wash after wash. 

lady with basket

I Also included Downy UnStoppables In-Wash Scent Booster Beads in their care package. The scent matches the detergent. This is great for up to 12 weeks of freshness. It's fabulous for your everyday laundry, but perfect when washing throws and bedding. Those towels will smell so nice for overnight guests even if they sit a few weeks not being used. 

Also on OSH!  Dorm Decorating Ideas

College students and irons don't mix so I also added a box of Bounce Outdoor Fresh Scented Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets. They reduce wrinkles, stop static and freshen/soften. 

Here are a couple of personal tips in which I use Bounce Dryer Sheets!

  • place one at the bottom of a laundry basket for a fresh smell
  • place in a drawer
  • add one to a gym bag

Of course, while I am in Big Lots picking up the necessities, I can't resist wandering around the store. Their fall decor is out and had also started adding Christmas!

Bentley (the dog) and I took the kids a couple of fall decor items over with their favorite candy corn that I picked up in store. 

care package graphic

mom and daughter

Before we take the big living area tour, let me share with you a couple of tips when decorating a college apartment. 

  • Big Lots has everything to outfit a home or apartment from furniture, to kitchen gadgets, cleaning supplies ,food and more!
  • Shop thrift stores for some decor items.
  • What do you have in your home that you'd be happy to part with for the cause?
  • Resist the urge to complete the look at once.
  • Decorate and add to the apartment as the budget allows. 
  • This isn't your home, it's for your college child. They need to be a part of the process. 
  • Always add a rug in the living area even if there is carpet. You are renting. I'd rather get a drink or food stain on the rug than the carpet!
  • Change out bulbs to LED if lights are too golden and dim. We had to do this in their bedrooms. Way to dim. Save the old bulbs in a closet and change back out when you move.
  • Listen as they mention needing something and start a list. Occasionally ship them those items as a surprise. 

living room with girl and dog

Let me give you a little back story. The couch, coffee table and wall art were from my son's apartment last year he shared with his friend. When Ashlyn decided to transfer to Clemson this year, we ended up getting a 4-bedroom, 4 bath apartment for them to share with 2 other roommates. It was our goal to add a few girlier items that would also work for the guys. Yes, Ashlyn has 3 male roommates that are like brothers to her (1 is!!). The guys love it because it's like they have “live in” housekeeper. Ha, ha! Her bedroom and bath is at the front of the apartment to give her privacy, then there is the living area with the remaining 3 bedrooms at the back of the unit. She's a bit of a neat freak so she keeps the living and kitchen areas spotless. She could care less with what the guys do with the back of the unit. She even told me that when they leave things out, she piles it outside their bedroom doors. Ha, ha!!! I used to do that when they were at home. 

Also on OSH!  Decorating Challenge {Month 3}

family room

Last summer, Woods and his roommate went in together and purchased this sectional at Big Lots. I am a big thrift store shopper, but I didn't want a thrift store couch and anything that might come in with it. LOL! Big Lots is an excellent source for affordable furniture. This has been the best sectional couch. It is still offered at Big Lots. It even has a storage ottoman that they'd really like to have down the road. We went with a darker color. It's a grayish navy. The darker doesn't show potential stains. It's very comfortable and allows for ample seating when they all get together to tailgate at home to watch the away games and professional games. 

family room

The coffee table was a thrift store find. I Spray painted the legs black and restained the top. Not bad for a $10 coffee table. The table is a great size to eat on and also can easily be moved out of the way to play video games. The tray was also a thrift store makeover. 

Ashlyn and I did some apartment shopping at Big Lots in August. Look at that fabulous rug! Last year they were using an oriental rug from our upstairs living area. I wanted to bring it back to use in a bedroom makeover, so I bought this rug for them at Big Lots. Ashlyn came across it. She really has a flair for decorating and loves it. As I mentioned in my above tips, always try to add a rug in a college apartment in the living area even if it has carpet. Food and drink spills are going to happen. I'd rather a bad stain fall on the rug than the rental carpet! With the dark couch, this geometric pattern with so much light space to it really brightens the space and adds pattern. 

fall decor

I purchased them the gold wheat and neutral pumpkin. It's not overdone. It's not a lot to store and helps make the living area feel homier for the fall season. Big Lots has a great fall decor section

fall decor

I adore both of these pieces! I'd kind of want to go back and get them for me!

Also on OSH!  Simple Touches Fall Home Tour

tray with decor

The tray and coasters they already had. 


When we saw the pillows, we knew they were coming home with us! We grabbed them and took them over to the sectional that we have that was on the floor. They have so much to select from at our store and they are very helpful.  They matched perfectly and have Clemson colors! Now I could have added several more pillows, but Ashlyn had to reign me in. She was like the guys will never fix them right so less will be easier for me to keep up with. She was so right. The sectional does come with 3 large pillows. We've placed those in the room to be used as floor pillows. 


I am so in love with this pillow. It's a regular stock item, but so pretty for fall. 

living room

You can see a few of the kitchen items that we picked up in the background. The blue utensil holder helps coordinate the 2 spaces. They didn't have end table last year. I purchased these in the Big Lots outdoor furniture area this summer and used them on our screened porch. They are perfect for this space. We added one to each end of the couch. 


We simply added the candy corn to a thrift store juice class because what college kid has a candy dish!


Big Lots has a wonderful selection of seasonal decor and candles to get things smelling like fall. 

family room

They are set for tailgating at home for football season! We still need to add a bit of wall decor and get a larger vacuum, but that will come gradually over time. 

outdoor furniture

They even have a small balcony off the living area. I gave them our 4 plastic adirondack chairs and a small outdoor rug. We picked the 4 outdoor pillows and 2 outdoor tables out at Big Lots this summer. 


It's such a cozy space for them. 

living room

They will be here for at least 2 years. It's nice knowing that we won't be moving them this summer! I love that they are feeling at home and enjoying the new apartment. 


If you haven't already, head to your local Big Lots to see all that they have to offer. They have truly been my go-to place for my laundry supplies like Tide, Downy and Bounce!

Other posts from Big Lots!

Summer Screened Porch

Farmhouse Bedroom Refresh








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