Decorating A Budget-Friendly Student Apartment Room

All of my clothing has been put away, boxes have been emptied, and books shelved, so now I am finally moved into my new apartment in Toronto. While it's always a bit of a pain to pack up everything and move it to a new place, it's also pretty exciting! 

At my old place I painted my walls a gorgeous greyish purple, but I didn't switch up the furniture placement in my room for the two years I lived there. Since my new room is smaller, and shaped differently, I decided now would be a perfect time to try out a different arrangement that still allowed me some floor space in the centre. 

Also, the walls in my new room are white, which is the same as most of my furniture. While it allows my room to be brighter, since it reflects the light from my windows and lamps, I also wanted to make sure the white was balanced with the dark flooring and some dark furniture. 

Clothing Rack Display | Tall Girl Meets World

Clothing Hanging Rack Display

Before I moved in, I knew I'd have to pick up an extra piece of furniture to store my clothes since I don't have a closet in my current room. I've always wanted to have my favourite clothing pieces on display in my room, so this was my perfect opportunity to do this! 

Surprisingly, I was able to put this IKEA rack up in about 15 minutes by myself, and it cost me less than $20! If you don't have a closet in your room, I would definitely suggest using a clothing rack. You can also store items on the bottom rack, which you can see in the picture above. 

Since I wear a lot of black and white, it was easy to pick out a general colour theme for my clothing rack. I recommend keeping pieces on display along the same colour theme, as it will make your room look more put together and coordinated. I wanted the colours to move from dark to light as your eyes move from left to right, but I also wanted statement pieces on the ends, so I started with my favourite blanket scarf, and ended with a striped sweater and floppy hat. The bottom rack is perfect for my school purse, fall boots, and my storage box which holds all of my nail care items. 

Wardrobe | Tall Girl Meets World

Wardrobe Corner

As soon as I saw the room, I knew I wanted to have my wardrobe in the corner on an angle. I thought it would be ideal to keep as many of my clothes together in one section as possible, so it would be easier to get ready in the morning. Since my wardrobe was on an angle, I was able to put my hamper right next to it, and store my yoga mat just behind it. 

Two years ago, I picked this wardrobe up at IKEA as well (where majority of my budget-friendly room came from - I love it there). I had a small closet in my old room, so I figured I could use the extra storage, and I'm really happy I picked it up, as I definitely needed it this year.

I found the best way to utilize the space in my wardrobe was to have the hanging storage pieces that you can also pick up at IKEA, where I store all of my tops, sweaters, skirts, dresses, and athletic wear. Beside the two hanging storage pieces, I've hung my jeans and belts, and I put my winter gear (mitts and hats) on the top shelf inside, along with my purple damask storage box filled with extra beauty care items. 

By having a wardrobe, I'm able to keep the rest of my clothing hidden, while also remaining organized. 

Shoe Rack | Tall Girl Meets World

Shoe Rack

I was fortunate enough to grab this rack from my old apartment for free. It had been left behind by the old apartment owners, and we had been using it by the front door for all of our shoes. When it came time to leave our old place, no one had space for this rack, so I snatched it up for my extensive shoe collection. 

It's placed right beside the door, so I can grab a pair of shoes on my way out in the morning, and I also put it right beside my clothing rack so I can pair up my shoes to my outfit without much effort. 

If your family or friends have an extra shoe rack laying around, ask them if you can bring it with you to school, so you can keep most of your shoes in your room, rather than crowding the front of your apartment. Otherwise, you can pick one of these up for pretty cheap at any hardware or home store. They allow you to display your favourite and most frequently worn shoes. I put my dressier shoes up top, followed by my sneaker collection at the bottom. 

Makeup Vanity | Tall Girl Meets World

Makeup Vanity

To contrast the white furniture in my room, I added a few dark pieces as well. To the left of my wardrobe, I put my makeup vanity. The window in my room is in a perfect place, as it's in the middle of the wall, so I can do my makeup in the natural light coming through the window.

I'm lucky to have an extremely talented dad, who built this gorgeous dark wood vanity for me. Score! It has a long pull-out drawer where I store all of my makeup, perfumes, and hair items. While the stool isn't a perfect match to my room, it was laying around my house, so I figured I would put it to good use, rather than spending more money on another one. 

I've put a couple items on the top of my makeup vanity, so it doesn't appear too bare. A mirror is pretty essential for a makeup vanity, so I picked this one up at none other than IKEA and a pink vase my aunt gifted me a few years ago. 

A makeup vanity can be really useful in a student apartment, as there are usually multiple people using one bathroom. If you don't want to have to worry about having your makeup locked away in the bathroom, or not having a mirror to do your makeup in front of, a vanity is a perfect solution. You can get someone to make you one or pick one up for a good price, and you can pick a smaller or larger one depending on the size of your room.

Bookshelf & Dresser | Tall Girl Meets World

Mirror, Bookshelf & Dresser

Eventually the mirror will be hung up, but I can't find my hanging tabs, so for now it's going to lean back against the wall. It's handy to have a full-length mirror around so you can make sure that you're looking good and put together before heading out of the apartment. 

Beside it, I've placed my bookshelf. Initially, I put this bookshelf along the front wall where my shoe rack was, but then I realized I had enough space for it beside my dresser, so I shifted it over. Like my makeup vanity, this bookshelf was handcrafted by my dad as well. I told him I wanted a simple white bookshelf for my books, magazines & DVDs, so he made this perfect little addition to my room. On the top, I've set a frame with photos and a mini Eiffel Tower, both gifted to me by my former roommate and one of my best friends, and a couple other items that worked with the theme. 

To the right of my bookshelf, I have my dresser which is filled everything that doesn't fit into my wardrobe, and has my PJs handy, since my bed is right beside it. This dresser was re-finished by my dad from it's former glory to a nice dark brown. If you have an old dresser around, you can DIY by painting or staining it (or have a family member or friend do this), saving you the cash of buying a new one. 

I always have a couple books set on my dresser for a night read, along with a lamp to keep things bright in my room. My dresser is also used as my go-to charging station for my iPod and cell-phone. 

Patterned Bed | Tall Girl Meets World


So this one's an obvious necessity. My parents surprised me with a new bed complete with IKEA bedding and an adorable Paris pillow a few years back. Since I spent most of my time at school rather than at home, I brought my bed to school, and my parents picked up a small single bed to replace my home one. I suggest having a comfy bed at school because you'll want a good night's rest after long days of studying. I love the pinks and purples in this bedding, as it adds a nice, bright vibe to my room. 

One thing I recommend getting is storage containers for underneath your bed. It is extremely helpful, as I use it for storing everything from (more) shoes to winter clothing and extra bedding. I chose underbed storage in neutral tones (white and black), so that it matches the rest of my room and doesn't clash. I am in love with any damask pattern, so I thought this shoe storage bag was a perfect addition for my room! I also picked up the large white storage box from IKEA for less than $10, so you can keep your items stored away for super cheap! 

Corner Desk | Tall Girl Meets World

Corner Desk & Coffee Station

I actually scored really big on this desk! I saw this desk posted on the IKEA website and fell in love with it. It has a lot of area for storage, is a great size for working on, and I like the corner-style desk, as it reminds me of a study cubicle, and I'm able to focus better in this style of desk.

Before picking it up at IKEA, I decided to scour around on classified ads to see if there were any desks up for cheaper. I ended up coming across the exact same desk on Kijiji (classified ad website) for only around $35, and it even came with an office chair as well! I definitely got lucky with this find, and it's been around my room for the past few years, making the move with me to Toronto. 

Beside my desk I ALWAYS have my Keurig coffeemaker. Caffeine is an essential part of my life as a student, and having this beside my desk allows me to make a coffee when I'm working away early in the morning, and for late night study sessions as well. I put it on one of those TV trays that I picked up for about $10, and the dark wood matches my desk so nicely! 

Tips for Decorating a Budget-Friendly Room

  • IKEA! I can't recommend this place enough. While IKEA furniture directions can be enough to make the calmest person extremely frustrated and annoyed, the end product is always awesome. All of my furniture from IKEA has held up so well, and I love the way it looks. The great part about it? The price is always right! IKEA has great furniture at an affordable price, which is perfect for student budgets. 
  • Classified ads. When people are moving or making space for new furniture, they'll often rely upon classified ads to get rid of their older furniture. This is a perfect opportunity to snatch up some great items for a great price (or even free)! In many cases, people will give away furniture as long as you do the moving, so get someone strong with a truck, and take advantage of those free ads. 
  • Bring Your Bed. I know this one won't work for everyone, but if you have a couch or futon at home that you can crash on, you can save a lot of cash by bringing your bed and mattress with you. It's a great idea if you aren't spending much time at home, and more time at school. 
  • Use Random Items as Decorations. Okay, so this one's a bit broad, but I'll give you some examples. I have a mug obsession. I seem to keep collecting more mugs as the years go by. So, I now use my mug collection as a display on my desk to fill up the empty shelves. Another item I love using as decor is candles. They're great as they're useful to have around, and they look pretty put in different places in your room. I usually have about 3 candles set out around my room. My final example is hanging pictures by twine and clothespins to give your walls some extra personality. I still have to get around to hanging pictures and posters, but I'm going to do that this week before school starts for sure. 
Desk Decor | Tall Girl Meets World

How do you style your room while keeping the budget affordable? What's your favourite decoration or piece of furniture that makes your room really feel like home?

Until next time, 

Kaitlyn xo