Non-Permanent Ways to Make Your College Rental Feel Like Home


These creative, non-permanent decor ideas will give any college apartment that lived-in feel & familiar look of home.


The following is a guest post by Tiffany Cody, Digital Marketing Content Specialist at Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

Coldwell Banker teamed up with Rutgers University to get tried & true decorating tips to help make college rentals feel like home. These creative ideas, all of which are non-permanent, will give any off-campus apartment that lived-in feel and familiar look of home.

Check out these awesome suggestions from Cassie Frustaci, junior at Rutgers University, and Mark Sharp, Associate Director of Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships at Rutgers.

Use Furniture from Home


Image via Flickr user The Living Room

Although initially reluctant, Cassie quickly warmed-up to the idea of decorating her first college rental apartment with furniture from her family’s home. Specifically, while rummaging through the basement, Cassie found something special that brought back fond childhood memories.

“When I uncovered my old desk from high school, I immediately was on board for taking it to my new off-campus apartment. There’s a certain comfort in the familiarity of having the same desk from high school; and it definitely feels good to save some money.”

Don’t have family in close proximity to college? No worries. Mark suggests trying your local Goodwill store as an excellent resource for gently used furniture.

Remake It

Don’t pass up a piece of furniture that could be a diamond in the rough – instead, remake it! Cassie and her new roommate decided to take a DIY-approach to their dining room table.

“Maybe that old table Mom and Dad want you to take is stained; that’s the last thing you want in your new hip apartment. Rather than spending cash on a brand new table, take that old one and remake it. This could even be a great way for you and your roommate to bond! Paint the table with a collage of your favorite college memories so far (best pizza spot, nicknames for each other, school fight song, etc.). Coat it with a clear sealant so the paint doesn’t chip and voila! Now your custom-designed new table won’t remind you of clumsy awkward moments. With a little creativity, it will become a unique piece of furniture that you and your roommate will always treasure…and probably argue about who gets to keep it when you move out!”

“Before I Graduate” Wall 

Mark encourages students to be creative and peruse websites such as Pinterest to inspire practical, cost effective ways to make college rentals feel like home. Consider the following brilliant idea Cassie shared with us the decorative equivalent to a bucket list!

“Whether it’s your personal wall in the bedroom, or you and your roommates get together to make one for all of you to share, creating a “Before I Graduate” wall in the apartment will help you honor and memorialize your college experience right at home!”

Cassie did a little research for her off-campus apartment and found that Amazon has black chalkboard sheets which function similarly to wallpaper. Even better, the chalkboard sheets can be cut and posted (non-permanently) to a wall in the apartment.

“Use chalk to write your goals for the year, events you plan on attending, or new things you want to try on campus (rock climbing, ballroom dancing class, Color Run, etc.). Then, as you and/or your housemates complete these activities and adventures, just cross them off the list!”

Cozy Blankets, String Lights, and Pictures (of course!)


Image via Flickr user Wicker Paradise

The start of the new school year is inextricably tied to the early beginnings of fall. There’s no better time to think about decorating your college apartment with the cozy comforts of home. That’s exactly what Cassie had in mind as she pulled together soft blankets, warm lights, and plenty of pictures to make her rental resemble home.

“No matter what a room looks like, the moment you lay down a soft fuzzy blanket and hang a few warm-colored string lights, for some undiscovered reason, magic fills the air and the room immediately feels more comfortable. I’m wrapping firefly string lights (small bulbs attached by a copper wire) around the draped tapestry over my bed. We’re also using them around the interior door-frame of our apartment. The combination of glowing warm lights and the embrace of a cozy fleece blanket make any new place feel special.”


Image via Flickr user Didricks

“You can still further personalize this already welcoming scene by adding a collage of your favorite pictures as a border around the room. It’s a personal touch that you can always add to; especially with pictures of you and your roomie! Pictures can be hung on a mini clothesline, taped to the wall in the shape of your initials or a heart, or even be framed.”

Safety at Home

Decorative creativity should never be detrimental to safety. Mark cautions students to always put safety first in their off-campus home. He suggests using surge protectors for electronics and appliances, not extension cords. He also reminds students to avoid overloading circuits and to be careful when using candles. Lastly, Marks advises students to always make sure their new rental has a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

To learn more about Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, visit

Christian is the Senior Brand Media Manager for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. In this role, he oversees social media for the brand as well as media planning for all national advertising campaigns. Originally from Miami, Christian moved to New Jersey from Atlanta in 2015. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, hanging with friends and binging TV's latest hits.

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  1. f.leemorey
    November 7, 2015

    Goodwill is a great resource as is the Habitat for Humanity shops especially the ones in close proximity to affluent areas. You can score inexpensive canvasses at art shops and go “Jackson Pollock” on them and voila! you have a always hungry college freshman original.
    Thank you for jogging the grey matter.

  2. Tonja Davis
    July 18, 2016

    I’m on section 8 looking for a 2 bedroom house for me and my daughter please get ahold of me at 4074807306 in Saint Cloud Florida or hollpaw or Harmony,Fl

  3. House basement
    September 11, 2017

    It’s wonderful content.


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