The following post is from our friends at Small Kitchen College. Enjoy!
Have you fallen into the ‘college kid decor’ trap? You know the kind. Bob Marley posters, a counter filled with Keystone Light cans, poorly strung Christmas lights or empty pizza boxes laying around after a hungry midnight study session? Of course you haven’t! Just checking.
Maintaining a beautiful kitchen on a less than beautiful budget can be seen as impossible. But with a few simple steps, any kitchen can be brought to life, and for under ten dollars! With these tips, you can transform your college kitchen into your own little piece of design heaven acting as the perfect backdrop for your college cooking and entertaining.
**10 best ways to brighten up your kitchen for under 10 dollars**
1. Chalkboard Paint. The perfect way to add a little interest to any corner of your kitchen. Jot down recipe notes, menus, a to-do list, or even encourage your visitors to create little doodles to act as an ever changing piece of art. If you want to get really crazy, paint a couple of your cabinets and chalk it up with cool designs or text for a little something different. A whole chalkboard wall? Yes please.
2. Vintage plates. Mismatching vintage plates from thrift stores and garage sales are a cheap and fantastic way to serve all of your delicious cooking. Nothing is sweeter than different types of floral and feminine plates to make any meal feel like a tiny tea party…even if it’s ramen and you’re eating it in between study sessions. Head over to your local thrift store and search through the dinnerware section for some beautiful gems that will usually cost around 50 cents to two dollars each. Read Jen’s posthere to gain thrifting expertise before you go!
3. Pretty Placemats. Even if you have the teeniest of tables, adding a pop of color with placemats is an excellent way to liven up your kitchen area. Get eclectic and find a print or texture that contrasts with the rest of your kitchen so your visitors (or even you, especially on those early 8am class days) will automatically be drawn to the table. If you are looking for a bargain (which, duh, you are) Urban Outfitters’ $3 doilly placemats are just one of the many cheap and delightful ‘mats out there. So, switch them up every couple of months and have fun with it! Oh yeah, and they protect your table from heat damage and any other messes. Whatever. We’re in it for the pretty, right?
4. Dress up your fridge. Being in college does not mean you are too old to still appreciate fun magnets. In fact, embrace it because you are still getting grades and test scores, so don’t hesitate to display them on the fridge like you’re your own proud mother! Is that embarrassing? It might be. Either way, get in on the wonderful realm of magnets! They are a cute way of sprucing up your otherwise dull refrigerator plus they can hold up anything your heart desires. Fun postcards, love letters, business cards, magazine clippings, you name it.
(This magnet idea from Curbly is a fab DIY project. Do you have any orphaned chunky earrings laying around? Or perhaps a broken brooch that is way too beautiful to get rid of? Turn it into a magnet! Totally affordable and easy, plus it puts all of those lonely baubles to good use.)
5. Fresh flowers. There is nothing like picking up some fresh flowers, putting them in a vase and plopping them on your kitchen counter or table to liven up the day. Whether it’s the intoxicating scent of whichever flowers you chose, or the bright sensational colors of the petals and stems colliding together, having fresh flowers on hand is definitely worth the small investment. If you are on a tight budget and can’t keep replenishing them every couple of days, good quality fake flowers from Michaels or A.C Moore get the job done as well.
6. Vintage bottles. Quirky old bottles are always floating around in every crevice of thrift stores and flea markets, just dying for you to pick them up. Do not let these gems go unnoticed because they have so much to offer you, especially in the kitchen. Line up different sized vintage bottles on a shelf or on a windowsill or place dainty flowers in each one to create a different type of floral arrangement. Whatever you do, keep them near a window because the way the light hits the different types of glass is really the best part. Wine bottles you’ve emptied yourself also count, so long as they’re attractive.
7. Beautiful Soap. Basic products that have pretty packaging are one of the best way to liven up your everyday life. Hands must be washed, let’s be real. Soap needs to serve its purpose but why can’t it be beautiful at the same time? There are so many great brands out there like Mrs. Meyers and Methodthat offer affordable and wonderful smelling scents that will make your kitchen feel a little bit fancy (and eco friendly!). But hey, don’t feel bad if you buy soap that’s a bit pricey just because you fall in love with the packaging. When the soap runs out, just re-fill it with the cheap stuff. No one will ever know.
8. Fruit. Did you know food can also serve as decor? Fruit is the best way to throw some color into your kitchen look without spending too much money, and decor you can eat is something we all can get behind. It benefits you in more ways than one. When you aren’t using them, put your lemons in a bowl and place it on your counter. Mix apples and bananas in a basket on your kitchen table. Just remember to eat them too! No one wants a smelly old orange lurking around in the name of interior design.
9. Mason jars. No kitchen is complete without a bunch of rustic yet adorable mason jars. They are all of the rage right now and for good reason. These wonderful jars offer you so many different benefits. Whether you want to infuse vodka with lemon slices, store homemade tomato sauce or spraypaint gold and use as a vase for your fresh flowers, the possibilities are endless! Head over to design site likeDesign*Sponge, Decor8 and Pinterest for inspiration.
10. Dish towels. Similar to place mats, dish towels are a functional yet fantastic way to add color and beauty to your kitchen. There are so many interesting dish towels out there that won’t make your wallet sad. My college (Savannah College of Art & Design) has a working class studio that designs truly wonderful home decor items like these $10 kitchen towels. Stocking up on a bunch of adorable dish towels and switching them up every week will encourage you to do your laundry more often. Hey, that’s my motivation. I get to use a new dish towel that week! Is this growing up? Oh man.
Sarah Cunningham writes about food for Small Kitchen College. She’s a senior at SCAD, where she studies fashion and spends too much money on thrift store knick knacks & tries her best to experiment successfully in the kitchen.
Small Kitchen College is a guide to cooking, eating, drinking, and living on and off campus, with recipes, tips, and tales generated by college students across the country. If it’s campus food, we’ve got it here.