My College Apartment: The Story & a Tour
Updated: Jun 28, 2022
I never would have imagined the kind of apartment I would live in throughout my years in college. When I hear stories of college dorms and apartments, I hear about the radiator that broke in the dead of winter, the sink that always dripped, the one closet you had to share with another person, the pranks on your hallway. Kind of endearing, really. Something about a struggle makes for a good story.
My first year, I lived in an old girl's dormitory. It was two girls to a room, and two rooms to a bathroom (read: 4 girls to a bathroom.) It used to be 4 bunked to a room, 8 to a bathroom, so who could complain!
Most people didn't want to live in that building because it was old and you had to share a room, but I found it charming in every way. It was a Mayberry of dorms, if I ever saw one. The front door had a scanner that was required for entrance, but once in, many girls left their own doors unlocked. I loved that I could walk across the hall and have tea with a pal, or say hello to friends behind open doors on my way to or from somewhere. There was a large lobby that I considered "our living room," with the most horrendously beat-up, out-of-tune baby grand that we often played on with much enthusiasm. A large fireplace (that was never lit because of insurance, or something) contained a brick hearth that on many occasions was a stage for pretend speeches or little plays I watched girls in the dorm put on. This reminded me of growing up with my brother, how we used our own little hearth as a stage for all sorts of "performances," too. (Oh, the stories my parents could tell.)
The dormitory had these old wooden phone booths with no phones, an upstairs room with a couch where I took naps a few times, a balcony with rocking chairs, and a courtyard that to this day I am determined to have a tea party in, although I'm running out of time to do so. There are many secrets about that dorm that made living there thrilling.
At the end of my freshman year, I needed to figure out where I wanted to live next. I had an older friend going into her senior year who wanted to room with me, but the apartment we wanted to room in required a bigger group than we could put together. "Well, there is a group of girls who has invited me to live in their apartment," she told me, "so why don't you and one of the friends who wanted to room with you apply for married housing."
"It's just like the bigger apartments we were looking at- but for two people. There are not enough married couples to fill them all, I'm sure, and they sure aren't going to let those units sit empty. I'd just put your names in the hat- I think you'd have a pretty good chance."
They have a drawing system at our school for on campus housing. A friend and I applied, and the next morning she called me in the middle of my fitness class. I got down from biking and stepped out of the gym. "Hey, what's up?" I said. "Annika- did you see the email?" "No, what email? What happened?"
"We got the apartment."
No waiting, no tense drawing night, no pacing the floor. We got it.
This was the apartment complex I was advised to go for by the first "brother" I adopted on campus. "I know it is more expensive, but you don't have to have a meal plan here, and you get a kitchen. If you do the math, it ends up saving a lot of money. Get in one of these apartments as soon as you can."
So I did the math. My parents weren't so sure I was getting the best bang for my buck, but I had it all figured out. I sent them pictures of the math showing them how much each meal in the cafeteria cost, divided out, the difference in the cost of living there in contrast with other apartments and the dorms (that all required a meal plan). If I budgeted decently and meal-prepped even just most days, it would save me a lot in the long run. Finally they were convinced of my decision. Numbers don't lie!
And the apartment was ours.
I shared it with one roomie for two years, another for a semester until she graduated. Now, I have the place to myself for my last semester- although, I often have "sisters" spend the night, so it's like having a different roommate each week, which is loads of fun!
It's by far the nicest place I've lived in, and perhaps I won't live anywhere so wonderful for a very long time- but it has been sweet and I am treasuring every last second here. Well, here is the tour!
Here is the hallway! Also known as my "garden," though this semester it has been very minimal what I have been able to keep up with. Busy busy! In the past, I have enjoyed "kitchen scrap gardening," and have made delicious salads with romaine that I regrew among other things. I now have a sole Swedish ivy hanging in the window that I can't kill for anything. It's awesome. I got it from the most creative man at our farmer's market, who I'm certain can make just about anything. He made the little macrame hanger, and got the ivy while hiking in Colorado. I've always wanted Swedish ivy, but its not easy to come by in the South and is expensive to order. I could not believe my eyes when I beheld it for the first time! I named it Linnea.
And here is a giant peace lily I bought recently. I have been wanting something big and leafy in this spot practically since I moved in. Better late than never! (Previously I kept a dead lavender plant here. I bought it on clearance, hoping with all my might that it could be resurrected. Then winter came and it shriveled, and I told people it was dormant for about a year, until I could no longer be convinced that it was dormant. Poor thing.)
Here's the living room! I furnished the living room fairly inexpensively by thrifting, refinishing, and upholstering hand-me-downs, etc. The green velvet couch ($75!) is stuffed with down and so soft. It makes me sentimental because my grandma had a green velvet couch that I adored growing up. Sometimes, I like to lay down and look out the windows and admire the treetops and chirping birds out front. It makes me feel like I am in a treehouse!
I thrifted my rack and table together for about $25. (Hooray for negotiating!) The table legs were painted an unfortunate shade of blue, which my mom graciously helped to correct. I may refinish the top one day, but not in the near future! Flowers were from my recital (gone but not forgotten since I took this picture!) I use my rack as much for display of my favorite seasonal clothes as I do storage. It may be the loveliest $10 I have ever spent. Underneath is a pink velvet pouf I got on clearance for $7 at Walmart my sophomore year and my grandma's basket, which holds allllllll the blankets. All pink, naturally.
All of the chairs I got for free, and reupholstered with painter's cloth. (A budget-friendly tip from an old friend!) The living room chair received much sanding, staining and finishing as well to amend the atrocity that it was prior. (An old dorm chair thrown away- sturdy though it is!) Two of my kitchen table chairs still need some TLC, if I ever find the time and burning desire. The cane back on each was ripped in some place or another. Still usable, but not the prettiest. I fixed one with a clever suggestion from a friend- chicken wire! I had to get creative with piping to seal in all the edges. No sweaters shall be snagged here.
A few instruments- my "Annika-sized" guitar named Oliver, a hammered dulcimer handed down as a Birthday present a few years ago from grandparents, and the curious old mandolin grandpa gave me at my senior recital instead of flowers. And various records I've accumulated. I think I've only bought two of them, the rest were old and given to me.
Note the nine frames on the wall, which I have never filled. I wanted them to be cohesive... half wanting to K.I.S.S. it and put a bunch of photos in black and white. The other half of me championed for the green, leafy concept to coordinate with the sofa. And, a percent of a percent of me wanted to fill it with the most ridiculous, unrelated, unflattering photos with friends just to make me laugh. I never could decide, so I didn't. That's my story there.
To the Kitchen!!
This kitchen is universally a dream. Nice, spacious, lots of storage. A whole pantry, gracious. It will be hard to leave it after graduation! Many pots of tea and coffee were made here, many meals cooked here, many dishes done here, and many friends come for all but the third on the list. ;)
Dried flowers from a few valentine's with the girls ago. (Can you tell I'm sentimental yet?) And a scentsy... let me tell you, I did not know what these were until college. I won this at a game night last school year, and I think it's the best. That is, until I can live somewhere where candles are permitted.
And here's the spoon I accidentally blended in a blender when I first got the apartment. (I either underestimated the sharpness of the blades or overestimated the strength of the spoon. It was a mistake. Anyway, I thought it was funny so I stuck it on my wall!)
My apartment has been a pleasure to have and look after. There have been many many times I have lifted the blinds in the morning or tilted them as the sun set in the late afternoon, and just been in awe of the blissful place it is. There have also been many many times I have looked around and felt the chaos. But at the end of the day- it is reflective of Annika in this season. The last minute sleepovers (and the dishes and vacuuming that follow); the mismatched furniture and decorations I've had to become clever and resourceful to put together; the artwork spread on the table and counters after a painting party; the late nights of homework after spending time chatting with my "sisters" on campus and the books and papers that lay scattered until morning. It's called living- it is often a little messy or chaotic, but I love it.
Anyways. I hope you have enjoyed the tour. ;)