Before you shop, sit down with roommates to come up with a plan, research prices and develop your own budget. (Remember: If you split costs, it will be hard to decide who gets what upon move out.) Then, hit the stores for low-priced treasures.
Big box stores
Target (Downtown and on Atlanta Highway) and T.J. Maxx (in the Beechwood Shopping Center) have long been staples of college decorating. Find chic bedding and lamps at a good value, plus oft-overlooked items like wastebaskets, laundry baskets and kitchenware. At T.J. Maxx, land deals on designer items and nab extras like picture frames.
The closest location of the Swedish mega-retailer is in Atlanta, but students often pool together to nab big-ticket items for palatable prices, like the minimalist Malm bed frame ($279 for a queen) and the versatile Lack tables, which come in a range of sizes and start at $9.99.
This downtown shop caters to the student looking for a colorful, playful vibe. Poufs and embroidered pillows abound, some with sassy sayings like “Pardon My French” ($48). Luxe bedding, wall art and mirrors round out the offerings.
Metal + Petal
This is no dorm outfitter; Metal + Petal is an upscale interior design house. But the company’s retail shop on Baxter offers some home accessories for small splurges with big impact. Check out the velvet throw pillows (from $24), accent rugs (from $28) and cheeky fine art prints (from $16). Also find plants, coffee table books and kitchen tools.
Bed frames, pots and pans, lamps and tables are fun to thrift, and deals abound. Visit one of two Athens Area Habitat for Humanity Re- Store locations (where you can find new and used pieces for up to 90% off retail price benefitting affordable housing initiatives), Goodwill or America’s Thrift Store. For yard sales and curb discards, try side streets off Milledge and Boulevard — especially at the end of the semester. Facebook Marketplace is an- other place to search locally for used items.
This national retailer in a historic downtown storefront inspires a modern take on the boho glam vibe. Find vintage-style furniture, colorful ceramics and dreamy bedding — but also prices that are often out of reach of a student’s budget. For a semi-secret clearance selection, get a group together and split the cost to the regional outlet, Final Cut Georgia, two hours away near Augusta. Recent finds include steep discounts on an iridescent headboard and a rattan hanging chair.
Scoring a cool piece with history at a good price always feels like a win. Some favorite local vintage and antique stores include Athens Antique & Vintage (for good old fashioned tables), Lexington Vintage (great kitchenware, wall art and records), Simply Old in Watkinsville (deals on true antiques) and Junk in the Trunk (a 10,000 square foot treasure trove from 80 vendors).