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The 3 Best Places to Shop for Cheap & Chic Dorm Decor


College dorm room - pink and purple pillows

Picture the scene — you’re flipping through a home decor magazine and come across a page that completely speaks to you. The colors, the layout, the furniture and decor, everything is perfect! (I feel like this every time I open a Better Homes and Gardens or a Real Simple.)

Then your eyes flick down to the price, and all the happy inspiration goes out of you.

If this sounds familiar, never fear: there are plenty of places I frequent for dorm decor that have inexpensive but wonderful designs. Just like when you score a ridiculously cheap but gorgeous piece of clothing, finding fantastic decor on the cheap can make you feel like you just won the lottery.

Below, I’ll list my top three favorite places to find dorm decor on a budget, as well as some fabulous yet affordable pieces that they have to offer. (For a similar article on the clothing side, check out the top 10 places for fashion on a budget!)

3. Urban Outfitters

For whimsy, boho-chic, and one-of-a-kind dorm decor, there’s no better place than Urban Outfitters! I love visiting their gigantic store in Boston’s Quincy Market, but their website is unsurpassed in inspiration and selection.

Their products have a retro, vintage, and generally humorous and kitschy approach to design, and are classic enough to deserve a place in every fashionista’s dorm.

Here are some examples of wonderfully priced and gorgeous pieces:

Urban Outfitters
Product Information: Mirror/Jewelry Holder, Wall Decal, Duvet Cover, Poster, Jeweled Over-the-Door Hanger, Polaroid Frames, Stackable Dishes

2. Target

It seems like Target can do no wrong — their collection of dorm decor is comprehensive and affordably priced, and there are some truly great steals to be found! They’re especially great for inexpensive furniture, which can cost a small fortune at other places.

Their dorm lines are designed for small college spaces, so they should be easy to transport in and out of your school when the time comes. I love their graphic, bold color prints, and they even issue a special dorm room shopping checklist every August!

Some great Target picks:

Product Information: Shadow Box, Chandelier Decal, Tree Wastepaper Basket, Owl Lamp, Black Frames, Sofa Bed, Damask Bedding


Not surprisingly, the Swedish powerhouse IKEA is my favorite place to find the most phenomenal dorm decor. Their prices are so cheap because you have to construct some of the furniture yourself, but I look at it as a blessing — you save money and become more acquainted with power tools!

They also have great inspiration rooms to draw ideas from, with aesthetics ranging from colorful and playful to refined and sophisticated. IKEA is a wonderful place to find inexpensive basic furniture, but they also dabble in modern design, with amazing results! And they’re great for simple bedding necessities.

My favorite IKEA picks (I swear by that side table — my family bought one when I was six years old, and it’s still in great condition twelve years later!):

Product Information: Bamboo Chair, Side Table, Swivel Chair, Bedding, Steel Bookcase, Sheepskin Rug

What do you think?

Do you frequent any of these three stores? Where do you head for dorm decor on a budget? Do you have a great story about a interior design steal? Let us know with a comment!

Posted on on June 1, 2012 / Filed Under: Dorm Room / Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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13 Responses to “The 3 Best Places to Shop for Cheap & Chic Dorm Decor”

  1. 1
    June 1st, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Although all three of these places do have dorm decor, I am not sure I would classify urban outfitters as cheap, for example Bed bath and Beyond has wall decals that are much less expensive than Urban. Also I found some great posters and decals at, that were cute and inexpensive.
    Also from personal experience, before hitting the big stores I would always recommend shopping locally most college towns have local thrift stores that specialize in dorm decor by reselling items from former college students or recent grads that they no longer need. Of course use common sense such as not buying used bedding, but cute pieces such as lamps and jewelry holders can usually be found there.

  2. 2
    June 1st, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t recommend that target futon! It may be cute, but from my experience it’s painful and breaks within half a semester.

  3. 3
    June 1st, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Wow! I bought that IKEA sidetable in black during my study abroad last year. For 5€ it was absolutely worth it :) Just wish I could have given it to someone when I left…

  4. 4
    June 1st, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I highly recommend CraigsList, that’s always how I got great things for my dorm for a great deal. Just be safe!

  5. 5
    June 1st, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Just remember, the CEO of Urban Outfitters donated money to Rick Santorum’s primary election campaign, and has replaced gay pride t-shirts with Mitt Romney election merch…vote with your dollar!

  6. 6
    June 1st, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Definitely IKEA! I have that rug and that side table. :)

  7. 7
    June 1st, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Anthropologie is also great!! Not nearly as much selection (depending where you go I guess), but I was just there the other day and they had some cute stuff for not terribly expensive (coming from a girl on financial aid). Just another idea :)

  8. 8
    June 1st, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    My #1 recommendation would be TJMaxx/Marshall’s/HomeGoods if you have them in your area. I find the prettiest bedspreads here. My dorm comforter is Tommy Hilfiger and I got it at a great price, then I supplemented with things in that color scheme from Target/Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.

    TJMaxx and the others are also good places to shop for kitchen supplies if you need them. They are SO much cheaper than the bigger stores and often are carrying the exact same thing. (While Target is cheap, you’ll end up with the same exact room as half the people on your floor-trust me, I help move freshman in every fall!)

  9. 9
    June 2nd, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I agree with Ellen! I find all my best things at Tj Maxx, Marshalls and Homegoods! They have awesome pillows and comforters at low prices and they have clothes too! One stop shopping!

  10. 10
    June 2nd, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Ugh, I got that IKEA duvet cover and duvet a year ago and it was arguably one of the worst purchases in my life. The cover slips around like crazy, and is a mess and a half to put on. It just has a million tiny buttons that you have to keep buttoning all the time, and it did NOT fit the appropriate duvet size. It ended up being sideways by the middle of the night. Just a warning for you college fish out there!

    Go to Burlington Coat factory if you want a good steal on a cute bed in a bag. I got the most precious pink/green plaid that fit the twin XL perfectly. Plus it will save you some money since you have to buy all the IKEA stuff a’ la carte.

  11. 11
    June 4th, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Also Bath Bed and Beyond sign up for email alerts they send you a 20% off coupon almost every month and it sometimes good on clearance items. So you can start saving up things for your dorm. Start now don’t wait till the end of july! :D

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