6 Must-Know Tips for Decorating Your Dorm on a Serious Budget

It's possible to decorate well without breaking the bank!
Author:
Publish date:

For my second post on styling your dorm (last week we talked dorm room color schemes), we are going to be looking at dorm room decorating on a budget. A serious budget, that is.

Decorating is expensive and trying to do so cheaply can require some maneuvering. Stores like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Pottery Barn have some amazing dorm decor pieces, but prices add up quickly, and before you know it you've blown all your money on just a few items. Of course sales and coupons go a long way (and we'll get to those), but there are even more ways to keep the cost low, while still getting the look of a higher end price tag. 

Here are some tried and tested tips you can use to decorate your dorm room on the cheap without sacrificing style:

Tip #1: Etsy & Thrift Stores are Your Friends

Urban Outfitters Bed Album Wall

Record covers or prints of your favorite albums are decorations and a conversation starter. 

Art is an amazing way to add personality to your room, however it can get expensive really fast. Of course there is a reason for this -- remember that you are paying for the time and energy artists put into their pieces. 

While you're still a broke student, though, buying art digitally and printing it yourself is a way to beat the more expensive prices plus shipping costs. There are tons of digital prints to purchase on Etsy, and you can buy these pieces directly from their respective artists, print them at home, and put them in inexpensive frames yourself.

Also, don't forget about thrifting! Thrift stores often have records, postcards, and vintage photos which can be used to create a cool wall motif like the one shown above. 

Tip #2: Crafters, Here is Where You Shine

While I seem to lack a crafting thumb (if that's even a thing), I will acknowledge that DIYs can be a great way to give your room a personalized touch without breaking the bank. 

For instance, you can find cool frames at a thrift store and spray paint them for a cohesive look. Also, gluing string around an old lamp or painting the shade can make something you've had forever look brand new.

Never underestimate what some paint, tape or adhesive can do to an old piece. The person above made cool photos even cooler with the help of some washi tape!

Tip #3: Sales and Coupons are Worth Watching

Screenshot target website sale

SALE the magic four letter word. 

A obvious tip, but an important one. When I was first decorating my dorm from scratch, I scoured all the sales I possibly could, researched every item extensively, and signed up for way too many email lists so I could save money. No shame, the decor game is expensive! 

Stores like Walmart, Target, and Ikea are cheap meccas for cute items -- and their sale sections have some crazy deals. Also, more expensive stores like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Pottery Barn Teen can have surprisingly good sale sections, while independent retailers often offer great dorm buys for less than you'd think if you just search a little. 

It takes some time to shop this way, but in the end it's worth it. 

Tip #4: Use Plants and Lights

If you ask me, plants are the most underrated decorating items found in dorm rooms. Plants help with the air quality, create a sense of the outdoors, and add calmness to a room. Dorms often feel sterile and plants help with that. 

If you are a plant beginner there are lots of easy plants that are low-maintenance, and if you're advanced, you can invest in needy plants for those who know their stuff. My plants always make me smile (and I love naming them). 

If you have a tendency to kill even low-maintenance plants then I recommend a fake greenery wall. Using command hooks and string you can create an amazing gram-worthy look and there's no watering required. Add string lights for extra points.

Tip #5: Invest in Your Bed & Spend Less on the Rest 

While it seems counterintuitive to tell you to spend more money on something, it can be worth it in the long run to splurge on your dorm room bedding -- namely a mattress pad, a topper, and/or your duvet and pillows.  

After all, your bed is the main focal point in your dorm room and you'll be doing a lot on it; studying, spilling tea, sleeping, watching Netflix, writing essays due at midnight, the works. Not only is your bed's decor important, but its comfort is paramount as well. A good night's sleep and a bed you feel safe and cozy in are absolutely worth it. 

Tip #6: Show Your Spirit with a Tapestry or Flag

School Pride Dorm Room

Show your sports team, pride, or school spirit off!

If you love to show off your school spirit, or if you are just a hardcore sports fan, you can get a tapestry to show your love for your school or team. Tapestries are great because they take up a whole wall. In a shared space you only have around one wall of space to truly decorate and a tapestry creates a great moment without having to buy lots of separate pieces. Signing up for an email list can get you coupons for the tapestry, and your school bookstore often has pieces on sale that people overlook. 

Alternatively if you want to hang a flag, either of your home country or a pride flag, it's a creative way to show who you are and what you love front and center. It's simple, it creates a focal point in the room, and it shows your personality to everyone who sees it.

How are you planning on decorating your dorm room? 

Have you set a color scheme with your roommate or are you picking things at random to create your own style? What style speaks to you the most?

Related Stories