Wallets might be extra tight for college students, but that doesn’t mean dorm rooms have to be lifelessly dull, undecorated spaces. Here are some tips for dressing up living spaces, on a budget:
Decorating for music lovers
Have an affinity for music and want to show it off? There are plenty of ways to decorate while sharing a love for The Ramones, The Beatles or any other musical acts.
Vinyl collectors can use frames to adorn their walls with album covers (Urban Outfitters, $15). CD owners can use a grid art frame to display multiple covers (Bed Bath & Beyond, $29.99) or display the cover and the disc in individual frames (Michaels, $5.49).
Make use of old band t-shirts by repurposing them into pillowcases for decorative pillows.
Start by cutting two square or rectangular pieces that are the size of the pillow you want to cover (one from the front, and one from the back of the shirt), leaving at least a 2 inch border. Next, cut 1 inch wide pieces of fringe along the border, making sure to match the front and back fringe pieces. Tie the fringe from the front of the pillow to the back on three edges of the case, then slip in the pillow before tying the fourth edge.
Two 18 inch by 18 inch pillow inserts can be purchased on Amazon for $16.
For the future Martha Stewarts of the world, designing and making decorations can be a fun side project when taking a break from studies. The best part is being able to make custom pieces that other people won’t have and that fit any personal style.
Use removable wallpaper or decals to decorate desks, mini-fridges and other hard furniture (Amazon, $22.99) and jazz up mini refrigerators with Washi tape (Amazon, $10.99 for six).
All that glitters is silver and gold
Adding a touch of metallic color can make any dorm room sparkle and stand out from the rest. Gold figurines can be found in many shapes, such as pineapples (JCPenney, $29.60), cats (Target, $12.99) and balloon animals (Amazon, $17.99). Rose gold jars can also be used for storage or to hold fresh flowers (Amazon, $10.99).
Green thumb or not, jazz up the space with a plant
Tending to a small plant can bring life to the standard issue dorm room. Purchase a small succulent or cactus (Lowes, $5.98), then pop it in a decorative pot (Urban Outfitters, $12). Make sure to leave the plant in a window where it can get adequate light, and water it once a week.
For those who can’t be responsible for the life of a plant, opt for faux succulents that’ll outlast the average college career (Urban Outfitters, $8).
Light up the night with funky string lights
Why use basic Christmas string lights to decorate a room when there are plenty of decorative options to choose from?
Lights come in many different configurations to fit a desired theme. Choose from geometric cage designs (Urban Outfitters, $34), football lights (Amazon, $16.73), make-your-own neon sign kits (Urban Outfitters, $20), photo clip string lights (Urban Outfitters, $20), baseball and glove lights (Amazon, $14.99), Doctor Who T.A.R.D.I.S lights (Amazon, $29.95) and more.
For a small desk decoration, purchase a decorative lantern and fill it with tiny, battery-operated string lights (Amazon, $4.59 for lantern, $9.99 for a pack of six fairy string lights). Take this idea a step further with a medium or large, brass lantern filled with two or three packs of string (Target, medium for $19.99; large for $29.99).
Pimp your desk
Most students spend a significant amount of time on campus camped out at dorm desks working on projects and research papers. Sitting at a cluttered desk can lead to disorganized thoughts, so try organizing and decking out the space to get the creative juices flowing.
Place a jumbo mouse pad on the desk for a pop of color and a laptop home base (Typo, $39.99). Purchase a creative container in the shape of a unicorn, donut or burger to store writing utensils (Typo, $5 to $12.99) and fill it with matching novelty pens (Typo, $6.99).
For an academic aesthetic, try a desk globe (Target, $14.99 to $20.49), an hourglass (Target, $19.99), or add a study break element to the desk by topping it with a mini, functional arcade game (ThinkGeek, $19.99).
Adorn the walls
Plain walls were meant to be decorated, and depending what gets hung on them, it can completely change the room’s vibe.
Tapestries cover a lot of space while simultaneously giving the room a home-like feel (Amazon, $17.50). Wall art made from pieces of wood can show off hobbies, such as surfing (Target, $21.84) and surfboard shelves can extend the theme further (Target, $18.99).
Hint at fandoms with subtle (and not so subtle) pieces, like a Deathly Hallows wall clock (Amazon, $31.99) or a Star Wars, marquee light poster (Target, $19.99). Proudly display allegiance to a “Game of Thrones” house by hanging a banner on the wall (ThinkGeek, $7.99 to $16.99).
Set the ambiance with a flameless scent
Can’t have candles or wax warmers in dorm rooms? No problem. Use a wallflower plug from Bath and Body Works to add a fresh scent to your living space. Plugs run from $4.50 for basic designs to $16.50 for elaborate designs with nightlights. Scent cartridge refills are normally $6.50 a piece, but they are currently on sale for $3.50.