Dorm Room Decor on a Ramen Noodle Budget


It’s almost back to school time. For some kids, back to school means tears.

But, if you’re heading off to college, it’s a time of excitement. You’ll get to meet new people, live on your own for the first time, and decorate your own space.

Dorm decorating on a college budget can be challenging, but it’s also a chance for you to get your creative juices flowing and put your own stamp on the place you’ll call home for the next nine months.

Furniture Ideas

Your dorm room will most likely come with a few standard pieces of furniture, such as a bed, desk and dresser.

While you can’t do much about those pieces, you can bring in some of your own furniture to make the place a little more cozy.

Craigslist and local thrift stores are great places to find furniture that’s priced for a college budget.

If a piece of furniture doesn’t “wow” you, it doesn’t take much to spruce it up.

A can of spray paint in a funky color, such as bright green or royal purple, turns a ho-hum, beat up wooden chair into an attention grabbing place to sit.

You can give upholstered furniture new life by covering it with new fabric, too.

When I was in college, my roommate and I covered our green floral couch with a king sized bed sheet. All it took was a few stitches and staples to turn an outdated piece into something more stylish.

Storage Ideas

Dorm rooms are notoriously short on space.

Make working organization and storage part of your dorm decorating plan.

If you’re feeling particularly handy, try making this jewelry organizer from Rebekah at Twinkle and Twine.

Depending on your jewelry storage needs and space, you can make the entire organizer, or just the hooks for hanging necklaces or the frame for storing earrings.

Decorate the Walls

If dorm room paint isn’t your style, there are tons of ways you can add interest to the walls of your room without busting your college budge.

Posters are okay, but everyone will have them.

Instead of hanging up posters, try framing postcards and arranging them artfully on your walls. Use sticky tack or sticky nails that won’t leave marks on the wall to hang the framed cards.

Ikea is a great place to find inexpensive 4 by 6 inch frames. You can track down postcards at gift shops on your summer vacation or in thrift stores.

Temporary wallpaper from Swag Paper gives you a more sophisticated way to decorate your dorm room walls.

It’s also a more pricey option, as panels start at just over $56 each. But, it can be worth it if you only have a small area to cover.

Check with your RA before hanging the wallpaper, though, as some schools are pretty strict about what can go on the walls.


Odds are your dorm room will come with some curtains that make your stomach churn.

Luckily, you can hang your own curtains without breaking the bank. You can find cheap curtains and curtain rods at thrift stores or places such like Ikea or Target.

Take a look through the linen closet at your parent’s home or grandparent’s, too. You never know what cool vintage curtains might be lurking in the back of the closet.

Curtains are also easy enough to make on your own, whether you can sew or not. Visit a fabric store and invest in a few yards of cotton fabric, either in a solid color or a fun print.

To save even more, you can purchase a large bed sheet, either queen or king size, and cut it to fit in your dorm window.

If you can’t sew, use a no-sew hemming tape to make a pocket for the curtain rod.

How do you plan on decorating your dorm room this year?

Kelly Anderson is a financial planner who blogs about financial advice you can use in your everyday life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.



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