It’s tiny, your desk legs are uneven, the windows are stuck shut — but this modest dorm room is going to be home for at least the next semester. If you plan on sleeping and studying comfortably, it’s imperative that it looks as nice as you want to feel. There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on curtains and posters, though; with a bit of creativity and some extra effort, you can personalize your dorm room without breaking the bank.
• Scour your parents’ basement: Ask if your parents or siblings have any unused furniture or decorative items in storage. Many families have garages and basements that are equivalent to rummage sales, so look around see what treasures you have hidden in your very own home.
• Refurbish: Instead of throwing away old, faded furniture, revive it with some spray paint or wallpaper. Dress up an ugly lamp with stickers or ribbons; paint an old bedside table; coat your boring mini fridge with magnets. Even the most boring decorative pieces can become exciting if you give them a little love.
• Don’t buy curtains: Search for cheap tapestries and fabrics at thrift shops and craft stores. You can drape them across your window to add a splash of color to your room, but the options don’t stop there; you can create privacy with a makeshift curtain or cover white wall space with a bold tapestry.
• DIY: There are some great do-it-yourself websites, blogs and videos with clever, simple ideas on how to decorate creatively. From wall art and lampshades to pillowcases and lighting, you can find fun projects for just about anything with a simple google search.
• Lighting: Fluorescent lighting can really ruin the atmosphere of a room, so brighten things up with supplemental lighting. Christmas lights are a quintessential college accent, and for good reason; they’re cheap (or free, if you’re family’s willing to lend you a few strands), flexible and effective. Remember to bring a desk lamp, and consider buying a few cheap standing lamps as well.
• Lots of storage: Go for multifunctionality everywhere; storage bins can become coffee tables and ottomans, for example, and an antique suitcase can be a vintage and versatile accent.
• Coordinate with your roommate: If you’re sharing a room, talk about colors and styles that work well together. Determine who’s in charge of buying and bringing each item, then discuss extra decorations you can splurge on together.
• Showcase your jewelry and accessories: Find a nice jewelry holder and display your accessories front and center; if you already have a selection of glittery, colorful trinkets, why not use them as decoration?