Dorm Room Decorating on a Dime - @GalTime

Home & Living

Dorm Room Decorating on a Dime


By Nici Perreault

Calling all college students: There's only one month of summer-- time to start planning your dorm room décor! Sure, you'll be living in a small shared space, but that just means you need to be creative.

Here are some ideas for adding personality to your dorm room without spending a ton of money.

1. Fabric your walls – Painting is not normally allowed in dorm rooms, but don’t let stop you from adding some color to those drab walls. Ashley White, founder of Decoralogy, an interior design blog, suggests picking a nice piece of fabric or a set of sheets to drape along your wall. Choose a solid color or something with a repeating patter to make it more modern and read more like wallpaper. Use upholstery nails, if allowed, to secure the fabric to the wall for an inexpensive, yet elegant look.

2. Create colorful cork boards – Do it yourself cork boards can add a pop of color to your room, while offering a useful place to pin up pictures, notes and reminders. According to Cathy Hobbs, founder of Cathy Hobbs Design Recipes and finalist on Season 6 of HGTV’s “Design Star”... you can make your own cork board. Simply buy a piece of cork board, wrap it with batting, then cover it with your favorite fabric. Criss-cross it with ribbon to make for an easy display.

3. Hang collectibles from the ceiling – Don’t be limited by wall space! Dana Angelucci of Dalucci Designs suggests using wire or twine and string it from one end of the room to the other. Utilize clothespins to hang pictures, movie stubs or even Christmas lights to add some life to your room.

4. Make an eclectic lamp – You'll be needing a lamp for those late night study sessions. Lindsey Smith of the interior design PR firm, the Ligné Agency, suggests making your own. Smith says find an old bottle, such as a wine or beer bottle, and pick up a lamp kit from Home Depot ($10). Simply follow the instructions in the kit, add a light bulb with the correct wattage and buy a lamp shade to put on top.

5. Fill your walls with graphicsWalls 360, a company that produces on-demand wall graphics, is a great place to go to show off your personality. Choose a picture of your favorite scenic view, or favorite television star, and hang it up for everyone to see, without having to worry about leaving holes or sticky residue on your wall. The graphics can be removed and reapplied to surfaces multiple times, perfect for when you move into your next dorm room.

6. Buy a rug – Rugs are a great way to make your dorm room feel more like a home, and most likely cover up less attractive carpet/flooring that comes with college living. Gail Wright, owner of Gail Wright at Home, suggests buying an outdoor area rug. They can still be comfortable under foot, but cost about half as much as regular indoor rugs.

There are tons of budget-friendly places to find dorm room treasures. Here are a few.

Places to Peruse for Dorm Room Decor

HomeGoods/Marshalls/TJ Maxx – Excellent resources for affordable home décor.

Bed Bath and Beyond – A must for great sheets, bedding basics, and cooking or bath needs.

The Container Store – Find bins for extra storage to keep your room organized.

Target – Everything you need from bedding to desk accessories.

Ikea – Great for affordable lighting, artwork, mirrors and accessories.

Amazon – Posters of all your favorite things and much more.

Urban Outfitters – Has tons of fun bedding as well as quirky accessories.

Etsy – Online site for vintage goods; a great place to find artwork and pillows.

If you need help pulling this all together, Michelle Henderson, interior designer and author of the blog Second Street East, offers an e-design service. For $100 she will work with you to come up with a design plan for your room and source all of the products for your purchase. Give her a budget to work with and you can have a nicely put together dorm room full of style, but not expense.

Follow these ideas and visit these retailers and you'll be on your way to creating a dorm room that feels like home, without breaking your college budget.

  • Subscribe to the GalTime newsletter

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thank you for registering for the GalTime newsletter. Be on the lookout for the latest news, information and offers from

  • About this author

  • Related stories

Most Popular

Around the Web
  • Sites we love

Powered by WorldNow

Our Team

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and Galtime. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service .