Dorm Room Decorating Ideas: How to Decorate a Dorm on a Budget

Looking for dorm room decorating tips? Learn affordable ways to decorate a dorm on a budget while not sacrificing personal style, design or functionality.

With all that traveling back and forth between classes, all any student wants is a place of their own to retreat to at the end of the day. Every student wants hip and trendy college dorm room decor but it isn't always that easy decorating on a budget - Especially a student's budget whose monthly payments are coming from the good old bank of mom and dad. Well, fret not because it isn't impossible. Here are some tips for dorm room decorating on a budget.

How to Decorate a Dorm Room

Most students will agree that college dorm rooms aren't exactly the best looking rooms. Students receive their college checklist upon move-in day, but this checklist doesn't provide any information about dorm room decorating. Furthermore, going about decorating the room isn't that simple. It's not just a student budget that one has to think about. It's also difficult designing and decorating for a small space. Style At Home's style editor Karl Lohnes offers some advice in her article, "Decorating a Dorm Room on a Budget", on how to design for a tight dorm space:

  • It's all about the storage - When designing for a small space, storage is essential. Purchase a few plastic rolling storage baskets as they will be highly functional in the room. They can be stacked on top of one another and removed when not needed. Also, choose a bed such as a captain's style bed frame that has storage drawers underneath. This eliminates the need for a dresser and frees up space in the room.
  • Choose multi-functional items - Choosing dorm room furniture with multiple functions will also work well in a small area. Buying a comfortable computer chair functions as a desk as well as additional seating in the room. Movable ottomans with built-in storage are another great idea as they also function as alternative seating. Dorm room furniture such as this saves you money that can be spent on other dorm room accessories.
  • Pick wall colours wisely - The best idea is to choose neutrals for your dorm furniture and walls and add colour using accessories. This makes it easy to change colour themes down the road by just switching accessories, such as rugs, lamps, and pictures. The neutral shades will also make the rest of the colours pop in the room. Also, try to stay clear of any strong, bold patterns as they don't tend to work well in small living spaces.
  • Size matters - It's important to buy furniture and accessories that are proportionate to the size of the room. So don't go buy a huge king size bed for a tiny dorm room when a single bed will work just fine. This will leave more open space, making the dorm feel larger.

Decorating a Dorm Room on a Budget

Sticking to a budget is very important when decorating a dorm room because students don't have a lot of spare cash. It can be hard to do so when you fall in love with an item that is well beyond your price range, so the best thing to do is not put yourself in this situation at all. Don't go into stores that you know you can't afford, as you will only be tempted to buy expensive items. Instead, visit stores that have cheap dorm room decor. Budget decorating can still be fun by going to stores that have items marked down up to 60%, such as Winners or Home Sense. At stores like these, you will get quality, unique items for a lower price.

You can also shop online for affordable dorm room accessories. The benefit of shopping on the internet is that you can set a price range for the items you are willing to buy, such as at If you can't afford new, there are tons of online communities where you can find loads of great used accessories and furniture that will save you a lot of money. One such example is

Dorm Room Accessories

With the plethora of dorm room accessories out there, what should you buy? Well Jennifer Bertrand, winner of HGTV's Design Star, offers her decorating ideas on a budget in her article "Back To School: Dorm Room Decor on a Budget", published in the Washington Post. She recommends these hot items and accessories for this year's dorm room decor:

  • Buy a duvet cover - This allows you to continually change the cover to give the room a different style. IKEA offers affordable and chic duvet covers.
  • Hang canvases - Posters are so overdone. Jennifer suggests buying some blank canvases that you can either paint unique designs on yourself or stretch fabric over them for a fun look. You can canvas at any art supply store such as DeSerres.
  • Hang curtains over closet spaces - Not only will this hide all your storage items, but it can also add a pop of colour to a room if you choose a brightly coloured or patterned fabric. You can find cheap curtain fabric at places like Wal-Mart.
  • Create a photo collage - Display your prized memories in a creative way. Frame them in small frames with black or white borders ( such as ones that can be found at IKEA or even Dollarama) and arrange them on the wall in a unique way. Not only will it serve as a conversation piece but it's also a fun way to keep family and friends close. For a classic look, use only black and white photographs.

With all these dorm room decorating tips for designing on a budget it's easy to create your own home away from home that is stylish yet functional. Your new dorm room will be the talk of the residence!

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