Dorm Room Decorating on a Budget: Creative, Inexpensive Ways to Decorate a College Home

It's your teen's first home away from home. Here are some ways to create a comfort zone for your teenager while he or she is away at college.

Packing up your teen for college is an emotionally bittersweet time. You are proud to send him or her off towards independence and the future, but sad to see your baby leave home. If you help feather that new collegiate nest, it will help you with your empty one at home.

Choose a Palette

Before you start collecting all the dorm goodies, you’ll want a color scheme to help you with your numerous selections. Ask your teen to identify some favorite colors and a style you can plan around. Does your teen like black and white, hippie-retro decor or bright pink and orange polka dots? Choosing a design scheme will make dorm decorating lots of fun. Adding colors to a drab dorm room in the form of pillows, area rugs, a curtain and other accessories are inexpensive ways to bring a dorm room to life.

Sleep Well

You’ll want your teen to be comfy in bed and get that much-needed rest in-between college classes. A new set of sheets with comforter and pillow gives you an opportunity to go shopping with your teen so you’ll be sure he or she is happy with the bedding design. Buy an extra set or two of sheets to accommodate for that not-so-often laundry schedule. Check for online specials, or buy sheets at a discount bedding store.

Bring Light and Life

The overhead fluorescent lighting in the dorm room is probably going to be awful. Consider purchasing a floor lamp, desk lamp, and bedside reading lamp for your teen’s room in order to offer softer lighting alternatives.

If your teen can be responsible enough to make sure it gets sunlight and water occasionally, buy a plant for the windowsill to add some life to the bland dorm room. If you think your teen will be a plant killer, consider one of the attractive faux plants available at home improvement stores- same effect, less effort. Lighting and plants are creative and inexpensive ways to make a dorm room more 'homey.'

If the Walls Could Talk

The big blank walls of a dorm room are going to scream for something cool. Check out All Posters for the best and least expensive collection of posters- including wall mural decals to cover up that cinderblock expanse. Look for “Fun-Tak” which is the best adhesive you can find to affix posters and other wall art to that cinderblock. Also, consider large reprints of a few favorite photographs of friends, family, pets or other things that will remind your teen of home in a non-embarrassing way.

Go Dutch

The best way to economize dorm room decor is to split the cost of room items with a new roommate. Encourage your teen to call or email his or her new roomie. A small refrigerator or microwave, coffee pot, room rug, etc are going to be half price if you both chip in!

One fun website to check out is Dorm Delicious, which offers packing tips, how to construct a loft bed, and more fun ideas. Most of all, enjoy the experience of spending some of these precious last moments with your teen.

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