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Decorate Your Dorm Room on a Budget: 7 Tips to Help You Save Money as You Enter College



We’re closing in on that time of year again:  back to school! As the fall semester approaches and you’re getting your belongings together to move into a dorm room or a new apartment, you probably stop and ask yourself at some point, “How am I going to decorate my room?”

You’ll probably come up with an elaborate plan and then realize you don’t have both the time, money and space to do everything you want to do, but you still want your decorating to look great and up to your standards!

Have no fear, there are plenty of ways to decorate your dorm room on a budget. We came up with 7 ideas to help you get your creative gears working!

1. Frilly Doormat or Rug

Do you have a bunch of old t-shirts sitting in the corner of your closet that you’ve been wanting to donate or throw away completely? Did you know you could use those t-shirts to spice up your dorm room? You can either make a door mat or a rug with them! All you need are your t-shirts, a cheap doormat as a base and some hot glue!

Simply cut your t-shirts into long strips and put knots near one end of each. Then glue them with the knot-end down in rows along the mat. Voila! You have a new and trendy looking doormat or rug for your dorm.

Material Costs:

  • (5-10) T-shirts:  $0
  • Doormat base:  As cheap as $5 (at Walmart)
  • Hot glue & hot glue gun:  Around $7 (at Walmart)

TOTAL:  $12

2. Wooden Jewelry Display Boxes

If you have a lot of jewelry and are tired of keeping it in a box where it gets all tangled together, then a wooden jewelry display box is for you! You don’t have to go out to the store and buy one, you can simply make one yourself. Get a wooden crate for the base, old spools of thread to hang jewelry on, hot glue, spray paint and Command hooks or nails and you’re set to go!



If you don’t know where to look for a wooden crate, try your local grocery store. Ask the customer service desk if they have any wooden crates from the shipment packaging of products. They’re just going to throw them away, so why not put them to good use. You won’t have to pay for the crate, you’ll get it for free!

Ask your mom, grandma, or someone that likes to sew for old spools of thread—Command hooks will work just as well! If you use the hooks to hang up your crate, make sure you get heavy duty ones. You can also use nails to hang the crate up.

Spray paint your creation the color of your choice, place the hooks on and your jewelry display box is complete!

Material costs:

  • Wooden crate:  $0
  • Spools of Thread:  $0
  • Hot glue & hot glue gun:  Around $7 (at Walmart)
  • Command hooks or nails:  Varies ($3 to $12 on Amazon/online)
  • Spray paint:  As cheap as $3 (at Michael’s and Walmart)

TOTAL:  $13 to $22

3. Metal Nightstand

Dorm rooms have a limited amount of space. If you need a small nightstand to put a lamp on or to place to rest your charging phone at night, then don’t pay for a $100 piece of furniture! Find a cheap, metal wastebasket and flip it upside down. The flat surface on the wastebasket’s bottom acts just as well as a nightstand. If you want to spice it up a bit, you can spray paint it!

Material Costs:

  • Wastebasket:  $7 (at Walmart)
  • [Spray paint:  As cheap as $3 (at Michael’s and Walmart)]

TOTAL:  $7 to $10

4. Chip Clip Picture Frames

Picture frames seem so trivial, but they can be super expensive! When you get to your dorm room, you’ll want to hang up pictures of family and friends to keep you from feeling homesick. Instead of wasting a lot of money by buying picture frames or from having no flair by taping pictures on the wall, use chip clips to hang up your pictures!

Find chip clips with holes in the handles that will allow you to hang up the clips on nails or Command hooks and you’re done!

Material costs:

  • Chip clips:  $3 (2-pack at Bed Bath & Beyond)
  • [Command hooks or nails:  Varies ($3 to $12 on Amazon/online)]

TOTAL:  $6 to $15

5. Tea Can Organizers

Flashy pencil holders can also be expensive even though you’re basically just getting a storage cylinder! Look rustic and tell the story about your tastes by using old, metal packaging from tea or hot chocolate! For example, you can get a tin of Hershey’s hot chocolate or you can get varying types of tea in metal containers for cheap. Simply use the hot chocolate or tea and then use the container to store pens, pencils, school supplies or even make-up! These tins give you the option to showcase your personality in a cool way.

Material costs:

  • Hot chocolate or tea tin:  $4 to $10 (at Walmart or local grocery stores)

TOTAL:  $4 to $10

6. Curtains of Scarves

Do you have a scarf that doesn’t match an outfit or is too itchy to wear, but you still love? No problem! Gather up a couple of your old scarves and use them as curtains in your dorm! Your scarves are already paid for and you won’t have to pay $100 for new curtains. Just hang them on the tops of your windows and now you have a stylish-looking dorm room.

Material costs:

  • Old scarves:  $0
  • [Command hooks or nails:  Varies ($3 to $12 on Amazon/online)]

TOTAL:  $0 to $12

7. Ottomans Doubling as Chairs

You don’t have a lot of space to work with in your dorm room, so make sure you get versatile furniture! One example is using ottomans as chairs. Kick back and relax with your feet propped up on these while you sit on a couch or futon. You can also sit at your desk on these to do homework! Prices vary on ottomans, but instead of getting chairs AND ottomans for your dorm room, you only need the ottomans!

Material costs:

  • Ottoman:  $10 to $20 (online or at any home-goods store)

TOTAL:  $10 to $20

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