Cheap and Easy College Recipes: Cranberry Apple Chicken Study Tips: How Future Doctors Study

Drab to Fab: Dorm Decor Basics

February 8th, 2010 admin

Cinderblock getting you down? I can’t say I miss the prison-style walls of my old dorm room, but I did have a great time dressing them up on the cheap, and I’ve still got the room-design bug… I scan the aisles of stores like Ross, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and Marshall’s (the “Big Four” of bargain shopping!) every week scouting out deals (I usually don’t buy anything but I get tons of ideas for DIY projects).

If your dorm room needs some kick and you don’t know where to start, check out these design basics to get you started. And don’t think we’re stuck bargain shopping–it wouldn’t be SCL without some DIY links. 🙂

Lighting is terrible in most dorm rooms, so bring your own to pep up the space. I like to have good strong lighting for study time (“task lighting” like a desk lamp), something a little softer for just hanging out, and something super low (Christmas lights or a low-watt lamp) for relaxing. The light level in your room can be an amazing mood-altering tool, and you can find lamps for as little as $10 at stores like Wal*Mart, Target, or–my all-time dorm fav–Ikea. And (as you will note in the DIY) I am a believer that a little romance can go a long way–DIY a chandelier to hang over your bed (or to give to your girlfriend for Valentine’s day, boys!).

DIY: (But be careful!)

Mirrors are a key element in any dorm room. They throw light around to brighten up sometimes dingy dorm lighting and look amazingly chic (a great stand in for artwork). Plus you get the added bonus of having somewhere to check out your hair. Target has some super cute over-the-door mirrors for $15 (of scrimp a little and opt for their $5 version), or you can thrift around for some (or ask you relatives–who knows what you’ll get).

  • I admit, I am not handy enough to make a mirror… and I don’t know anyone else who is, either. 🙂

Artwork doesn’t have to be expensive!

DIY by grabbing some canvases, paint, and brushes for under $20 at an art store (if your local one has coupons or discount days, wait for those! Our Michael’s does a 40% off one item coupon once a week!). You can even just grab some canvas fabric (a few bucks at a hardware store), a grass mat from the beach, or even some cardboard to paint on. Frame fabric or wrapping paper for a graphic punch. Even easier (and free-er) go old-school and do a photo or magazine collage on your wall.

Not artsy? Shop thrift stores for funky frames and vintage books or album covers (cool + cheap), or scan the Big Four for pre-fab artwork at a big discount.

Bed, couch, study zone: your XL Twin has a lot of functions in such a small space, so dress it to work for all of them. Pile throw pillows on to turn it into a “couch” (day-bed style) during the day, then toss them in the closet and crawl under some fluffy blankets at day’s end.


Inspiration is what keeps me going when I look at my white white white apartment walls. Get your own here:


Add to RSS Feed Add to Technorati Favorites Stumble It! Digg It!

Entry Filed under: dorm room

Subscribe Subscribe in a reader
 Subscribe by Email

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erica  |  February 8th, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    this is great! always looking to find new things as a new grad- writing about how to survive on a limited budget as well- with cute things. great idea 🙂

  • 2. Twin XL  |  February 10th, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I would recommend lofting your bed too if at all possible. I was able to do this and fit my desk under my bed which saved a ton of room.

Leave a Comment


Required, hidden

Surviving College Life is a drama-free zone and reserves the right to remove any inappropriate, spammy, or malicious comments. If you want to critique a post or it's content, we ask that you do so in a helpful way. Also, comments are held for moderation, so they may not appear on the site right away.

Some HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


FREE College Tips E-Newsletter!

Receive a FREE E-Newsletter from Fox College Funding®, with powerful tips on how to avoid paying the full price for college in each issue.

Get FREE Help with the FAFSA!

Share Your Thoughts About SCL

Suggestion Box
Your Post Topic Wishlist



Popular Posts

College Blogs

Recent Posts