Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

When we were incoming freshmen, the thing we were most excited about was decorating our dorms.  Almost immediately, however, we came to realize that most of the décor in dorm room tours on YouTube and popular college student geared companies were insanely expensive. Stores like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Society 6 and more tailor a lot of their home décor to college students and the popular styles of the day—  but as we all know, they cost an arm and a leg.

Having a blank space to make your own opens up a variety of opportunities to express yourself; but to what cost to your wallet? Is there a way to have a space that is cute and functional and doesn’t break the bank? As two broke college students ourselves, we have found a variety of places to get low cost, on-trend decorations as well as DIY options without breaking the bank.


Everyone loves pictures and physical, printed pictures. They are a great way to decorate your space with your favorite memories of people you love. To print out pictures from a normal photo service is generally inexpensive, but the cheapest and easiest way by far I found was an app called GrooveBook. Through the app, for $3.99 a month, you can print out 100, 4×6 pictures from your camera roll in a tear-out style photo book. Each month is a different patterned book as well as an easy and creative way to cover your space in pictures or gallery walls while having some left over for photo albums or to give to your friends.

Organization and Space Saving

Maximizing space is key for a dorm room. If your bedroom comes with drawers provided by the university, put them under your bed for an “out of the way” storage option. Another tip is that you can put your mini-fridge, microwave and dry food under your bed as well to make your own (as I like to call it) “kitchenette.” I have used this tip to maximize space in my dorm room for the past two years, and it never fails to make a space feel bigger and more inviting! Also, make sure to take advantage of your closet and optimize space. If your drawers can’t fit all of your clothes, head to Ikea or Target, then check out their inexpensive closet organization options. Things like over the door shoe organizers, cloth bins for clothes storage and hanging clothes organizers will be your best friend in a space as small as a dorm room.

Five Below

Five Below is a goods and apparel store that — you guessed it — has everything priced at five dollars or below. As a less than 15-minute drive from campus and with more options and higher quality than your typical dollar store —  this is a great place for cute room décor on a budget. I got many of my dorm room staples here: string lights, throw pillows, carpets, wall hangings and much more all for under $5. You can easily walk out of there with five to 10 décor items for less than $40 — which, in my opinion, is a steal when, at Urban Outfitters, you can get the same style of things for about four times the price.

DIY Headboard

If you’re looking to make your bed cozier — a headboard is a good option. Don’t waste your money and buy one; DIY is easier than you think. Start by buying a large poster board, fabric of your choice and a hot glue gun or E600 glue; all of which you can easily buy from an arts and craft store. Once you have all of your products, start by cutting your poster board into the headboard shape you want. Next, lay your fabric on top of the board and cut a shape that matches your poster board — remembering to leave the extra fabric to glue to the back. Lay your fabric, pattern side down, and lay your poster board on top, pull the extra fabric that is peeking out from the sides and hot glue it to the back of your board. Do this until all the fabric is glued down and flush tight against your board. This D.I.Y poster board should cost only about $20 to make compared to the $125 for a premade one and is a super cute way to spice up a boring dorm room bed.

Madison Ogborn is a third-year communications studies major minoring in journalism and Spanish.

Lauren Fitting is a second-year student majoring in English literature.

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