College is starting and it’s time to move into the dorm. But wait! You spent so much money on tuition, a new laptop, and the college wardrobe… there’s only a shoestring budget left for decorating the dorm. Fortunately, with a few creative steps, you can transform the dorm from dull to decked-out.

Walls. Begin the project with a splash of paint. A little color goes a long way when it comes to making a small space feel warm and friendly. Even just painting one wall will really help to bring together the color scheme that you’re going for. Dorms don’t last forever so look for cheaper paints, which can be found at Lowe’s or Walmart.

Windows. Check out Target, Ross or Marshall’s for inexpensive curtain sets or if you know basic sewing skills, try making your own. You can choose from a variety of colors, textures and patterns at any local fabric store and often can get yards of fabric for a good price. Don’t forget to look at their clearance fabrics or bring along coupons. Joann’s Fabric and Crafts often offers coupons for 40-50% off of fabric.  Curtains are simple or can be inexpensive to buy but they add coziness to your room.

Bed. You may consider getting the bedding first and matching everything else in the room to the bed set. Why? Two reasons. First, the bed is the largest furniture item in the room so no matter what, it will make a statement. Two, bedding can be expensive. To cut back on that expense, try to get a bed-in-a-bag at a low price. These can again be found at Target, Ross or Marshall’s. However there is only so much selection, so find a style you like and plan the rest of your décor to match this central piece.

Furniture. The best place to get inexpensive furniture is second hand. Check out garage sales, Craigslist, or local thrift stores to find dressers, chairs and desks. You can easily find pieces of furniture for under $20 at these locations. Then pull out the paint and give each piece a fresh coat to personalize it and to fit the decorating scheme.

Art. Now it’s time to add the finishing touches. Everything looks great except the bare walls. Purchasing artwork can be expensive and difficult to find something that’s just right. Here are some easy and inexpensive solutions. Go to a thrift store or garage sale and buy any frame that is the size you are looking for. Cover this with fabric in fun colors and patterns. Hang these on the wall for an easy pop of color. Here’s an example of a fabric covered frame. Another idea is to get colorful scrapbooking paper and frame a few different sheets. See this blog for photo examples and a how-to.

If you are stumped on how it will all come together or what color scheme to go with, try looking up pictures of dorm décor or color schemes on the internet. When you find some ideas you like, use the money-saving strategies discussed above to make your own version of the examples you found. Here’s one website with colorful dorm rooms to get you started.

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