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Dorm Room Decorating – Conquer the Budget, Small Space, and Ugly, Standard Furniture!

What are the three biggest con­cerns fac­ing col­lege fresh­men when it comes to set­ting up a dorm room? Work­ing within a bud­get, cop­ing with a small space, and learn­ing how to manip­u­late the stan­dard, ugly dorm room fur­ni­ture.  So, what can you do to a room which you aren’t allowed to paint, with walls you can’t nail objects into, and two-of-a kind beds, dressers and desks? Learn more about how to make your space com­fort­able, bring a lit­tle bit of home with you, and cre­ate stor­age area which is essential.

Quick Tips for Those on a Budget!

  • Can’t paint? Use chalk to draw on the walls – you can erase it later with baby wipes or a dry eraser.
  • Try fab­ric on walls by using corn starch mixed with water. Apply the mix­ture to wall, smooth it out and watch how the fab­ric sticks to it. It’s all nat­ural and comes right off with­out remov­ing paint. This is an easy way to get color and tex­ture in your room.
  • Check your local thrift stores or pick up items at a swap meet.
  • Be sure your fur­ni­ture is mul­ti­func­tional. For exam­ple, a portable stool may dou­ble as an end table.
  • For drapes with­out using screws — use small hooks with adhe­sive that pulls off wall when you are ready to move.
  • Dress up your table or desk with wall paper, wrap­ping paper, or place mats, and cover it with plex­i­glass — this allows you to switch images out and stay fresh.
  • Want a unique bed­spread? Buy a plain white com­forter and use fab­ric paint to design your focal point.
  • Instead of sta­ples use dorm tape to adhere pho­tos to walls or hang a series of clip boards and switch out the pic­tures as events change.
  • Art work – use recy­cled items. Be cre­ative with toi­let paper rolls to design wall artwork.
  • Make unique shelves by screw­ing old draw­ers together and giv­ing them a coat of paint.
  • Dec­o­rate your walls by check­ing out the Dol­lar Stores for cheap frames.
  • Com­mu­ni­cate with your room­mate ahead of time so you don’t bring duplicates.

It ‘s a Small Space!

A lot smaller than what you are use to. So, how do you cope with this?

  • Use items that reflect – mir­rors can make the room look larger.
  • Con­sol­i­date by watch­ing TV on lap­top instead of a large screen.
  • Make a bed a coach when not sleep­ing on it – add a throw blan­ket and some pillows.
  • Orga­nize your space by using bins, shoe trees, and stack stor­age boxes.
  • Buy some bed ris­ers to cre­ate space under your bed or loft-up your bed to cre­ate more space.
  • Try mov­ing the fur­ni­ture around.
  • A rolling cart can dou­ble as a towel rack.
  • Hide clut­ter if you don’t have a closet door by hang­ing a drape that can be pulled closed.
  • Use wall space — go up and out and under to cre­ate space
  • Use small rolling stor­age draw­ers under desk – they can be eas­ily moved.
  • Laun­dry bas­ket or shoe rack that hangs can dou­ble for stor­age units.
  • Keep your col­ors to three– any more will make your space too busy.
  • Layer col­ors at ground, mid, and eye level.

Deal­ing with ugly, stan­dard fur­ni­ture – any suggestions?

  • Want a good night’s sleep? Try adding a pillow-top to your dorm mattress
  • Since all dorms rooms tend to look the same, make it more excit­ing by mak­ing the bed stand out with throw blan­ket and col­or­ful pillows.
  • Buy a vin­tage office chair to replace your stan­dard one.
  • What about a cool rug? If you don’t have a rug, con­sider using floor tiles – they stick together, but not to floor.
  • Try mov­ing your dresser into the closet to give you more space for a fea­tured item, like a com­fort­able chair.
  • Jeff says:

    Dr. Hand, I read a cou­ple of your posts & really like them. I wish I would’ve seen you post about check­ing out schools BEFORE pick­ing one. I would’ve still picked Argosy but, I would’ve been bet­ter pre­pared with my ques­tions! I also enjoyed this one about mak­ing my Dorm Room more like Home! Keep up the good work!

    July 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm
    • Dr. Chris says:

      Thank you, Jeff.!

      July 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm
  • Kourtney says:

    Great arti­cle! Check out for another idea on how to make a blank wall look a lit­tle more lively!

    July 5, 2011 at 5:47 pm
    • Dr. Chris says:

      Thanks, Kourt­ney — and I loved the pho­tos on your site! The roses are a sweet look and really make the room look feminine.

      July 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm

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