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How to Decorate Your Dorm Room on a Budget

Your dorm room is your home away from home. It is also the first space you get that is entirely your own, away from parents and family. When you study abroad, your dorm room gives you both safety and independence. But dorms can also be pretty cold and dull in their sameness and minimalism. The furniture is usually sparse and utilitarian and space is constrained. This can make your room feel alienating and depressing – which is really not what you want when you’re new to college. 

So how do you primp up your dorm room on a college student’s budget? Well, lucky for you, we’re here to help. 

Image by Marcus Loke on Unsplash

1. Check Second Hand Goods Marketplaces

The first thing you should do when looking for items to decorate your dorm room is check for second-hand goods. You can usually find these online on sites like eBay. You can also visit a nearby flea market or thrift store for cheap, second hand decor items.

Additionally, living on a college campus means you will always find graduating students who are moving out and selling their possessions. Keep an eye out on social media pages and online groups and forums associated with your college for such advertisements. 

Second hand goods are a good place to start for decor. They are cheap and usually not fancy enough for you to form an attachment. Remember that as a college student, especially when you study abroad, you will be moving around a lot. You may change dorm rooms several times, you may also move out of student housing altogether. Therefore, it does not make sense to buy expensive or delicate items that can get lost or break during moves.

2. Start Crafting!

If you have an artistic flair, there has been no better time to use it. Hand crafted decor pieces not only make your room come to life, they give it a cozy, homey feel. Hand made pieces also give a unique and personalised touch to your room that mass produced, manufactured decor lacks. 

Image by Ben Ashby on Unsplash

Crafting items for your room can also be a fun project that you can use as a bonding exercise. It can help you have some fun and connect with your new roommates and friends. You can also undertake some crafting projects at home before you come to college and have some bonding time with family and friends. You studying abroad can be hard on your family and friends back home. This can give you some time to connect with them before you leave.

Your hand crafted decor does not have to be too fancy or complicated. Upcycle common items like glass bottles and gift boxes into vases, lamps or storage boxes. You can easily find DIY decor tutorials on YouTube and Pinterest. Making decor using upcycled items is not only cost-effective, but it is also eco friendly and sustainable.

3. Bring a Touch of Home

If you study abroad, you may want to bring a touch of home with you to your college dorm. This can be as simple as photographs, polaroids and postcards from back home. You can also ask your parents to help you pick out some items from in and around your home that you may have some special connection with.

Image by Vladyslav Dukhin on Pexels

Studying abroad can become quite lonely and alienating at times. You find yourself in a foreign country with an entirely different culture, entirely different people, lifestyles, etc. Nothing is the same and it can be difficult fitting in at first. Having items, photographs and other memories from back home can help temper the culture shock a little. These items can help ground you and make you feel less lonely and disconnected. Having a connection to home is always a reassuring thing when you study abroad.

4. Invest in Bed Linens

Dorm rooms are often quite tiny. There isn’t a lot of space for too many decor items or knick knacks. Usually, your bed is the largest and most significant piece of furniture in your room. It makes sense then, that you should focus primarily on the one item that takes up the most space in your room. 

Invest in bed linen that is both attractive as well as practical. Being able to get a good night’s sleep is very important for a college student on tight stressful schedules. Your bed will inevitably become not only your sleeping space but also your chilling out space and, sometimes even your workspace. So, getting comfortable and pretty bed linens and throw-pillows not only helps you feel more comfortable, it makes you feel better.

5. Get Houseplants

Houseplants are a great, cost-effective way of adding freshness and greenery to your room. You don’t need to buy a lot of houseplants or planters at once. You can always buy a few easy to take care of plants initially and propagate new ones from them once they have grown a bit.

Image by Prudence Earl on Unsplash

Houseplants are not just decor items, they are also useful in teaching you a sense of responsibility. A plant is a living, breathing organism that needs care and attention to thrive. Taking care of a plant involves being constantly aware of its every need. You need to make sure it is getting enough sunlight to grow but not burn. You also need to make sure you are watering it properly and adding fertilisers and nutrients in the soil when necessary. 

When you go to study abroad, you start learning how to take care of yourself, doing your own chores, errands and budgeting. Getting a plant can teach you how to be responsible and take care of someone other than yourself. 

Houseplants are a wonderfully fresh addition to your room, providing both green beauty and fresh oxygen. They also help you become a better, more responsible human being.

Key Takeaway

Moving into your first dorm room is an exciting time. You have a whole new canvas and a whole new space to make your own. There is no reason to not take full advantage of this opportunity to unleash your creative power. Decorating your new dorm room lets you express your individuality and taste which can be a thrilling new experience for a young adult. 

There is no reason, however, for this experience to be a solitary one. In fact, you should make every effort possible to turn this into an opportunity for bonding and creating memories with friends – new and old. This not only makes decorating your room a more fulfilling venture, but it also helps you build connections that make studying abroad worth it!

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