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33 Budget-Friendly Dorm Room Ideas for the Best School Year Yet

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If you’re starting college this year and you’re looking for dorm room ideas, you’ve come to the right place.

Decorating a dorm room is not always easy since they tend to be small. But it’s important to make your living space comfortable considering that’s where you’ll spend much of your time. Plus, decorating your dorm room can be a fun activity to help you relax as you get used to this new chapter in your life.

While decorating a dorm room is exciting, it can get pricey — but it shouldn’t cost you as much as your student loan. We’ve rounded up the best budget-friendly college dorm room ideas to help inspire you this semester.

1. Make Your Door Exciting

Your door is the first thing you and your friends will see when entering your dorm room. The vibe of your dorm will start with the door, so make sure to personalize it with fun decor. Start by using a photo door banner. You can get a fun Luau face photo door banner for about $10!

If a photo door banner is a bit too much for your taste, you can go with a more classic welcome sign. This will make your dorm room welcoming all year round, and will also show that you care about your guests and your dorm room feel.

2. Use a Door Hanger

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Looking for cheaper ways to embellish and accessorize your dorm room’s door? Let’s get down to basics — door hangers. You can purchase a two-pack door hanger for about $7.

If you prefer not to pay for your door hanger, you can download and print these ones for free. Print them out on heavy paper like cardstock, cut along the dashed lines and hang them on your doorknob while you’re studying or sleeping.

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3. Choose Seasonal Decorations

To get into the holiday spirit, you can put up seasonal decorations like a Christmas wreath. These can cost you between $20 and $40, depending on the size and type you need. It’s a simple but effective way to add a holiday vibe to your dorm room when you’re away from home.

You can get 80-piece Christmas window sticker decals for $7 or an 8-sheet Christmas window clings pack for the same price. The main difference is that decals are made of a stronger adhesive material which makes them stick for a longer time, while clings are repositionable and less sticky. If you like the idea of fun lights in your dorm room, you can also try a whimsical Santa Claus rope light. Before Halloween approaches, be sure to check our to receive up to 5% back.

4. Decorate With Artwork

If you’re looking for a creative way to decorate your dorm room’s walls, consider hanging wall art. For example, you can buy a three-panel canvas with an amazing view for about $20. If you’re a creative person, you can make wall art yourself, which could also help you do something fun and relieve stress during the process of decorating your dorm room.

Start by getting a canvas (you can buy a 12-pack for less than $10) and paint (an acrylic color pack is about $15).

5. Try Temporary Art

You might like creating artwork but you probably won’t have enough space to keep it in your dorm room — solve this problem by creating temporary art. A buddha board will help you and your guests relax. You’ll just use a bamboo brush and water to paint on it.

Your drawings will go away after 10 minutes, so make sure you enjoy them while they last. You can buy a regular-size buddha board for about $20, but if you want to spend less, try a mini buddha board ($10 if you use our discount).

6. Create a Photo Wall

Starting college is exciting, but you’ll most likely miss many of the people you’re used to seeing every day. Creating a photo wall will help you decorate your dorm room and feel closer to the people you care about. Start by adding photos of you and your family and friends from home. As you make new friends, you can start adding photos of your new memories.

7. Frame Your Memories

Framing photos is one of the most simple ways to decorate your dorm room, while also adding personality, and you don’t need anything fancy. If you’re on a tight budget, you can get a basic frame for less than $2. Remember that the photos themselves are the most important part!

8. Personalize Your Dorm Room

Your photo wall, artwork and frames don’t have to be boring. Try to personalize them and make them interesting and funny! A great way to do this is by purchasing peel-and-stick numbers and letters for less than $2.

If you want to decorate your room and show your personality, you can use simple stickers of any kind. You might not be able to add them to your wall, but you can stick them to any of your items like furniture or storage boxes. You can purchase a sticker variety pack with more than 100 pieces for about $5.

9. Choose a Theme

Choose a theme for your dorm room that expresses your personality. You can start by choosing your favorite colors for your bed sheets, furniture and other items. If you’re a music lover, you can hang posters and records of your favorite artists. If you’re a sports fan, personalize your decor with the colors of your favorite team.

This is also an opportunity to do something different from your room at home and experiment with your changing interests. If you get along with your roommate, you can choose complementary colors to create a cohesive living space.

10. Make a Boho Dorm Room

If you want to create a boho dorm room environment, you can use hanging ornaments and decorative garlands. There are many options you can go with, like this handmade tree of life ornament and this moon phase wall hanging garland. You can hang these on your wall, shelves, mirror, window or anywhere else to give your dorm room a bohemian vibe.

11. Set Up Separate Areas

When living in a dorm room, it can be difficult to separate your school life from your personal one. Research shows that disorganization and too much clutter affect our brains negatively and the environment we live in greatly influences our emotions and behaviors. Studying, eating and sleeping in the same space can create anxiety and stress.

If possible, try to separate your study space, sleeping area and kitchen into their own areas. Start by positioning your bed so you can’t see your work area while you’re resting or sleeping. If your dorm room is overloaded with furniture, consider removing some of it to have extra space.

12. Build a Study Area

Your dorm room should be fun and interesting, but it also has to work as a study space where you can focus unless you want to spend every day in the campus library. First, think about the layout of your dorm room. If you’re used to studying near a window, you can replicate that in your dorm room — but try to avoid it if you’re easily distracted. To help you stay organized, avoid keeping too much clutter on your desk and focus only on the items you need to study.

13. Maximize Storage Space

To make the most out of your dorm room’s space, use under-bed storage. If you need containers and other storage supplies, use these to save some money or browse through our section to find the best deals! Prices vary depending on the size and how many you need, but you can find some containers for less than $3.

14. Hang Your Storage

As mentioned above, you should take advantage of the space in your dorm room to add decorative elements. When it comes to your windows, consider trying suction cup shelves that you can find for less than $30. If you’re a plant lover, you can create a small indoor garden where your plants will get plenty of light.

Are you passionate about cooking? You can use it to store herbs, spices or cooking utensils. Or you can even just use these window shelves for books, cosmetics, toiletries and more.

15. Optimize Your Space

Shelves don’t have to be boring. Use open shelves in your dorm room to easily organize all your items like books and photos. You can get a simple yet stylish and functional three-tier open shelf for about $20.

To decorate a small room, you need to maximize every space. For about $25, you can get decorative and functional corner shelves where you can store books, magazines, frames and more. You can also use hanging shelves to make your room functional but interesting.

16. Keep Your Items Organized

If you have a lot of kitchen utensils, you can use a bamboo expandable drawer to keep them organized while adding a touch of natural style. If you have jewelry, use a hanging jewelry organizer to add a functional yet decorative item to your dorm room. A simple jewelry organizer will cost you about $10. Finally, if you have makeup tools and gadgets, you can get a simple cosmetics organizer for about $15.

17. Sort Out Your Shoes

Do you have a lot of shoes and not a ton of space in your dorm room? We suggest you get a simple yet functional hanging shoe organizer. You can find one for less than $10.

18. Store Food Items Creatively

Often focusing too much on furniture and decorations, many students forget to think about where they will store their food. You likely will have a communal dining hall and not your own kitchen, but there are some pantry essentials, snacks and drinks you should always keep in your dorm room. You can use a hanging shoe organizer, simple shelves or a movable cart for storage

19. Make More Space Using Mirrors

When decorating a small space like a dorm room, make the most out of what you have. Start by placing mirrors strategically. Mirrors reflect light, making our eyes think there’s more space. For best results, place your mirrors in the opposite direction of your windows. A mirror is also a decorative item, and it will be useful as you quickly check your outfit before heading to class.

20. Keep Track of Important Items

To keep track of important dates and notes like your shopping list or class schedule, you can use a simple pinboard. Most cheap pinboards are monotonous, but you can get a fun peel-and-stick world map for a little over $20. If you’re a visual learner, consider purchasing a whiteboard that you can use for studying but also to keep track of your schedule, tasks and more.

You can get a dry erase whiteboard for less than $15. Hang the whiteboard on your wall and add decorations like stickers or photos to add color to your dorm room. If the space in your dorm room is limited but you have room on your wall, consider a self-adhesive whiteboard wall sticker with three dry erase markers included for less than $13.

21. Put Together DIY Curtains

Your dorm room may come with curtains, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep them. To add a pop of color or a bit of personality to your dorm aesthetic, consider creating your own DIY curtains. You can easily make budget-friendly DIY curtains using fabric fuse tape (for less than $5), large swathes of fabric and some creativity!

22. Decorate Your Walls

When decorating your dorm room’s walls, be careful not to make any holes by using removable wallpaper. It’s easy to use, and you can even reuse it after moving out if you save the paper backing. You can get a simple yet fun peel-and-stick wallpaper for about $6, or you can go with a high-quality wallpaper with motivational phrases for a bit over $20.

Tapestry is another way to customize your dorm room’s walls. To avoid ruining your walls, consider using a wall adhesive to hang the tapestry. You can get an Indian mandala bohemian-style tapestry for about $8, or to find the best deals for the design you like.

23. Hang a Calendar

You might think physical calendars are obsolete if you use online calendars like Google Calendar, but a physical calendar is a visual reminder of the most important tasks you need to accomplish each day, and it’s useful for smaller tasks like planning meals. Not only that, but it can also help you decorate your dorm room in a personalized way.

24. Add a Habit Tracker

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Hang a habit tracker to measure whether you can stick to a good habit, like eating enough fruit, avoiding junk food and waking up on time. Simply download and print our 30-day habit tracker and hang it on your wall to keep track of any positive habit you want to start. Label it with the name of your habit and put a check mark for every successful day.

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25. Display Your Room Rules

If you’ve set specific rules for your dorm room and you want your guests to know them, be sure to hang them on your room’s door entrance. You can include things like hours you don’t want to be disturbed and anything else your friends should be aware of before entering your room.

26. Mirror Elements of Your Home

As you start college, you will probably start missing home. That’s a normal feeling, and fortunately, there are some things you can do about it. Start by organizing your room to create an environment that reminds you of your home, including the layout of your room, the colors and the furniture. You can also print and hang pictures of your loved ones.

Whether it’s on a photo wall, a pinboard or simple frames, hanging photos of your friends and family will liven up your dorm room and remind you of all the people who love you.

27. Add Plants and Greenery

If you want to purify the air in your dorm room and also add some life, consider plants — they can boost your mood and concentration, and even help reduce stress and fatigue. There are many options when it comes to choosing plants. Check out our and Plants.com coupons, promo codes and discounts to save on greenery for your dorm room.

Many students would like plants in their dorm room but understand that they can be needy — you need to give them sunlight, water and even trim them. An easy solution is buying fake plants that don’t need any attention, but still add a nice touch of greenery to your space. You can get a fake plant for less than $4, or you can go with a 24-pack fake ivy for less than $20.

28. Frame Your Windows

If your dorm room is really small, take advantage of every space to add decorations and make the room more interesting. One of these spaces is windows, which you can embellish with decorative window film for less than $9. Other budget-friendly creative ways to embellish your windows are displaying glass bottles in front of your window, using lace tablecloth as a window covering and placing real or fake hanging ivy.

29. Increase Your Privacy

Privacy window film is the simplest way to make your dorm room more private. You can find window films starting at about $7. They provide privacy but also allow light in, so they’re perfect to replace heavy curtains. If you don’t like the idea of using window film to add privacy, consider using a pelmet.

Window valances will cover the uppermost part of your window and help to add color, texture, pattern and depth to your dorm room. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, colors and styles, and you can find simple ones starting at about $5. Alternatively, consider buying or making your own bamboo Roman shades or stained glass. If you have a shared room, you can use a simple privacy screen to create your personal space.

30. Brighten Up Your Room

Many dorm rooms tend to be dark, even during the day (especially if you don’t have large windows). Start by including natural lighting to improve your mental health. During the day, you can open up your curtains as much as possible and, if your dorm room doesn’t get enough sunlight, we suggest getting some natural light bulbs.

Quality lighting and layout are dorm room must-haves that will keep you happy during the day and motivated to study at night. If you’re used to sleeping with enough light to see outlines of your room without disturbing your sleep, consider getting a night lamp.

If you choose a fun one, like this Himalayan glow natural pink salt lamp for about $12, a night lamp will also embellish your dorm room. Alternatively, you can get curtain lights or a simple LED TV backlight for less than $20.

31. Make Your Dorm Room Cozy

Adding furniture, colorful decorations and functional items to your dorm room is important, but try making it cozy too. For example, if you’re looking for decor and comfortability, what’s better than a saucer chair? This faux fur saucer chair is a great way to welcome guests for less than $40!

You might be used to having a rug in your room, or you might just like the idea of adding a pop of color to your dorm room. Large rugs can get expensive, but fortunately, you can find small area rugs for as little as $25.

32. Use Pillows to Show Personality

Pillows are necessary for sleep, but they don’t have to be boring. They can be the best decoration to refresh your dorm room and add coziness. Go with a pizza pillow or a taco pillow, depending on your taste, to give your dorm room a playful vibe.

33. Stay Motivated

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Looking for an item that will decorate your dorm room but also keep you motivated every day? The solution is easy and even cheap: You can buy a motivational poster for about $10.

If you like the idea of a motivational poster but you don’t want to spend a dime on it, we’ve got you covered. We created a printable motivational poster you can just print and hang on your wall. If you want your poster to last for a long time, make sure you use gloss or silk paper (if you want to also write on it).

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As you start college, it’s important you plan correctly and come prepared with all of the s. Decorating your dorm room doesn’t have to be expensive. If you take advantage of free resources, discounts, our dorm decor ideas and use your creativity, you can make your dorm room look and feel like home.

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