Give your dorm room a makeover

Transform a boring old room into your personalized space!

Give your dorm room a makeover

Dorm room decorating

Your new home away from home, your dorm room, will be equipped with a bed, desk and chair, chest of drawers and closet. But, it won’t have a lot of personality. That means you can make your dorm room a place you will love to spend time in and where everyone on your hall wants to hang out! As you reflect on what you might need to decorate your dorm, dollar signs might be flashing before your eyes, but it is possible to do it on a budget!

In fact, interior designer Merri Cvetan has decorated dorm rooms completely with items she has found at secondhand stores like Goodwill.


Here are some of her tips for decorating on a budget:

  • Start with a color scheme. Cvetan always starts in the linen department of Goodwill to find a bedspread or duvet cover. “This will determine the color scheme,” she says. “Then, it will be much easier to find coordinating accessories.”

  • Make sure that everything you purchase is still in good condition and washable. Sheets for your bed might be one thing you should consider buying new.


Think artsy

You won’t have a lot of floor space, but you will have plenty of blank wall space, so take advantage of it! Using posters is an easy and inexpensive way to add color and personality to your dorm.

  • offers one of the largest selections of posters on the Internet, from movie posters to prints of artwork, starting under $10. You can also create your own poster designs.

  • If you want to display photos of your friends and family in a cool way, CVS allows you to create a collage poster (starting at $11.99), and other items by uploading your photos at the CVS photo center online ( or at an in-store kiosk.

  • Cathy Hobbs, celebrity designer, also has the following suggestion: “While it may be unrealistic to paint walls, removable stickers are a wonderful and extremely decorative option. There are numerous patterns, graphics and colors galore!”

Coordinate your space

After you pick a bedspread, coordinate your other items by keeping them neutral or in the same color scheme.

  • “Pick out some fun throw rugs that will jazz up your room,” Hobbs says. “Also, you can find inexpensive bath mats in all kinds of colors and patterns.”

  • If your walls have corkboards, cover them with sample wallpaper pieces or an inexpensive piece of fabric to have a fun surface for posting pictures, your calendar and other items.

  • Pick up some extra sheets or scarves that match with your color scheme. They can be used to hang on walls, cover a mismatched table or chairs and as curtains.

  • Buy a funky collapsible chair or two to create a seating area in your dorm in sight of your TV. Add throw pillows, a lamp and a small table or container covered with a piece of fabric and you are all set to entertain!

Tips to remember    

  • In the tight space of a college dorm room, one of your best allies is organization. Find baskets, plastic containers and desk and closet organizers to keep everything organized and easy to find. Feng Shui consultant Tess Whitehurst says, “keeping your room as clutter-free as possible will help you psychologically to feel clear, awake and alert while you’re studying.” It will also make your room more appealing to visitors.

  • Art doesn’t have to be confined to the wall! Bring your own creativity into the room with some DIY projects. Make your own throw pillows, decorate a plain lampshade to match your room or make your own photo collage or scrapbook with memories from home. 

Sara Rowe is a freelance writer published in various publications for teens and preteens.


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