Decorating Your Dorm Room on a Dime

Moving away from home to attend college can be difficult enough; but add a tiny two-person dorm or apartment to the mix and you may be feeling like you don’t have a place that’s all your own. We totally get it, we understand the importance of creating a space that speaks your style!

You don’t have to break the bank to keep your tiny interior up to date. With some affordable additions and DIY tweaks, you can curate a cost-friendly ode to your design style and make the shared space feel like yours again.

String Lights

Incorporate a whimsical touch into your small space with battery-operated fairy lights or plug-in string lights. Plenty of sites offer affordable fairy lights that you can leave on all day for a dreamy scene, and they are lightweight enough to hang up with minimal effort as well as minimum damage to the walls. String lights are pricier and usually need to be plugged into an outlet, but the right set of filament bulbs can really contribute to the feng shui of your dorm.

Arrange the lights to your liking and weave them up and down vertically against the wall, or drape them across your desk or bedframe to avoid using the wall or ceiling altogether.



Elevate and elongate your tiny room with a floor-length or wall mirror. Adding a mirror to any area will make it appear larger, and having a personal mirror in your room will help avoid a trip to the shared restroom each time you need to check your reflection.

An empty corner is the best place to strategically place your floor-length mirror so it can bounce light from all angles of your dorm and create the illusion of a grander, more open space. Or, place a large painted-frame mirror over or on top of your desk to transform your study space into a part-time vanity for an easy morning routine. You can find affordable mirrors at second-hand shops, or even at Walmart for less than $10.

Tapestries or Macrame

Got a taste for eclectic flair? Embrace bohemian living with woven macrame hangings or printed tapestries. Either of these make a great statement pieces, and they can be relatively cost-friendly at your local off-price department store like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Ross.

Hang your tapestry above your bed as a canopy to harness the ultimate boho vibes, or use it as a room divider to implement some privacy in your quarters if you feel like you could use a little more “me time.”

Framed Graphics or Record Albums

Debut your flavor for the classics or cool art as eclectic dorm décor. Got an impressive record collection? Rather than tuck your vinyl out of sight, take one or two of your favorites with the best cover art and pin them up to entertain some of the blank wall space in your room.

Not a music buff? Print graphics at your university or local print shop for a low cost, and frame them as wall art. If your campus housing has a strict no-hole policy for hanging décor, simply showcase your framed prints as a backdrop on your desk, and lean it against the wall to avoid the use of push-pins or nails.


Whether you display a string of faux ivy above your bed or hit up your local plant shop for potted pothos, implementing some leafy décor that fits your personality atop your desk, shelves, or bathroom counter can instantly dress up your space.

Most universities have horticulture study wings, where you can gain some inspiration for which plant you want next. Some even have designated plant shops where you can purchase pretty greens cared for by the horticulture students at a lower price than you’d find them elsewhere. If faux plants are more your vibe, strings of ivy leaves are easy to come by and relatively affordable across the web for an easy, green display.

Pro tip: the easiest plants to care for during a busy semester are pothos, succulents, snake plants, and any variation of ivy. Popular plants like ferns, fiddle leaf fig plants, and rubber leaf plants tend to be a little more high-maintenance and might be too finicky to display in your dorm without enough time to give them proper care.

Thrifted Treasures

Tired of seeing decked-out dorm rooms online without a dime to spend on cute décor? You’d be surprised at how many home good goodies you’d find at any thrift shop. While thrifting home décor can often be a hit or miss experience, plenty of thrift shops, especially those in college towns, have a great selection of dishes, bedding, shower curtains, or décor on any given day.

If you’re lucky, you might even find some trendy rattan pieces, cool vases, or unique wall art. You can find conventional items there as well, like ironing boards and irons, desk chairs, and even TVs so you can easily elevate your college living experience without breaking the bank!


DIY Décor

Keeping up with the latest interior trends is totally doable on a college budget with the right materials, a helpful tutorial, and some thrifted décor. Search anything from “DIY plant holder” to “DIY textured vase” on Pinterest for step-by-step guides that will help you embrace contemporary décor, all for the cost of some twine or craft paint.

Upcycle some of your thrift finds into modern pieces of art, or keep an eye out during your next second-hand shop hunt for pieces and materials that you can get crafty with.

Photo Collage

Nothing portrays your personality like plastering your friends’ and family’s faces across your wall. Use one-sided tape or printed Washi tape to hang up photos in a collage above your bed. Avoid double-sided tape or using too many thumb tacks, as both of these can damage the drywall and cost you in repairs when it’s time to move out.

If a photo collage is too chaotic for your taste, find an inexpensive photo board or magnetic dry-erase board to arrange memorabilia, Polaroids, or graphic prints.  


How do you embrace the essence of all things you in your dorm room? Tag @walkeredisonco on social media to show us some of the cost-friendly ways you bring your small space to life this semester!