Dorm Decorating on a Budget

PUC students study in McReynolds Hall.

PUC students study in McReynolds Hall.

By Andrea James

Save money where you can and still get a stylish, functional dorm room!

Tip #1. Shop at thrift and dollar stores for supplies.

Dollar stores are a college student’s best friend. At my local one, I found:

  • Christmas lights
  • Picture frames
  • Mirrors
  • Mounting supplies, such as self-adhesive hooks
  • Fake flowers
  • Vases and jars
  • Etc. (I also found a lot the things on my packing list FYI)

Tip # 2: Look for deals aimed specifically at students or college freshmen.

Some stores will offer free shipping, free store pick-up, various discounts, etc. However, only buy what you need. Don’t get dazzled by 20 percent off signs and end up buying five fuzzy blankets and 10 rolls of washi tape. Although these things are great and can be useful, you will likely not need that many. Make a list and stick to it!

Tip #3. Print Instagram photos to decorate your walls, shelves, and/or desk.

There are many apps and websites where you can get prints of your photos for cheap, or even free. A few options include:

  • Shutterfly Get 50 free 4×6 prints for first-time customers. If you download the free mobile app, you get 100 free 4×6 prints.
  • Snapfish First-time customers can get 50 free 4×6 photos and very low rates on basic prints.
  • Costco Photo Center Pick up your prints and tick items off your to-buy list in one trip.
  • FreePrints Only pay shipping costs for 4×6 prints, although there are limitations on the number such as only one print per photo and only a certain number of prints a year.
  • PostalPix Print four-inch squares from your Instagram library for only 33 cents each (other sizes also available).

Tip #4. Use sticky notes (available at the aforementioned dollar stores) to cover bland white walls with colorful creativity!

Some ideas:

  • Make a motivation wall with quotes, affirmations, and goals.
  • Create a calendar to keep track of important dates and when assignments are due.
  • Post-it to-do lists make it easy to add and remove tasks.
  • Postit pixel art requires a little planning out on graph paper (unless you use patterns), but is easy to do and will impress all your friends with your skills.

Or, better yet, come up with your own ideas! Which leads into my last tip:

Tip #5. Get creative! Use whatever supplies you have available and have fun.

Honestly, the last thing college students should be stressed about is decorating their dorm room. Don’t spend so much time on DIY projects and Pinterest boards that you neglect the truly important things, like getting your financial aid worked out and registering for classes. At the same time, it’s nice to sometimes take a break from freaking out about the serious things and design a Post-it note pixel superhero to decorate the area above your desk (since you will be staring at it for most of the time you should be studying) or browse Etsy for the perfect washi tape with which to cover everything. College is a time for learning and studying but it’s also a time for great fun, so take a break and design your perfect dorm room. Then make it a reality, using the above tips, and start the school year with your room as full of joy and creativity as your college experience will soon be!

Take a look at a few of my favorite dorm websites for some inspiration too:

Editor’s note: If you’re an incoming freshman, we hope you’re getting excited about being at PUC this fall! Soon you will receive information about New Student Orientation, including what to pack, but in the meantime, you can also refer to the FAQ section on our website.

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