Dorm Room Design on a Budget

Caucasian female students unpacking in students room

It’s that time of year again. High school graduates across the country are packing their belongings into boxes and making the drive to the college campus they’ll call home for the next few years. Many of them will spend at least the first year in an on-campus dormitory, sharing a small space with a roommate.

Whether you’re a college student or the parent of one, you’re likely already contemplating how to make that small space a little warmer. Often dorm rooms are equipped with only a couple of beds, a desk, a vanity, and a closet. Often with plain walls and outdated floors and furniture, dorm rooms can easily seem cold and bleak. Here are a few personal touches you can add that will make your dorm room feel more like home.

Area Rugs

Rugs can make a big difference in the look of a room, whether your flooring is tile or carpet. You can find inexpensive dorm room rugs online through sites like Dormco or eBay. You can also shop garage sales, thrift stores, and discount shops to find inexpensive rugs that will look great in a dorm room. Longevity and durability aren’t a primary factor, since many students will change their minds from one year to the next. Some students move into apartments and off-campus housing with friends after logging a year or two in dorms, so the dormitory furnishings bought today only need to last a short period of time.


Paintings and framed portraits may be ideal for decorating a house, but dorm room wall space is often limited. It can even sometimes be made of material like painted brick. Posters can be a much more affordable way to add character to a room without needing to drill holes in the wall. Posters can express a person’s favorite movies or music acts or provide inspirational reminders to help with those long nights of studying. Some campuses have strict rules about wall damage, however, so make sure all wall art is hung in a way that doesn’t damage the paint.

Get Creative

If you’re feeling artistic, turn your dorm decorating task into a creative endeavor. You can gain inspiration from sites like this one, putting together high-quality decorations using inexpensive items you may already have around the house. Best of all, the room will have a unique look, especially when compared to all of the other rooms in the building that have standard dorm room decorations. As you’re choosing projects, consider functionality. This do-it-yourself laundry bag can be great for toting laundry to the shared laundry room, while these creative storage boxes provide a great way to tuck items away when friends come to visit.

Being away from home for the first time can be unsettling and stressful. But with a few personal touches, a student’s dorm room can quickly begin to feel like home, providing a comfortable place to study, rest, and make great memories with friends. Even if you’re on a budget, you can make your dorm room stand out from the rest with a little creativity and resourcefulness.