A special thanks to our intern, Shanzay, and her friends who provided photos of their amazing and stylish dorm rooms!
I remember when my son was going off to college. It was an exciting time, but also an expensive time!
Taking an empty dorm room and turning it into a mini home away from home is no easy task. There’s limited space, and after paying for tuition, books, and food, there’s limited funds, too.
Creating a functional and fun dorm room doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some tips to help you do some spectacular dorm decorating on a budget!
It’s not easy to send your kids off to college. To you, they’ll always be your little boy or girl. To help ease the stress (and the pain!) of saying goodbye, take a peek at our 10 tips for an easy transition to college — just for parents!
1. Make every piece of furniture have a dual purpose.
Calico Designs Mobile File Cabinet, $113.29 at Jet.com
It’s always a great idea to pick furniture with hidden storage or a dual purpose. This dorm room features a storage bench tucked underneath a window that makes for the perfect study spot or place for friends to hang out when they visit.
Another multi-purpose idea is to roll out an under-the-desk filing cabinet at night to serve as a nightstand next to your child’s bed.
2. Take advantage of free space.
If your car is full of your child’s stuff but their dorm room is itty bitty, you can maximize space and savings by using under-the-bed bins. These can easily store extra clothes, school supplies, and even non-perishable food!
If the dorm bed is too low to the ground, you can easily raise the height by buying inexpensive bed risers.
3. Save more by buying discontinued models.
Did you know you can shop for discontinued mini fridges and microwaves? Buying last year’s model can save you up to 60 percent. Plus, if your child has a roommate you can save even more by splitting the cost with them. Lastly, don’t forget to check for a store coupon code to add on any additional savings.
4. Invest in a mattress topper.
Comfort Rx Gel Foam 2-Inch Topper, $14.99 at Target
Sure, most dorms provide a mattress, but let’s face it. They’re usually lumpy, bumpy, and a bit worse for wear. To make sure your new college student gets a good night sleep, it can be totally worth it to invest in a mattress pad or topper. These are much less expensive than buying a new mattress, and can create a much more comfortable bed.
5. Go with a bed in a bag for a great deal.
Xhilaration Turquoise & White Star Reversible Bed in a Bag, $47.99 at Target
You can find complete multi-piece bedding sets for as low as $40. To add some personality to your child’s space, let them pick out a color and pattern that suits them, then hang a corkboard or DIY memory board to add a space for notes, photos, and other items that remind them of home.
6. Teach students to look for coupons for regular expenses.
In addition to dorm furniture and accessories, your new student will quickly find their pocket change going toward regular expenses like laundry detergent.
Instead of blowing their extra cash on something that’s not so exciting (sorry, Tide!), teach your kids to save by searching for sales and coupons for the brands they like to buy.
This one tip can save them hundreds of dollars per year — and the same goes for toothpaste, deodorant, and other personal care items!
7. Check furniture stores for deals on bedding.
Organic Linked Tile Duvet Cover, $59.99 at West Elm
Don’t forget to price check furniture stores for coupon codes and sales on bedding and other room essentials. For example, West Elm has a coupon code for up to 30% off bedding plus free shipping. (Exp. 8/31) That deep discount could make West Elm your best bet for discount dorm bedding!
8. Put up shelves to make extra room for storage.
Home Decorators Collection 16×5-inch White Cottage Bracket Shelf, $7.46 at Home Depot
You can DIY by grabbing supplies at stores like Home Depot, which can save you money over the cost of fancy premade shelving units. In fact, Home Depot has some fairly cheap shelving kits that include everything you need to make the most of the dorm room’s vertical space.
Quick tip: Make sure your child’s dorm allows items like these to be installed, and be prepared to fill in the holes. Drywall screws can leave a fairly big crater in their dorm wall!
If shelves can’t be installed, good old wall putty or tape will still do the trick for hanging small pieces of art and photos of friends. You can even help your child tape up a full wall collage to add a huge dose of personality and fun to their new space.
9. Use folding chairs for extra seating.
Folding Plush Butterfly Chair, $49.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond
Extra seating is a must in a dorm room. Your teen probably won’t want to hang out at their desk or bed all the time, plus they’re sure to have friends over who will need a place to sit, too.
A simple folding chair can quickly be brought out for guests, then easily tucked away to maximize space. This plush butterfly chair looks extra chic and comfy when topped with a fun pillow.
10. Don’t forget about the bathroom!
Simple By Design Over the Door Scandi Pop Shoe Organizer, $14.99 at Kohl’s
If your child’s dorm includes the luxury of a (semi-)private bathroom instead of a large community space, over-the-door shoe holders can be a perfect solution for storing all the gizmos and gadgets he or she needs on hand.
Everything from blow dryers to lotion, shampoo and razors fits perfectly inside each pocket, meaning there’s less chance it takes up space on the vanity or sink.
Your turn! How did you create a cozy, personalized dorm room for your child? Let us know in the comments below!