all of my work written through college: week two

How to Decorate Your Dorm Room on a Budget

So you finally moved into your own place, be it dorm or apartment, but there is just one problem: you have no idea where or how to begin decorating. Pinterest and home decor magazines make decorating look easy, that is, if you have a budget that’s twice the size of your space’s square footage.

Since Pinterest and Tumblr’s rise in popularity, college students are taking more interest in well-designed rooms. It’s now easier than ever to gather ideas for paint, furniture and bedding. The fact remains, though, that students and their parents prefer to keep decorating budgets small.

Small budget, small space — the two should go hand-in-hand right? Not always, but as long as you prepare properly and make smart purchases, the pieces will fall into place.

To make the most of your money and time, interior designer Todd Richesin says to first, measure the space. It’s important to have a plan and dimensions before arranging or buying furniture. The design process takes time.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make is buying things when they have to have them,” Richesin said. “When you are pressured into finding something immediately, you can make mistakes. Take your time, and get it right.”

Richesin’s advice is especially relevant when making expensive purchases, like furniture. To “get it right” invest in classic, traditional styles. “It may be the best money you could spend,” he says.

Shanda Hayden, a Knoxville interior designer, suggests scouring consignment stores, garage sales or thrift shops for classic, well-made desks, chairs and chests. HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx also top her list of stores with deals on one-of-a-kind items.

Once the basics are taken care of, buy fabric, Hayden says. Fabric adds texture to a room and can be used to make curtains or pillows and simple art when stretched over a canvas. Even hanging a shower curtain in front of a doorless closet adds personality and color to a bland dorm room, she says.

In addition to fabric, rugs, lamps, personal photos and mirrors all give cramped living quarters a more homey feel. Mirrors reflect natural light and make a space feel bigger, while rugs and lamps give off cozy vibes. Again, be sure to keep the room size in mind.

“If you are buying area rugs, the rule is the larger the rug, the larger the space will feel,” Richesin says. “The edge of an area rug is the visual wall in a room. So, don’t just put a rug under the cocktail table. Consider traffic paths, as well as other pieces that need to go in the room.”

While decorating a room or apartment has technical aspects, keep in mind that experimenting and discovering your personal style are also parts of the process.

“I think a young person doesn’t know what their style is, but that’s what makes it fun!,” Hayden says. “You can do whatever you want to do, within reason. It’s a chance to try new things.”

Browsing antique stores or retail shops, like Anthropologie, is great for inspiration and helpful when trying to narrow your tastes. Decorating is one of the few things in college without a deadline, so enjoy it!

“Don’t try to or feel the need to complete the entire house or apartment all at one time,” Richesin says. “Start with the basics that you absolutely have to have, and go from there. The accumulation process can be a fun one.”


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