From bland to ‘bam!’: Six ways to decorate on a budget

Decorating your own space can be exciting. Bonuses to living off campus tends to be a great stove and making tea whenever. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Do your dormitory walls look as barren as your bank account? Are you wanting to save your last few dollars for chicken nuggets rather than decorations? Don’t fret, you can still snag those nugs while having a swanky pad.

Between your bank account and limitations on decorating in rental homes and dormitories, it feels impossible to have a space to call your own. These few tips will help you reclaim your room as a haven that Chip and Joana Gaines wouldn’t scoff at.

1. Thrift stores are your best friend

Your local thrift store is a safe bet for decor on a discount. Sure, you’ll have to rummage through questionable paintings and kitschy items, but it’ll all be worth it once you snag the item that calls to you.

You can also find cheap furniture there and upcycle items using stain and paint. This will breathe life into items that are often overlooked.

2. Get creative with what you have

What do you have in your home — other than the responsibilities — you’re hiding from? You probably have paper, pencils and sticky notes. So how can you turn this into something wall-worthy?

My favorite example of creative decorating is how students in Wefald Hall used sticky notes to decorate their windows during the fall 2019 semester. Here is an example below:

Residents covered Wefald Hall's windows in sticky notes, driven by floor competition and bragging rights, on Oct. 1, 2019. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

3. Shed some new light

Would it even be a college pad if you didn’t have your Christmas lights up year-round? Snag some string lights once they’re on sale after a holiday for a solid discount.

Make sure to pick up Command strips instead of thumbtacks while you’re there or your landlord will throw a fit.

4. Center focus on the best part of the room

Whatever part of your room you are most happy with should be the focus of the room. Say you want it to be your couch — hang decor around that vicinity. This will draw the eye directly to this area.

If the concept of arranging a grouping of decor frightens you, slap a spacious tapestry on the wall and call it good.

5. Surround yourself with things that remind you of your value

College is hard. Life is hard. It is important to provide yourself with a space that is a haven from reality and also encouraging.

For example, I have photos of people I love hanging on my walls. Those pictures are a daily reminder of why I am here and working hard for my future. On the days I feel alone, my mementos serve as a reminder that I am the farthest thing from that.

6. Pinterest is a better design coach than me

You heard me right.

My name is Katelin Woods and I graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts in public relations in May 2020. I worked as the first audience engagement manager of the Collegian from 2019 to 2020 and took photos for the multimedia staff. I was also the founding editor of the culture desk in 2018. I am an enthusiast of a poetry, pizza roll and pajamas.