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9 Ways College Students Can Furnish Their Dorm Rooms on a Budget

Don’t have a lot of money for dorm room furniture and accessories? Check out these ideas for how to furnish a dorm room on a budget.

After paying tuition fees, books, meals and room costs, it’s unlikely you’ll have a lot of money left over for dorm room furniture and accessories. But since you’ll be spending lots of time here it makes sense to pretty it up a little (even if it’s just one side of the room).

Check out these ideas for how to furnish a dorm room on a budget and and make it your home away from home.

1. Focus on Dorm Room Essentials

It’s easy to get sidetracked with decorating, and find out you haven’t got any money left for dorm room essentials. Before you start sprucing up your dorm room, make sure you at least have:

  • A dirty laundry hamper
  • Good quality bed linens
  • Clothes hangers
  • Towels
  • Dishes, glasses & utensils.

Now you can start decorating….

 2. DIY Dorm Decor

If you’re at all creative, then you can save money with a little DIY dorm decor. Thanks to the internet you won’t be short of dorm room ideas - here are 37 for starters! From cool photo displays, to decorative shoe holders, not only is DIY decor fun, it lets you bring your own personality into the space

3. Thrift Store Shopping

If DIY decor seems too much like hard work, then thrift store shopping can be a cheap way to add some character. You can find all sorts of treasures to kit out a dorm room; an antique chair, retro artwork or cute knick-knacks. Best of all you’ll only have to fork out a few bucks for the item itself.

4. Multi-functional Dorm Room Furniture
Buying dorm room furniture that can be used for multiple purposes is a great way to save money and make the best use of your small space. For example, an ottoman can be used as seating and storage, a nightstand can double as a computer desk, a coffee table can have a lifting top to work as an impromptu dining table.

5. Use Your Own Stuff

Before you leave home, raid your room and see if there’s anything you can use for dorm furniture or decor. If you already have a perfectly good desk lamp or rug you may as well use it and save money. You can always buy some affordable accessories to tie everything together.

6. Acquire Hand-Me-Downs

Send out the word that you’re after some dorm room furniture and you’ll probably be inundated with freebies. Your parents, friends, siblings may all have something they don’t want and are willing to donate. The hardest part could be deciding what you want to keep and what you don’t without offending anyone.

7. Shop Online Deals

Keep an eye on sites like Craigslist and eBay for dorm room furniture deals, and Amazon for student discounts. It may not be designer furniture but it’ll do the job and you can always add your own touch with DIY decor or thrift store purchases.

Some other stores to look out for sale items include:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Ikea
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Anthropologie, and
  • Pottery Barn Teen.

8. Introduce Plants

Plants can add instant interest to small space, and will help to purify the air in the room. A few low maintenance pot plants in cute containers will make the room feel welcoming and calm. Choose plants that don’t take much to look after. If you don’t think you’ll remember to water them, then you might be better off with a succulent or cactus.

 9. Split Costs 

Your roommate will be in the same boat so it can be a win-win if you pool your money and split costs on items for the room, such as one person buys the microwave and the other the mini fridge. Just be aware that anything your roommate owns will be going with them at the end of the year!

Final thoughts

As you can see there are plenty of ways to furnish a dorm room on a budget. You don’t have to put up with a sterile room just because of a serious lack of money.

Decorating your dorm room the way you want it is a chance to develop your own style and personality. Having a space you can relax in after a hard day of hitting the books and that you can invite your friends over to hang out in, is what college life is all about.

Author’s Bio:

Angela Pearse is a blogger for Zumper who frequently combines travel with freelance writing. She’s passionate about Art Deco hotels, historical novels, Netflix, hiking and healthy living.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23