Friday, August 21, 2009

Inexpensive Dorm Room Decorating for Students

By Julie Clark Robinson

Just because you're about to use all of your money on tuition, books, room and board doesn't mean you have to have a drab, run-of-the-mill dorm room. There are simple and inexpensive ways to add your own personal style to the four walls that your college has to offer. The first place to start won't cost you a cent - your roommate. Don't buy a thing until you find out what (s)he has to offer. Then, make a list for 'needs' and a list of 'wants'. Surely you realize that the things you actually need are the priority, right? Here are some other things to keep in mind when shopping on a budget:

1. Where to shop? Chances are you don't have a lot of time to drive from store to store doing price comparisons. This is where online shopping can really make sense. You don't even have to buy gas for the car, that's always a plus. Another great option is to go straight to the thrift store or Salvation Army nearest your dorm. Why? Outgoing seniors from the previous year often pass along their furnishings in the most convenient way possible.

2. Cover up boring walls. Painting dorms isn't usually an option, but there are several other ways to bring some color and visual interest to dorm walls. Fabric, tacked into the ceiling against a wall, adds texture, warmth and any color that you and your roommate can agree on. Or, how about starting a collage? All you need is a big piece of foam board hung on the wall and the rest will evolve throughout the year as you college concert tickets, pictures and posters. What's more, if you come across a friend who is an art student, it can't hurt to ask them to contribute to the project.

3. Don't buy carpet when you can save with throw rugs instead. Think about it -- you pay for carpet by the square foot, so why cover areas under furniture such as beds, desk and dressers? Instead, buy a few strategically placed throw rugs to soften and warm the floors for months of spreading out on the floor to study.

4. Keep looking for treasures. In order to separate your room from everyone else's that you know, there are ways to combine form with function that can be uniquely your own. For example take the basic student crate that most use for storage, and weave plush fabric throughout the openings for a splash of color and texture. Dated desk and floor lamps can be made to look modern with a simple lampshade update. A plain waste basket can be painted with sponges to incorporate a design that appeals to you.

Creativity is the thrifty student's best friend when it comes to putting together your first home away from home. You have a big year ahead of you, so do your best to create a nurturing living environment as you go along.

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