Written by Alex Hutchison, recent college graduate and marketing intern for American Made Dorm. What great ideas! Dorms can be a bit bland. Okay, let’s be honest, they are extremely bland! It’s hard to make a tiny cinder block room feel cozy and homey, especially if you are moving in with a complete stranger. On top of all that, most incoming freshmen are on a fairly tight budget. Trust me, I’ve been there! We all want our dorm rooms to be a "home away from home", a little sanctuary we can call our own for the next year, but how on earth do we accomplish this on such a tight budget? Is it even possible to turn that little cinder block room into something cozy without spending boatloads of money? The answer is yes, indeed! In fact, it is a lot easier than you probably think... as long as you know where to look. I am a sucker for thrift stores, antique shops, and of course DIY projects. Not only can you get some really great finds for little money, but being able to claim the DIY projects as your own feels great. If your friends are anything like mine, meaning they don’t have the patience or craftiness to make the DIY projects on their own, you might even make a few extra bucks when they see how perfect your dorm room looks! When I was decorating my dorm room, and even my house/apartment after I moved out, I used just about everything for inspiration. HGTV is a great source, whether you are as addicted to the television network as I am or you are just browsing online!
Of course, Pinterest is another great place to look for ideas. American Made Dorm & Home has created Pinterest Dorm Decor Boards by color to give you inspiration. Another resource? Go to antique stores or thrift shops and browse high and low until you find something that sparks an idea! There were several times when I found really great vintage lamp, but never a lamp shade to go with it. I ended up buying the lamps regardless (each under $20) with plans to purchase a shade later. The options of what you can do with the shades are endless! You can use a stencil to pattern it, adorn it with ribbon, or cover it with fabric! Another great find from these types of stores are old window panes. I got one for a whopping $6. I left mine just the way I found it, but you can easily paint over them. I bought tweed rope from a craft store to string across the width of it, and used mini clothes hangers to hang my favorite pictures! It was, and still is, a definite attention getter when someone walks into my room, and all for under $10.
Another awesome DIY project I did in my house, but can easily be done for your dorm if you’re lucky enough to have the suite style living, is a coffee table made from wooden pallets! I am from a small town, and my parents knew plenty of people who had these laying around and were happy to get rid of them, so I got mine for free! If you check any home store, such as Home Depot, Lowe’s or even somewhere locally that gets large shipments in, I am most certain you can find them at little to no cost as well. (Be sure to google this project to ensure you are using the correct type of pallet. Most pallets are stamped with letters that tell you which kind is safe for indoor use, and which is not, since some are chemically treated.) Then, sand your pallets until they are relatively smooth and add your favorite paint color. I also added a piece of glass and four wheels so it’s easily movable. I cannot tell you how many people have asked me about this piece. They are always shocked when I tell them I did it all myself. I have also seen pallets used as headboards, and even chairs and end tables, which just requires a little more work because you have to tear them apart and reassemble according to your desired dimensions. Last but not least, one of the easiest ways to spice up your bland dorm is with wooden wall cutouts.
Whether you’re in a sorority, want to display your initials, or have a favorite word you want to share, this DIY is so easy to do! I traced my sorority letters on a piece of plywood and had a friend cut them out. You can use whatever design you want, whether you make up your own like I did or use your new beautiful bedding from American Made Home & Dorm as inspiration, there is really no wrong way to do it! With these tips, you should be on your way to some fun, easy and cheap DIY projects that will have everyone in your dorm talking about how fantastic your room looks! Remember, inspiration is everywhere. You just have to know where to find it! :)