Dorms can be 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 love 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!

You can find letters or initials online, too. I  simply printed it and framed one in my room. It was free!

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!

I found really great vintage lamp but could not find 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! I got my fabric from American Made Dorm & Home.  They sell fabric by the yard online. Or, if you are buying your dorm comforter or bedding from American Made Dorm & Home, you might ask if they have some scraps of the same material left over.  You never know, they might send it with the bedding for free!

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. 

Have fun with college, have fun with your room, and above all, be yourself.

Alex Hutchinson, AMDH Intern 

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