Your life couldn’t be more perfect — you got into your dream school, you LOVE your roommate, and you even managed to get all afternoon classes and nothing Friday — yet every time a Bed Bath & Beyond or PB Teen catalog shows up, you are filled with dread. How are you POSSIBLY  going to make your perfect dorm room without breaking the bank?! Lucky for you guys, most of us at TP have faced the same dilemma, and have compiled a list of east money saving tricks that will still get you the room you’ve always dreamed of!

1. Cork Boards

Dorm rooms basically have two constants: they are very drab in color and they are very small. One of the best ways around this is by decorating the walls, which really adds personality to the room. While websites like PB Teen offer a wide selection of cork boards, the vast majority of them come at exorbitant prices, so rather than waste my money there, I found a more affordable solution.

Full disclosure: I shamelessly stole the idea from my uncle and ten year-old cousin.  Anyways, here’s the lowdown!


  • Cork Board Tiles – You can basically get these wherever, but Amazon has 8 packs for 11 dollars,  which is probably as good as you’ll find.
  • Painters Tape – Again, I found it on Amazon for about 5 dollars, but it never hurts to search around
  • Paint – This can be basically whatever type and color you want, I got a pack of basic acrylic colors for about 12 dollars, which isn’t that much when you consider I’ve made use of them in almost every DIY dorm project!
  • Foam Brushes – I know, I know…these may seem pretty elementary but they have two major plusses: they are cheap, which means you don’t need to bother with trying to clean them…just toss out the dirty one, and they don’t throw off little stray pieces..nothing ruins a project like having the brush leave hairs all over the place! I got a 20 pack on Amazon for 6 dollars and have yet to run out of them.

Total Cost: $24 (bearing in mind that three out of the four materials will be of use in other projects)

*Note: For an extra touch, glitter glue is always an acceptable addition!

What to do:

  1. Put down the tape basically however you want on the cork board.
  2. Paint over the open spaces in whatever colors you’ve chosen.
  3. Let the cork board dry for about 10 minutes, then pull up the tape and let it dry the rest the way.
  4. Repeat with the rest of the cork boards!

2. Posters

While this isn’t a DIY project, posters are definitely a quick and easy way to brighten up a drab dorm room. The best part of being: it is easy to find affordable posters that still look great. Personally, I think that AllPosters is hands down the best resource when it comes to finding dorm room accessories.

3. Lighting

I’ve found a lot of different way to incorporate inexpensive lighting into dorm decorating, so I’ll be telling you guys about a few different options with this one.

Mason Jar Lights: 

One of my favorite thing about these lights are that they sort of give a candle kind of glow, but don’t break dorm rules about fires in the building. Also, I just plain love anything in a mason jar!


  • Mason Jars – I got a 12 pack for 12 dollars on Amazon purely because I use mason jars for everything from DIY projects to drinking glasses, but you can also find them for a dollar or so at a lot of super markets and most hardware stores.
  • Battery Operated Christmas Lights – I got a couple packs like these for 10 dollars. but again, shop around and you’ll find some that are perfect for you!

Total cost: about $22

What to do:

  1. Stick the christmas lights in the jar.
  2. Turn them on!
  3. Voila, you have an easy and cute little light to help give your room more personality!

Christmas Lights 

Another super easy, and super inexpensive way to personalize your dorm room is through christmas lights, just stringing them up around your bed or around the whole room is going to give it a much homier feel, and definitely will bring a lot more of YOU into the equation! The even better thing is, all you need is strings of whatever colors you want, which you can find pretty inexpensively just about anywhere, I bought a bunch at my local drug store for about 3 dollars a string!

4. Personalization

When you move into a dorm room, the uniform quality of it can make it hard to seem like home, and even harder to seem like its yours. One of the key tricks to get around that is to add some personlization to the room. While many websites offer persaonlization options, my mouth (and bank out) often drop when I see the prices! Fortunately, I’ve found a way to make things personal WITHOUT making my bank account overdrawn!


I know what you are all thinking right now…normally monogramming seems like a super expensive thing, but I’ve got great news for you: it doesn’t have to be, and I’m going to show you how!


  • Whatever material you want to monogram, I did it on a few of my pillowcases and on the case for my sit up pillow, but seriously go crazy with this!
  • Iron-On Patches – I got these online for about 2-5 dollars a patch, and there are a ton of different options to choose from, so you can really go crazy!
  • Iron and Ironing Board – if you don’t have one for yourself, I’m sure you’ll be able to hunt down a friend who does!

Total Cost: it depends on how many you are doing, but it shouldn’t be more than $5 per patch!

What to do:

  1. Its as simple as letting the iron heat up and then following the instructions on the patch! Who says that you have to pay ridiculous prices for a monogrammed product!

Name/Letter Blocks 


  • Wood letters – Whether you want to do your whole name, just one letter, or whole name, you’ll be able to find wooden letters for pretty low prices! I got mine on Amazon about 4 dollars a letter!
  • Foam Paint Brushes – You already should have these from the cork board project!
  • Paint – Again, you can reuse the stuff you used in the cork board project, but also feel free to get new colors and go crazy!
  • Painters Tape – I TOLD you that all that stuff you bought before was going to come in handy!

Total cost: however many letters you decide to use multiplied by about 4!

What to do: (Once you’ve decided how you want the letters to look, you basically have free reign, but I’ll let you guys in on how I did it!)

  1. Take some painted tape and did wacky designs on some of the letters.
  2. Paint the letters.
  3. Dip the back-end of the paint brush  in paint and put polka dots on the letters!
  4. Let dry and have a super cute decorations that all your friends will envy.

Hopefully this has shown you guys that you can decorate your dorm room without going broke, and that it doesn’t even take much skill or effort to do so! I know that I’m far from the most artistic person, and even I managed all these projects with minimal messes. Although… I can’t say I escaped without a few burns…who knew irons could be so hot!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

the author

Mollie Yacano is a freshman at Boston University studying marine science. She works in a biogeochemistry lab that studies human impact on coastal ecology, assisting with various grad student projects. Aside from being a science nerd, she is a self-diagnosed college admissions addict, and has been writing for TP almost since its inception. When she isn’t writing for The Prospect, she can be found instagramming her nail art, pretending to be witty on twitter, ranting about harmful algal blooms, and of course, wasting copious amounts of time on her personal Tumblr.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply