Decorating dorm rooms on a budget

August 8, 2011 5:49:12 PM PDT
Some of you may have students that will soon be going off to college and a big expense can be decorating a dorm room. But have no fear, we're tackling that problem.

Dorm rooms are not exactly the most comfortable environment, so it's important to create a living space for students that has the feel of a home away from home. is a free web-based tool that allows students to customize their dorm room interiors. The site also lets you purchase these items on the spot but it can be pricey. If you set up a entire room with bedding and accessories, it could cost more than $800! Who could afford that?

"I think we can do it on a budget and pretty easy," professional home stager Stephen Musquiz said.

So we asked Musquiz to help us create a space at a University of Houston residential hall on a budget.

His first design tip is to choose the room's focal point and color scheme. Musquiz chose a comforter from Target for $19.99. He picked up some pillows to create depth and the color scheme.

When it comes to decorating the walls, keep in mind at most residential halls, you can't hammer a nail into the walls, so design tip number two is to be creative with your materials. At the Container Store, we picked up these decor panels four to a pack for $9.99. We hang them using adhesive strips that won't damage the wall.

"This is actually an inexpensive way to way to make a really big impact in the room," Musquiz said.

Suddenly our bare walls are interesting; the total cost for this project is $20.

Next, it's time to focus on space saving containers.

"Closet space is at a premium in these buildings, and you just aren't always able to put everything you need and you know, students need quite a bit," Musquiz said.

We found some inexpensive storage solutions from IKEA, including a black storage case for $9.99 and a red box for $6.99. We also purchased this transparent under the bed bin from the Container Store for $14.99.

When it comes to decorating the desk, accessories need to be practical, like a letter sorter and pen box, both from the Container Store.

Finally, we add the finishing touches, including round rugs for $9.99 each from IKEA, a framed poster that's also $9.99 from IKEA and picture frames $1.99 each.

By the end of the process, our dorm room was completely transformed for less than $150.

For closet space in dorm rooms, use clear containers. Target and the Container Store have clear shoe boxes that you can use for more than just shoes. Pack belts, scarves and jewelry to save space. They are usually about $2 a box.

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