A smiling young woman reading in her decorated college apartment.
Freshman Finances

Affordable College Decor Ideas

Being on a budget doesn’t doom you to a boring dorm room or apartment. With a little time and creativity, you can breathe life into even the most cookie-cutter space with our college dorm decor ideas.

Make a Statement

Give your college apartment decor a boost with a budget-friendly statement piece. Express your style with a dramatic vase, custom-made DIY headboard, or large framed print. Even white walls and a tiny living area will seem interesting with the right eye-catching accent. You may be surprised by what’s available at discount or even in dollar stores, but you can also find bargains for your apartment or college dorm decor at:

  • Garage sales
  • Thrift stores
  • Yard sales
  • Estate sales

Whether you go secondhand or opt for something new, choose color-drenched, unique, or vintage items you won’t see in anyone else’s dorm or apartment.

Do It Yourself

Making your own room accessories is a fun way to save money while beautifying your space. Try these crafty ideas to inject a little excitement into your apartment or dorm decor:

  • Use fabric paint to give neutral pillows a reboot
  • Stretch fabric and staple it onto the back of your headboard for a custom look
  • Buy a cheap canvas and express yourself with paint

Pick up a vintage planter at a yard sale or secondhand store. If it’s a little banged-up or dull, give it a fresh paint job. Fill it with a flowing plant for a dramatic touch.

Choose a Theme

Decorating with a theme provides a polished look, even if you’re working with a small budget. Choose a specific style—nautical, natural, or from a specific historical period. You can even get inspiration from a movie you love. 

You’ll have a great time scouring eBay, Etsy, and secondhand stores for new finds to fit your themed college dorm decor. If you don’t have a theme in mind already, do some window shopping in your town for inspiration, or log in to Pinterest for creative college dorm decor ideas that won’t break the bank.

Color Your World

Not interested in giving your apartment or dorm a theme? Consider incorporating more color. Decorate in different shades of your favorite color, or go with a striking black and white scheme. Go crazy with bold hues, or keep things neutral but add a pop or two of color in the form of inexpensive throw pillows, hanging lights, or framed vintage ads.

Organize It

No matter how stylish it is, your dorm or apartment won’t look good if it’s messy. Invest in a few organizing supplies to ensure that you have a place for everything. When you’re dealing with a small living area, taking advantage of every bit of space possible is the best way to maintain order. Pick up these supplies online or at a nearby discount store:

  • Hanging caddies to replace nightstands or cabinets
  • A lazy Susan for your kitchen, bathroom or desk
  • Hooks for coats, umbrellas, utensils, robes, and keys 
  • Slim versions of storage racks, trash cans, and other items to fit between appliances or furniture

Of course, three-drawer storage cabinets made from see-through plastic are standard for dorm rooms, and with good reason. They’re perfect for keeping tabs on small items without using a million containers.

Change It Up

Get a new look for your dorm room or college apartment decor for free by moving your things around. While your living area may be tiny and your rearranging options limited, even small shifts can make a difference. Create a little more space by hanging accessories from hooks on the wall so you can get rid of a storage container or two. Experiment with moving what you can until you find a configuration that looks fresh.

Keep Track of Your Decor Shopping Spree with Varsity

From simple rearranging to DIY style hacks, we hope these college dorm decor ideas inspire you to create a great-looking space for less. Before you head out to hunt for the perfect headboard or a convenient bookshelf, however, choose a financial service that can help you manage your budget. 

When you open an account with Varsity, you’ll be able to track your spending on decor with our mobile checking and savings accounts. Want to keep that gorgeous place of yours tidy? Eliminate mail that can quickly clutter your space with our paperless financial statements, too! 

Whether your apartment needs just a few extra fashionable touches or you’re going all out for your dorm decor, open an account with Varsity and enjoy better money management today!

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