Dorm Rooms On a Dime

Firstly, I’d like to thank the very successful Women’s Network show Diva on a Dime for inspiring today’s title. Haha, just jokes guys. For real though, I loved that show… what ever happened to it?!

In January of this year I moved into dorm at college, and I bought NOTHING new to furnish my new space. Unfortunately institutional carpet, wood, and lighting are just a reality of dorm life. Not to mention the cinder block walls and lack of natural lighting. Despite of that, it was my mission to make my dorm room homey, chic, and not spend a dime. I didn’t DIY anything and I am not predisposed to interior decorating. I just implemented a few basic rules of displaying my items, and have had some experience in thrifting.

1. Not gonna lie here guys, but the easiest way to save money is to avoid buying new. I grew up thrifting, and I think it is financial, ethical, and stylistically wise. If you don’t already, I think you should try it!!  Value Village, or your chosen thrift store, is brimming with decor gems! But, don’t  be afraid to look beyond “decor” and search for other objects that will add dimension to your space. One of my most complimented pieces in my room is a rose gold pineapple *cake pan* that I got from Value Village for $1.99. It adds personality, it’s metallic, and it’s trendy (re: pineapples).

From Salvation Army I picked up a small gold night stand that I use to toss keys onto by my door. It was $5.99, and it’s right on trend. Now, obviously with second hand shopping it’s unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed… but if you go looking for aesthetic things you CAN find them! Dare I say, you WILL find them. Invest into looking, it will be worth it.

Note: Things that are always worth checking out at secondhand stores are the mirrors, trays, lighting, books (if not to actually read, at least for stacking on shelves!),furniture (a lot of time there are stools & small tables with are great for dorms!)

2. The majority of my “decor” is functional: mugs, bowls, cups. I personally love dish  wear so I’ve had a collection started for a few years before college (I recognize this is not normal). I use them to fill my shelves in decorative ways. Instead of just stacking them I disperse them among other decor and it results in function and furnish! Though I can hardly fathom a college student who doesn’t drink coffee, but maybe you don’t have mugs or bowls in your room that you want to display. Take this principle and apply it to whatever you’d like. Do you have cute shoes? Beautiful books? A magazine collection? My basic point is, take something that’s sole purpose is functional for daily life and use it to decorate!


3. On the same note, my statement piece of “decor” is a clothing rack from Ikea. Which I actually stole from my sister–sorry Liv! Last time I was at Ikea it was priced at a  grand total of $6.99. I use this to change up the colour scheme of my room. So simple, but it makes such a big difference in my space! A few girls on my hall have mentioned every time the walk by its different, which is true. It’s constantly evolving! I did a baby pink scheme for February and it served as Valentines decor… and I bought absolutely nothing new! It’s my favourite part of my room and is a great conversation starter, not to mention I get to stare at my beautiful coats!

^My current rack. Grey with hints of green in my rug and plants… Saint Patty’s day decor. 

And just as an aside here, when I change up my rack I find that I remember to wear clothes I’ve forgotten about. Which is fantastic because I feel more content with my wardrobe, and I am more creative with my outfits.

4. This is super simple tip, in fact you might think this is ridiculous, but if you couldn’t tell from my blog photos I love balloons. I don’t think there is many occasions that wouldn’t be enhanced by balloons. I get my balloons for super cheap and the dollar store. They’re sort of the flowers of broke (and perhaps single) college students.

5. Between a view of a wall outside of my window (aka no natural lighting) and cinder block walls, as well as being in a basement, my dorm room feels very dislodged from nature. While I mentioned in the previous point that flowers might not be in budget, do try to make room for plants. You can actually get plants for super cheap at Walmart because there are usually plants on clearance. Get low maintenance plants (ivy, cacti, succulents) and reap the benefits of seeing green! They honestly do cheer me up and I love having them, and I bet you’d feel the same way.


6. Lighting is so key to creating an enjoyable space. Lighting is without a doubt something that contributes to ambiance and enjoyment in many locals–heellloooo, candlelit dinners (case and point)! I personally adore neon. I attribute my love of neon to childhood memories of travelling through cities at night and being in complete wonder of flashing signs. Long story short, when I found this “OK” sign for $40 at Target I snatched it up! (It’s actually a great deal for what it is, though I recognize this doesn’t qualify as “on a dime”.)


Along with that, I also have a beautiful light that my talented sister-in-law made for my graduation gift (that I receive compliments on so frequently!). The photo is AWFUL! I’m sorry. I attempted, and I failed. Another easy way to incorporate some “nature” (and lighting!) into your space is to get a Himalayan salt lamp! They’re increasingly becoming cheaper! You can find them at Marshals and Winners for $10 bucks sometimes, but usually fall around the $20 mark. Regardless, if you want a homey space alternatives to institutional lighting is essential (again, check thrift stores for lamps!)


7. My final tip is somewhat scattered and indirect. But make use of what you have available to you. Photographs are a staple to personal spaces, utilize your photos. Inspired by a friend, I had a black-and-white photos only collage on my wall for a while, that I appreciated especially because it was aesthetic and coherent. Similarly, don’t be afraid to cut up calenders and magazines to get “artwork”. Don’t be afraid to draw your own art work  (I do this with simple concepts frequently, and I am no artist.) The photo below of the canvas that says “Stop and Smell the Roses” is a painting by my sister that I received for grad. If you have artistically inclined friends, perhaps ask them for a piece as a gift if you have a birthday or special occasion coming up. And lastly, keep your space clean. Yes Mom, I did just say that. Even though I am notoriously messy, I do put in every effort to keep my room clean. Since living in dorm I’ve realized that having a clean and tidy space is just a simple way to always be ready to serve others and welcome them into your space!

If you made it this far–THANK YOU. I promise I am almost done here.But one final point (I mean it this time)…

I just want to encourage you, just as I have been encouraged by mentors, to use your space well.

Yes, decorate it nicely.

Yes, keep it clean.

Yes, have fun with it.

But more importantly… make it a space that people feel safe in, that they enjoy being in. Share what you have! Your space can be full of stuff, and yet be vacant of meaning. Or you can use it to make your hall a better place. It’s up to you. 

The best space doesn’t cost even a dime.


XOX Rach

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Life is too short to waste. Live it to the full.

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