Dorm Room Ideas on a Budget

September 21, 2021

Help your college dorm room feel like a home away from home with these easy college dorm room ideas on a budget.

Now that you're starting college it's time to get yourself set up in your new dorm room! Before the semester gets too busy, set up your living space with these budget-friendly college dorm ideas. Set up a cozy space so you can be happy away from home and more effective in your studies. 

The Essential College Dorm Room Checklist

First, it's important to distinguish between your wants and needs. You might not have a huge budget just to set up your dorm, especially if you still need to buy things like your books, tuition, or laptop. 

Start by creating a list of all the essentials you know your dorm will need. If you can, make sure to inspect your future dorm ahead of time so you know what the layout is going to be like. Will you have your own bathroom? Will there be a living room and kitchen? Will you share a room with a roommate or will you have a private bedroom? 

These important questions will help determine what you will and won't need in your personal essential college dorm room checklist. Here are some ideas to get your own list started. 

  • Bedframe 
  • Mattress
  • Mattress pad
  • Mattress topper 
  • Bedsheets 
  • Pillows and pillowcases 
  • Blankets 
  • Dorm desk 
  • Desk chair 
  • Printer and printer paper 
  • Other desk accessories and essentials 
  • Hangers 
  • Laundry baskets 
  • Shoe organizer 
  • Dresser 
  • Dresser drawer organizers 
  • Alarm clock 
  • Lamp 

Creating a Dorm Room Budget

Go over all the things you need and want for your college dorm. Take care of your dorm necessities first to make sure you don't go over budget. After you're sure you have what you need, if there's still room in your budget, then you can spend money on the things you want but don't really need. 

Step 1: Make a list of your dorm necessities.

Step 2: Use online shopping to estimate and list the costs of these items. 

Step 3: Add these estimated costs together to get the estimated total cost. 

Step 4: Compare this estimated total cost with your budget and make adjustments as needed. 

Download a Dorm Room Ideas Budget Worksheet Here. 

If your total estimated dorm items cost exceeds your budget then you might need to do some more online shopping to find college student discounts or more affordable options. If the total is under budget then you have room to add some luxury, nonessential items to your shopping list. 

Dorm Decor Ideas on a Budget

Take your college dorm to the next level with fun dorm decor ideas and useful room accessories. Fill your space with things like dorm chairs, dorm room furniture, and dorm room wall decor to personalize your space and make it your own. 

Whether you need dorm room ideas for girls or dorm room ideas for guys, this college dorm checklist can help you have what you need to really make your dorm yours. 

Personalized dorm bedding with a pattern you love

Personalize your space and set yourself up for quality rest by getting great dorm bedding with a pattern you love. Make your space your own and give yourself a comfy place to rest with comforters, pillows, and blankets that speak to you. 

(dorm bedding under $40)

Storage for small spaces 

Storage for small spaces helps you feel less crowded in your dorm room. Storage solutions for a small kitchen are necessary as well to keep all your kitchen items organized and keep counter spaces clear.

(storage bins under $15)

Storage bins for any rented storage units

Many college students end up needing extra storage outside the apartment so they don't end up with too much stuff taking up the limited real estate in their room. Save some space and purchase bigger, sturdy storage bins in case you need a storage unit. 

(storage bins under $20)

Closet organizers and drawer organizers 

Closet organizers can be a great way to take full advantage of your closet space. Then, everything you have will have an exact spot to go in too. 

(closet organizers under $25)

Renter-friendly wall hooks

Hang your personal mirrors, whiteboards, photos, or wall tapestries of your favorite art or pop culture posters without damaging the walls. That way you can decorate and keep your deposit. 

(wall hooks under $10)

Personal coffee maker

Wake up easier for those early morning classes with a personal coffee maker. Some are so small, you could even potentially keep them in your bedroom. 

(coffee makers under $25)

Shower Organization

A shower caddy makes showers and bathroom visits easier and helps keep roommates from stealing all your shampoo!

(shower caddy under $10)

Bathroom organization

If there isn't already some shelving, add some open shelving in the bathroom to organize communal bathroom products.

(bathroom shelving under $25)

Area rugs to bring the whole room together 

Magically make your apartment a well-decorated home by laying out some patterned area rugs. A well-placed area rug can also help define your different spaces. 

(area rugs under $25)

Dorm room decor to make your cute dorm room even cuter

Don't settle for a drab dorm environment. Take some time to collect a few inexpensive decorative items to add your personal stamp on the space. 

(room decor under $50)

Renter Friendly Wallpaper

Just because you are renting a space in a dorm or apartment doesn’t mean you can’t spruce up the wall color or pattern. Renter-friendly wallpaper can change the entire look of the room without damaging the walls. It's easy to stick to the wall and remove so you can still get your security deposit back later. 

(renter friendly wallpaper under $30)

In Conclusion, 

Your living space is an important part of college life. College can be hectic and busy. The last thing you want is to come home to a space that's crowded and uninviting. You want to be comfortable so you can rest and recuperate during your downtime, and have an efficient space to work on homework, papers, and studying. Use these easy dorm decor tips to not only personalize your space but make it a comfortable space to study.