A dorm decorated on a budget

Easy, Budget-Friendly Dorm Decor Ideas

Class schedule? Check. Books and school supplies? Check. Now, how about dorm room decor? You don’t have to be the most creative or wealthy person in the world to make your dorm room look straight out of a magazine, and expressing your personal dorm room style is (almost) as important as figuring out your classes. So, here’s a few simple decorating ideas you can use in your new home away from home that won’t blow your budget and will make you actually want to spend time in your own cozy little room. 

Washi Tape

When decorating a dorm room, washi tape is your best friend. It’s cute and colorful and won’t mess up your walls or furniture. There’s so much you can do with it too, from edging the shelves of your bookcase to framing your posters to creating “washi wallpaper.” The first two ideas are pretty self-explanatory, but we’ll show you how to jazz up those boring white walls with some faux wallpaper. This tutorial shows you how to create a large, chic triangle design, but you can also adapt it to create any design you want.

You’ll need:

  • Washi tape (as many or as few colors/patterns as you want)
  • Utility knife
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil


  1. Measure the length of your wall to determine where the center is, then decide how tall you want the triangle to be and mark the spot.
  2. Stick one end of the tape to that point, pull to the corner of the wall and press the tape against the wall. Cut the tape (This is easier with a buddy).
  3. Repeat for the other side of the triangle.
  4. Continue adding tape in the same pattern to fill in the triangle, leaving about ¼ inch between the pieces of tape. 

Temporary Headboard

Nothing will make your bed and your room feel quite as homey as having a headboard! Pick a fun pattern, and it will tie your whole room together and make your standard-issue, prison-style bed not look quite so drab.

You’ll need:

  • Large piece of sturdy cardboard
  • Cloth of your choice
  • Measuring tape
  • Box cutter
  • Packing tape


  1. Measure and cut the cardboard to the width of your bed. You can double up the cardboard to make it more sturdy if you want.
  2. Draw the shape of the headboard you want. You can look up pictures of headboard outlines for inspiration, or you can keep it a simple rectangle.
  3. Cut out the headboard shape with box cutters, and place it on the piece of cloth.
  4. Tape (or if you want it to be more permanent, use glue) the fabric to the cardboard. The fabric should be larger than your cardboard piece so you can hide the edges of the fabric on the back. 
  5. Hang with command strips.

DIY Curtains

You don’t actually have to make the curtains yourself (you can if you want to), but if you don’t want to fork over $50 for a pair of nice curtains, you can turn a $10 pair into your own personalized works of art. It doesn’t even require any sewing!

You’ll Need:

  • Cheap, solid curtains
  • Fabric glue
  • Ribbon, lace, and/or pom-pom trim 
  • Scissors


  1. Lay one curtain on a flat surface and squeeze a line of fabric glue on the curtain 5 inches from the top edge. Press one of your chosen adornments onto the glue, spanning the width of the curtain.
  2. Continue down the curtain, varying the amount of space between each adornment. 
  3. You can either continue to the bottom of the curtain or stop halfway down. 
  4. Hang your curtain on a colorful rod.

Color Dipping

Color dipping is a great, easy way to add a pop of color to your room without becoming too overwhelming. Don’t you just want to color dip everything?? And you can, from chairs to pots to mirrors, the options are endless. The color dipping process is simple, and you can adapt this tutorial for chairs to just about any item you desire. 

You’ll Need:

  • Chair(s)
  • White spray paint
  • (Any) color spray paint
  • Painter’s tape


  1. Spray paint the whole chair white, or any other base color you want. Light colors generally look best. Let dry.
  2. Use painter’s tape of section off the bottom half of the chair legs.
  3. Spray paint the bottom half any color you want, taking care to not spray above the tape. Let dry and peel off the tape.
Last Updated: July 31, 2015