The Secret to Refreshing Your Dorm Without Spending a Dime

The Secret to Refreshing Your Dorm Without Spending a Dime

If there’s one thing that unifies college students, it’s suffering through small, uninspiring dorm spaces. Don’t get us wrong—college is an amazing experience through and through—but living in a tiny room with often more than one roommate is possibly one of the least fun parts of the four-year period.

You may have noticed we’re going through a refresh here at college fashionista, so we wanted to help give some of our community a little refresh of their own. To do so, we tapped Interior Designer Hilary Nadelman for her tips on transforming a small space on a ramen noodle budget.

Keep reading for her advice on how to make your dorm into a home without spending a dime.

incorporate layering

PHOTO: Jordyn Wissert

Small spaces can create very large challenges when laying out a room—but there are ways to make a space seem cozy without feeling cluttered. “People think just because it’s a small space it won’t ever feel homey or cozy—this is definitely not true. It’s actually easier to make a small space feel complete. Fill it with all your favorite things and layer on pieces to complete the look,” Nadelman explains. With a tiny bed tucked into a corner, Jordyn Wissert, college fashionista Photography Fellow, transformed her own area by layering pillows with different textures and adding artwork above the bed to complete the look of the space.

add small pieces

PHOTO: Jordyn Wissert

A major problem that comes with decorating dorms—aside from monetary restrictions—is doing so without any permanent additions. You typically can’t paint or even add shelves, which can seriously limit the changes you’re able to make. However, Nadelman proved us wrong with the advice that adding simple pieces can be just as impactful. Her secret? “My favorite inexpensive ways to transform a room are temporary wallpaper to warm up the space, some sort of plant or flowers to add some life, and adding some art or photographs on the wall to complete the room.” Not only does transforming a space require little to no effort, but you can do so with items you already have to ensure it doesn’t cost a thing.

create a gallery wall

PHOTO: Jordyn Wissert

Students make so many memories throughout their time in college, and creating a wall of artwork and photographs is often one of their favorite ways honor those memories and personalize a space. But how can you avoid a jumbled, disorganized look of having a bunch of different pictures hanging around? According to Nadelman, the secret is in the size. “Print some of your favorite photographs on Shutterfly or any other picture website in various sizes and frame them in inexpensive frames from Ikea or Amazon to get the gallery wall look.” Can’t afford frames? No problem, says Nadelman—”Another hack I love is to just use different bright colored washi tape to tape the photographs on the wall.” Photography Fellow Wissert’s simple gallery wall is the perfect iteration of this advice, which uniquely layers large framed art in contrast with smaller objects.

How are you refreshing your dorm this semester? Show us on social media, and be sure to tag @cfashionista!

Featured photo by Jordan Wissert.

2 Comments
  1. These are great tips! Although I don’t live in a dorm, my room is super small, so these tips were really helpful! I especially like the gallery wall idea and I hope to try it out soon 🙂

  2. When I lived in a dorm these tips really helped in ensuring that it still felt like home. Even as a commuter student now, these tips really go a long way!

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