It has recently come to my attention that more and more community colleges in New York and beyond are offering student housing for those who want a “real” college experience. Even though I don’t live on campus (but have friends who do), I still know what it’s like to be staring at blank white walls thinking, “What can I do to make this space more me?” Especially having worked a seasonal job, I have to make my money last for a while, so I don’t have a lot to work with. I know there are a lot of young people in my situation, so I scoured the Internet for tips to create a trendy bedroom on a budget.
Washi Tape (approx. $5 per roll)
Washi tape is a Japanese masking tape with cute designs and color options. Like painter’s tape, it can be removed without leaving gunky tape residue, which makes it perfect for decorating bare white walls you’re not allowed to paint. You can use the tape to create a border around your room, to line bookshelves, to create wall designs, to make frames around your posters to make your collection look more cohesive, and a million other things. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas on how to use washi tape. At about $5 per roll, this tape won’t break the bank and you can design your room the want to your heart’s content!
Make a simple headboard (approx. $15)
Making a headboard for your bed seems like a difficult task, but this one is easy to make. The materials you will need for this project is cardboard, a printed fabric of your choice, hot glue or fabric glue, tacks, and scissors.
Living in a dorm room or tiny apartment can feel so uncomfortable, especially when you can’t be in your own cozy bed. However, you can make a temporary headboard out of the materials listed above to make your room homier, and here’s how.
Obtain the cardboard. The sturdier the cardboard, the better for this project.
Measure out the width of your bed so the headboard will be the right size.
Place the cardboard on the flood to keep it flat while you work. Draw a design on the cardboard for your headboard. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be, but remember you have to cut it out and fabricate it.
Cut out your design.
Have the fabric flat on the floor. Trace the shape of your headboard onto the fabric, keeping two or three extra inches of fabric to be glued onto the cardboard.
Glue the fabric to the cardboard, wait for it to dry, and then tack to your wall above your bed.
Make a side table (approx. $20)
If you’re not allowed to bring in extra furniture, spray paint an inexpensive wastepaper basket in a color of your choice, flip it upside down, and use it as a side table.
Get some plants (approx. $5 per plant)
White-washed rooms can feel uncomfortable and sterile, so bring some life to the room by getting some small potted plants. The colors of the plants can bring the room to life instead of making it feel uncomfortable, sterile, and claustrophobic.
Customize your push-pins (approx. $5)
You can hot glue or super glue anything to push-pins to customize them and have one-of-a-kind pieces. Why waste money on funky push-pins at Staples or Office Depot when you can make some yourself with faux gems, push-pins, and super glue?
Use shoeboxes as storage (approx. $10)
Shoeboxes can be used as excellent under-the-bed storage space for those who have small bedrooms. Get some paint and craft supplies and decorate the boxes. Every time you pull one out, you get to see the masterpiece you created before you grab the item you’re looking for.
Polka-dotted walls (approx. $10)
Do you love polka dots? Then make a polka-dotted room! No paint is needed for this project, just some colored paper, painter’s tape, and scissors. Cut circles out of the colored paper and then use the tape to stick the dots on the wall and you’re done!
Make dorm-safe candles (approx. $20)
Most college dorms ban traditional candles, but you can still get the romantic mood lighting you want by making it yourself. Get some mason jars and decorate them with paint to give them some color and put in battery operated tea lights. The tea lights are much safer than real candles, and you can buy them at a variety of places — Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, Kmart, CVS, and Walgreens are a few places you can find tea lights.
Create a jewelry display (approx. $35)
This is the most expensive project on this list, but this is something that can be used over and over again throughout your years at college and beyond. If you don’t already have one, purchase a corkboard from your local office supplies store (if you have a CVS or Walgreens or RiteAid close by, they have corkboards as well), outfit it with printed fabric (you can glue the fabric to the board or just use push-pins to pin it on), and use pins (perhaps the decorative pins from this list after you make them) as hooks to hang your jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets.
Buy a photo album
In this digital age, everyone has their photos stored on their phones or computers and shares them with the world. However, I think it’s a good idea to have at least one photo album with the most special photos, the ones you will look back on when you’re out of college and you are working at the career you’ve always wanted. There is no approximate cost on this project because you can’t put a price on memories. Find a photo album that suits your needs and take the time to make friends, spend time with your family, and make memories that will make you smile every time you look at those photos. You will be glad that you decided to buy a photo album that you can pull out whenever you are feeling nostalgic.
For less than $130 (not counting the photo album), you can have the most fashionable bedroom on or off campus, and it will reflect your own personal style as opposed to being just an average white bedroom. Not only will your room look great, but you’ll have fun doing these projects, too. You don’t need to be a DIY expert (or even very crafty) to do these projects, and you, your friends, and/or your roommate(s), can make these crafts and decorate the rooms together.