10 Ways to Decorate Your Dorm or Apartment on a Budget

Moving into a new place can be stressful, but what can make it better is transforming it into a more inviting space. Here are 10 ways to spruce up your dorm or apartment without breaking the bank! 

1. Candles

Candles are a great, cheap way to liven up a living area. You can get them anywhere; just pick your favorite scent! However, if you’re in a dorm, be sure to check the rules on candles before using them. If you can’t use real fire, just sitting the candles in an open area can still look nice, or if you want to go a step further, an electric mug warmer will heat the candle enough to disperse the scent, and you won’t have to use fire. If you don’t want the hassle of a candle, lining a mason jar with thin, decorative paper and adding an electric tealight can give you the same feel without the worry of lighting a fire. 

2. Rug

The power of a rug to transform a space is often overlooked. It can tie a whole place together or change the vibe completely depending on the type you go for. They can be purchased at a low cost at a lot of stores, including IKEA, Target, and even local thrift stores. Adding a rug to your dorm or apartment will bring an extra feel of comfort without taking up too much room or requiring too much upkeep. 

3. Washi Tape 

Washi tape has become popular recently, and with good reason. It comes in a lot of different styles and colors, and doesn’t leave any residue when put on surfaces. This makes it perfect for decorating in housing that you don’t own, like a dorm or apartment. You can create geometric designs on the wall, or line your bookshelves with it, and take it off at the end of the year. You can buy it online through Amazon, or in craft stores like Daiso, Michael’s, and Jo-Ann Fabrics for only a few bucks.

4. Pillows

Like rugs, pillows have the power to really pull a whole room together. Whether you want to make your own or buy some from the store, they can be comfy and cute add-ons to any dorm or apartment. They can go on your bed or any type of seating you might have. Adding one to your desk chair can make a late night of studying more comfortable than ever!

5. Local Art and Posters

Do you love going to concerts or local art shows? Use that to your advantage and decorate using the items you get from them! You can usually buy posters from concert venues if you look for merch stands, but you don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want to. Pinning up your tickets from the events or the playbill can be just as effective. If you go to a local art festival, you could find some treasure for cheap, and support local artists in the community, so it’s a win-win. 

6. Plants

Plants can be an easy addition to any apartment or dorm, while adding a splash of color. Low-maintenance plants like cacti and succulents are your best bet for something that won’t die if you forget to water it, and if you’re not ready for the responsibility to be a real plant’s parent yet, putting some fake flowers in a vase can be just as pretty. Real-looking fake flowers are easy to find at craft stores, and they can be bought for a couple dollars each. If you’re feeling extra crafty, painting the pots can be a fun way to add your own touch of creativity to the decoration. 

7. Pictures

Pictures of family, friends, pets, or whatever you want can make a dorm or apartment feel more like home. You could have a few pictures in frames on your desk, or cover the whole wall by your bed with pictures. Putting pictures on the wall is a great way to display the pictures without having to buy frames. You can even use the washi tape mentioned above as a makeshift frame by surrounding your photos with it. Hanging your pictures in different patterns like a heart would be a creative way to make the space your own. 

8. Fairy Lights

Fairy lights, or Christmas lights, are a pretty way to decorate. You can get boxes for cheap after the holiday season, and use the all year round. Choose your favorite color or go for the classic white and drape them along the wall or ceiling. If you have a focal point in your room, use the lights to surround it. If you want to hang pictures up, use the lights as a string to pin the pictures along. The possibilities are endless. 

9. Curtains

Curtains seem like the last thing to get when you’re moving in, but they really can make all the difference. Adding curtains to your windows will soften the look of the room, while adding a bit more privacy. You can get very opaque ones that block out everything on the outside, or more translucent ones that let some light seep through, depending on what you prefer. You can even use them as a divider in your room for a little extra privacy from your roommate, or as a way to hide exposed storage. Stores like Target will have them, or you can find some online.

10. Tapestry

A tapestry is a great way to cover an entire wall with little effort. They can be a little expensive, but they’re durable and can be used for a long time. Find one with a color and pattern that appeals to you and use it to create an accent wall in your room. A quick Google search will bring up a bunch of tapestries to choose from, and there are always online stores like Amazon, so you’re sure to find one you like!