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4 Fun (and Budget-Friendly!) Room Decor Ideas

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

In my freshman year of college, I walked into my dorm with absolutely no idea how I wanted to decorate it. By the end of my freshman year, I honestly still didn’t know how to decorate it; but hey, at least my walls were somewhat less sparse.

Thankfully, I’m no longer a freshman, and after spending an embarrassing chunk of my sophomore year scrolling through Pinterest in pursuit of a room glow-up, I finally decided do something about it. Here are some of the simple and affordable ways in which I’ve learned to make my space more fun and also feel a bit more like home.

1. Go thrifting

As a massive proponent of thrifting whenever possible, I knew that “go thrifting” would have to be at the very top of this list. Goodwill and Salvation Army are my most frequent haunts. Local thrift stores almost never disappoint, either. I’ve been super lucky to find a lot of yard sales and flea markets in New England where I’ve secured lamps, jewelry boxes, and other trinkets to use as decor. It’s also a great way to explore and interact with other members of your community, which makes the experience even more exciting!

2. Make your own art

This is probably the best way to decorate your room while also giving it a personal touch. Even though I don’t normally call myself an artist, I find that the process of creating something is incredibly fun, especially with friends. You could also make it even more exciting by turning it into an art exchange, in which you and your friends gift each other with art and put them up on your walls. As far as art supplies go, I almost exclusively purchase mine from the dollar store because I honestly don’t trust myself with professional materials, but when I’m feeling confident I pretty much always find myself back at Michaels.

3. Get a mirror

By which I mean, get many mirrors. Mirrors have this strangely transformative effect on your whole room. They produce the illusion of expansiveness, making small spaces look less narrow or compact. They also make rooms look brighter, so in case your room doesn’t get a lot of natural lighting, you could place mirrors across from a window to reflect the sunlight, or use them to reflect the artificial light in the room. It’s also a great place to paste little sticky notes with messages for yourself, like to-do lists or little notes of self-love and encouragement!

4. Use old newspapers and magazines

Newspapers and magazines almost always have a section dedicated to art or photography, and that section is almost always the best place to find stuff to put on your wall. The New York Times in particular has a lot of beautiful art scattered throughout its pages, and I’ve definitely had way too much fun making mini collages on my walls with cutouts from newspapers. In case you have any older newspapers or magazines lying around, you should definitely scan them for something you like before recycling them!

All of these are pretty basic and definitely not unheard of, but they’ve truly allowed me to come up with creative ways in which to decorate my space in a way that’s also pretty affordable. I hope everyone has the best time making their dorms and rooms both fun and comfortable this semester!

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Madhura Sengupta

U Mass Amherst '23

Madhura is a sophomore majoring in Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She loves film, music, literature, discussions about social issues, and 1990s animated TV series Moomin.