Inexpensive Ways to Decorate Your Dorm

I remember when my parents first dropped me off at my new apartment in UC Davis. After many hugs, I sat down on the edge of my thin, hard mattress and I realized that I was truly alone for the first time in my life. Whether you're living in a dorm or an apartment, college housing can be daunting, filled with cheap furniture, questionable carpeting, and roommates that you have absolutely nothing in common with. However, with a few simple touches, the dreariest of rooms can become a peaceful haven from the chaos of learning to deal with new people and unfamiliar places. Anna Johnson, author of Savvy Chic, says that the key to making a room feel like yours is to put your mark on the place. There are very easy, inexpensive ways to do this (I know you're probably a little low on cash right now), so take a look and be encouraged!:

Rearrange the Furniture

If you have the room and it makes sense to do so, don't be afraid to rearrange the bed and desk to make your space more comfortable. This might not be possible if you have a bunk-bed or are crammed into a room with one or two other roommates, but keep this idea in mind in case you end up deciding to rent an apartment. The simple act of moving furniture is a powerful physical reminder that you have control over the space you are paying for. Make your room your home by sheer determination!

Clean Like Crazy

If you are one of those creative geniuses who work best surrounded by clutter, I shake my head and ask that you move on to the next idea. However, if you're like most people, a messy room is only going to make you feel stressed and disorganized. You can always make time to clean (I spend about 5-10 minutes every day tidying my room, it's good therapy), and there's nothing more peaceful than coming home to a tidy bed and clothes neatly folded away in drawers. So, turn on some music, make a pile of things to donate that you didn't wear anyways, and get ready to love your room!

Always Have Fresh Flowers

While fresh cut flowers can be expensive to maintain, small potted plants are not because they last so much longer. Studies suggest that plants decrease stress and promote feelings of peace and relaxation, and who doesn't need a little bit of that these days? When your potted plant kicks the bucket, simply replace it with a new one so you aren't depressed when you wake up to a pile of dead leaves on your nightstand every morning. Want an even cheaper option? Take a small drinking glass and fill it with hand-picked, tiny branches of greenery and a few flowers. Branches last longer than flowers do so you won't have to replace the greenery as often, and you can tie a ribbon around the glass to dress it up a little bit, like I did in the picture. The ribbon was re-used from a present, talk about inexpensive decorating!

Don't Underestimate the Power of Pictures

If you're feeling homesick or want to make your room feel like yours, place a special framed picture on your nightstand. Whether it's of family, your best friend, or your significant other, every time you look at the picture you will be reminded of your support group back home and that you're not really alone. To keep your nightstand from looking cluttered, I would suggest that you hang any other extra pictures that are important to you on the wall, or pin them onto your cork-board for a boost of happiness throughout your day. You can find a picture frame from places like Ross or Marshalls for about $5. The one in the picture is a little over $4, found on sale at Kohl's.

Talk to Your Roommates

You can always find something to like in every person you meet. Take some time to get to know your roommates, and you won't feel like such a stranger! Your roommates might be feeling as stressed, homesick, or bored as you are, and you could even make a new best friend over the months. It's great to have a buddy or two for Yoloberry trips, spring cleaning, or good old girl time.