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Style > Decor

5 Steps to Take to Thrift Your Way to the Cutest Dorm

Let’s face it: the dorm and apartment décor industry has become huge, and much of it just isn’t affordable. But nobody wants to live in a bland room, and nobody has to when so many trendy and unique pieces can be found for a fraction of the price at thrift stores! Here are five things to do prepare to go thrifting, to help achieve the living space of your dreams without breaking your budget.

Related: This Peel & Stick Wallpaper Completely Transformed My Apartment, You Guys 

Recognize your style goals & how to achieve them.

Defining your style and finding stores that match your vibe is an important first step in your design project. For instance, if you prefer more stylish and modern décor, try shopping at a local consignment shop. Many of these stores stay up-to-date on trends, only stocking pieces that are currently “in”, and can offer really impressive discounts at the same time. On the other hand, if you prefer décor with a more eclectic or unique vibe, then check out your local Goodwill or Salvation Army–these stores tend to carry more vintage styles. Thanks to modern technology, another great option is thrifting online! Craigslist, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace are also a good place to start looking for treasures, as long as you’re smart about how you make the handoff with the seller. 

Get organized, honey!

Next, create a list of exactly what you are looking for. Thrifting can easily become an endless rabbit hole of useless trinkets that are just going to take up space you don’t have. I’ve made the mistake of walking out of Goodwill with a bag full of items I’ll never use so believe me, you’ll regret the purchase when it’s sitting in your closet collecting dust. An easy way to keep your reckless shopping under control is to make a list! If you’re really organized, you could even make a list for each room or area you are planning to decorate, along with a corresponding budget. Also, be realistic with your space! Dorm rooms can be pretty tiny, so any furniture will definitely be limited by space. Less will always be more when you’re working in a tight space, so aim to keep it minimal. 

Be sure to do your research.

Figuring out how often a store cycles through items will keep you from wasting any time that could be spent binging The Bachelor or doing a face mask. There is truly nothing more disappointing than heading out for a day of thrifting only to find that the store has the exact same items as they did three weeks ago. Depending on each store’s size and traffic flow, new items could appear every day or every month. Ask an employee or consider calling ahead of time to decide when to plan every thrifting adventure. 

Ask for help.

If any of your friends or family enjoys thrifting, too, then ask them to keep an eye out for any specific items you’re looking for.  Thrifting can be exhausting, and it’ll help greatly to have a few more pairs of eyes looking for that perfect item. Or, bring a friend along to help you cover more ground while thrifting–you never know what hidden gems a they might catch!

Be creative! 

Lastly, it’s important to always, always keep an open mind while thrifting. Many items will be unconventional and even a bit weird, but try your best to think how it could be redesigned to fit your specific needs. A quirky mug could become a new succulent planter or that dated sofa could be transformed with a few cute throw pillows. If you find something especially outdated or beaten up, check out Pinterest for some creative inspiration.   

First-time thrifting can easily start to feel overwhelming, but don’t give up on the low-budget apartment or dorm of your dreams! Keep looking no matter how tired your arms become, and always remember something as simple as a fresh coat of paint can breathe life into something old.  Happy thrifting everyone!

Freshman journalism major at the University of Arkansas. Lover of cheeseburgers, golden retrievers and adventures! You can almost always catch me thrifting, trying new foods or hanging out with my besties. Woo Pig Sooie!