10 Easy Ways to Decorate your Dorm for Cheap

dorm bed with lamp

College life is fun. It’s exciting. It is your most formative years as young adults with guaranteed good times. Your college years might be some of the best years of your life – just ask any college graduate. And the college dorm is a big part of this experience. Whether your freshman or senior year, decorating your college dorm room takes time and effort. This space becomes one of the ways that you get to showcase your personality. And you don’t have to have an interior designer to create your dream dorm room. Here are ten ways to decorate your small space and where to shop for college dorm decor.

1. Bedding in a Bag 

First things first, you must have the right dorm bedding. You will spend a lot of time in this space, and your bed will be the room’s focal point. Your room may already have an existing twin bed, so finding the right sheet sets and the comforter is essential for a good night’s sleep. You can pick up a bed in the bag at Walmart as they come in many beautiful colors and styles, including twin xl, a standard size for dorm rooms. Bed in a bag is a great all-in-one option to style your bed because it includes every piece needed for a bed, including a bed skirt, comforter, and sheet set, and sometimes it even comes with throw pillows. Target is another fantastic place for a more trendy option. While at Target or Walmart, don’t forget to pick up storage bins and bed risers to elevate your bed and allow additional storage under the bed. With limited space in college dorms, finding as much real estate for storing your items is essential.  

dorm bed with bedding
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

2. Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are fantastic for adding a pop of color and an extra touch of comfort to your space. And if you feel extra daring, you can buy a set of faux fur pillows, which are super soft and stylish. You can find these at Five Below online or at a store near you for only $5. They are lush and plush and will liven up your college dorm room. I can’t tell you how much I love these, and the best part is that they look even better in person. Another great place (which I love) is Ross Dress for Less. They don’t have much of an online presence, but if you are lucky enough to have a physical store in your college town, you can get great prices and great deals on home decor.

3. Photo Wall

You will create many memories while in college. A photo wall is excellent for displaying such memories, and it can be done in a cute fashionable way. Stop at your nearest dollar store (Dollar Tree or Dollar General), pick up a few picture frames, and create a nice gallery wall to showcase your photos. You can also check out tips on my recent post on 14 Best Decor Items to buy at the Dollar Tree. 

4. Door Organizer

Door organizers are the best dorm decor for space-saving. You can hang them over a door – any door. Door organizers are a great way to store your small items and nik-naks. You can even store your school supplies and bed bath items or use it as a pantry/snack organizer. Door organizers are multifunctional and a cheap way to create extra storage in your room.

5. Bedside Lamp

Bedside lamps are great for reading in bed or while studying at your desk. It is especially significant if you have a roommate you don’t want to disturb. You can grab a cute little lamp from Target for under $10 that matches your room’s color palette. It’s a bonus if you can find one with built-in USB ports.

dorm bed with lamp
Photo by Christopher Jolly on Unsplash

6. Wall Decor

The dorm wall is one of the most prominent features of the room that often get neglected. Those brick walls could use some love too. So, let’s change that by adding neon signs, removable wallpaper, or displaying your favorite quote with wall decals. There are so many cheap dorm decor items available on Amazon that would make excellent wall decor. And if you have Amazon Prime, then online shopping is the way to go. You can wait until you have settled in to get a good idea of what you want and then order for the next day with free shipping.

7. Mini Fridge

A mini fridge is a must in a college dorm. The mini fridge is essential for storing water bottles, juices, snacks, and other items that must be kept cold. You can go for a more standard, basic-looking mini fridge, or you can go for a cute retro fridge that is also a decorative statement piece. You can start by searching online marketplaces such as Offerup or Facebook Marketplace because this is one of the few items that may come with a higher price tag. If not, then Walmart is the next best place to find it. While at Walmart, you can also grab a coffee maker, which you will need for all the late-night study sessions and early morning classes.

8. Fairy Lights

Fairy Lights, also known as string lights, can make a great addition to a room. Some might say they are best for festive and holiday times, but they can add a more whimsical and cozy feel to your dorm room. Just string it above the bed, on the wall, or around the door; it is so multifunctional.

dorm bed with fairy lights

9. Shower Curtain

If you are lucky enough to have a bathroom that you only share with one or two other people, then you have to make it count. Shower curtains come in so many different colors and styles. Don’t forget to also pick up your shower caddy to bring items back and forth to your room.

10. Accent Chair or Seating Area

If your dorm room permits it and you have the extra space, add a cute accent chair to spruce up the room. A seating area or accent chair will be a great addition for when your friends come over, and they will have somewhere to sit – instead of on top of your bed. You can also add some pillows to the floor as an extra seating area for when your friends stop by. You want them to enjoy your space and keep coming back. Start with a trip to Ikea to find an accent chair. Ikea is a good place to find exactly what you need.


As a recap, here is a list of the best places to shop – from online retailers and in-store – for dorm shopping and dorm room essentials.

Other stores to consider:


In addition, I would highly recommend that instead of only shopping at the big-box stores, consider the local small businesses. Many colleges have local shops where you can get college dorm essentials and home decor items. Many of these stores get most of their foot traffic on the move-in day from college kids or when school is in session, and they could probably use your help. They may have an added perk for being new college students or attending a nearby university. So support the local and small businesses in your college town – your support can make a huge difference.

I hope you like these dorm room ideas. There are lots of dorm stuff to get you started. For other ideas, check out my recent post on the 7 Best Small Apartment Decorating Ideas on a Budget

Good Luck in the school year, and Happy Shopping.

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Hi! I'm Tamara White