Design Your Dorm Room (on a college student’s budget)

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
August 9, 2015

August is upon us, and there are “back to school” messages everywhere. If you’re heading off to college, however, “back to school” means more than brightly colored folders, lined paper, and new clothes (although we highly recommend all of those things). It means making a dorm room your home for the school year—but we know the budget for the “make yourself at home” process can come with a price tag.

Here are some of our tips to keep the dorm room revamp on a student’s budget:

1. DIY your decor.
From curtains to cover up those dorm room blinds, to using thrifted frames to display family and friend photos or favorite quotes (inspirational, humorous, or otherwise)—the internet is full of simple “upcycle” do-it-yourself projects. Some of of our favorite places to look are and Dunn DIY—but you can also find them all over Pinterest.

2. Create a functional, comfortable desk environment.
As a college student, it’s likely that you’re going to be spending a lot of time at your desk. Creating a functional, comfortable desk environment can make a big difference in your work! Can we tell you a secret? (Ok, it’s not really a secret.) Goodwill has lots of desk supplies like lamps, chairs, three hole punches, staplers and more. Once you have shopped Goodwill for your desk supplies, head back to tip #1 for how to make it personal! It’s amazing what you can do with a little Mod Podge and spray paint!

3. Organize it up.
While colleges do a great job of providing basic organizational tools—like a desk, closet, and dresser—additional pieces can be crucial to staying organized. Adding a shoe rack to your closet, or a small set of filing drawers to your desk, or even something as simple as baskets to your bookshelves, can help make a tight space feel more organized.

Making the switch from your bedroom at home, to a shared dorm room, can be a difficult one—but having a plan to make it feel like home can help ease the transition. Of course—we highly recommend working through the decor details with your new roommate! It’s also a good roommate bonding experience to go thrifting together… view our location finder to see which location is closest to your campus! 


Kim fancies herself a professional communicator. She has experience in writing, graphic design, and social media, and is always looking to expand her knowledge base into other fields of communication. She loves people, coffee & Seattle (including the rain).

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