By: Julie Clark Robinson
Description : Everyone knows that going to college is an expensive proposition. You'll have tuition to pay for, books to buy, meal plans to choose from and transportation costs to consider. Decorating your dorm, however doesn't have to overextend an already tight budget. You can add your own unique style to any space, even if all you have to work with is four plain walls, a floor and a ceiling. The first place to start is with your roommate. Check to see what (s)he is planning to bring so that you don't waste any money on the same thing. Then, be sure that you understand what you really need to come up with versus want you want. Next, it's time to get creative:
1. Who gets your business? One of the biggest gems when it comes to dorm-room shopping is the Salvation Army or thrift shop that's close to campus. The students who moved out of dorm rooms last spring likely stopped their first to unload the items that they would no longer be needing. Other than the thrift store, don't waste your time and gasoline driving from store to store looking for bargain, just browse online.
2. Cover up boring walls. Painting dorms isn't usually an option, but there are several other ways to bring some color and visual interest to dorm walls. Fabric, tacked into the ceiling against a wall, adds texture, warmth and any color that you and your roommate can agree on. Or, how about starting a collage? All you need is a big piece of foam board hung on the wall and the rest will evolve throughout the year as you college concert tickets, pictures and posters. What's more, if you come across a friend who is an art student, it can't hurt to ask them to contribute to the project.
3. Don't buy carpet when you can save with throw rugs instead. Think about it -- you pay for carpet by the square foot, so why cover areas under furniture such as beds, desk and dressers? Instead, buy a few strategically placed throw rugs to soften and warm the floors for months of spreading out on the floor to study.
4. Keep looking for treasures. In order to separate your room from everyone else's that you know, there are ways to combine form with function that can be uniquely your own. For example take the basic student crate that most use for storage, and weave plush fabric throughout the openings for a splash of color and texture. Dated desk and floor lamps can be made to look modern with a simple lampshade update. A plain waste basket can be painted with sponges to incorporate a design that appeals to you.
Creativity is the thrifty student's best friend when it comes to putting together your first home away from home. You have a big year ahead of you, so do your best to create a nurturing living environment as you go along.
Julie Clark Robinson is a highly prolific higher education writer. Her special interests include online college degree programs for adults, and financial aid opportunities for students enrolled in online degree programs.