Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Last updated: 2 days ago

A pauper’s guide to personalized dorm room ideas

Photo Yara Van Kessel/The Ubyssey

You might be living in your dorm or apartment under a one-year lease, but the effort you put into personalizing that space will pay off in the long run. Good decor can turn your home into an inviting, unique conversation starter, especially if you surf the thrift store scene for cheap deals. Use the dorm room ideas below to embark on a mini home improvement project with a student budget and without Martha Stewart-esque domestic skills.

Treat your wall like a blank canvas

Simply taping up pictures of friends and family seems to be the standard in dorm room decor, but there are more sophisticated alternatives at your fingertips.

Start by browsing the magazine and photography book sections at local thrift stores and secondhand bookstores. A two-page Doctor Who spread in a vintage magazine will be more original and way cheaper than a brand-new poster at the Imaginus poster sale in the SUB.

Next, get creative with how you display your found clippings. Rather than using tape or tacks, consider hanging your fandom art from clothespins or wire clotheshangers.

For a slightly more ambitious project, you can make your room resemble an IKEA catalogue by hanging up 10-15 mismatched frames scrounged from a garage sale or Value Village. Just remember that square, rectangular or diamond shapes work best together.

Alternatively, find old maps at secondhand stores. They are beautiful on their own, so they’re super easy articles for decorating bare walls.

Spell it out

If you are a lover of words and quotations, display your favorite film lines or Shakespearean quotes over your bed or desk. Vinyl stickers are the quick option, but they work better on windows or mirrors. Instead, you can cut out large letters from loose magazine pages or simply print them out on a computer for a more precise look. If you want to avoid putting a bunch of unnecessary holes in your walls, you can safely attach your cut-out letters with sticky tack. For a quick DIY project, you can also pull a thread through each letter and hang the quote as a garland.

Get creative with curtains

Nothing can change your room as significantly as your duvet cover and curtain. Be on the lookout for eye-catching top sheets, table linens, flags or even scarves. Use them as a top sheet or hang them over your dorm curtains. You can also use the same fabric as a curtain for an open closet or a spread for your couch.

Remember: when the sun comes up, your room might turn into the colour of your new curtain, so don’t buy fabric with a dominant colour that you hate waking up to.

Reuse and recycle in style

Save your old jam jars for multi-purpose storage that doubles as decoration. Fill the containers with anything from pens, brushes and flowers to colourful buttons or even loose tea. There are also countless tutorials online for reusing containers as creative projects. Some of them include DIY snow globes, glitter jars and glowing firefly jars.

Old beer and wine bottles are ideal as vases, but they are also useful for organizing your accessories. Stack your watches and bangles around the neck, or hang earrings around the mouth. If you have Christmas lights, try sticking them into old glass bottles for some subtle decorative illumination.

Useful tools to have on hand

Sticky tack or painter’s tape are a renter’s best friend. Similarly, wooden clothespins are great for displaying photographs and postcards; just attach the clothespins to the wall using sticky tack.

As for storage, wine crates are the most aesthetically pleasing form of mobile shelving; stack them in any configuration you want. Find your neighbourhood wine dealer, as they might be selling them for cheap.