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August 23, 2010

Big Design on a Dorm Room Budget

Does being on a budget mean you can't access beauty?  I don't think so.  Fences simply teach us to build more creative ladders to go beyond them.  I can't tell you how many people say they'll start to add design and color to their space when they have more money or time or when they own a home.  The time is now!  Add some clever ideas that will get your friends talking about how chic you are!

Ikea dorm room 

Photo via Ikea 

Some of the best budget design ideas I've come across happen in college.  That's the time when ideas are big and budgets are minimal.  Talking with some friends, we were reminiscing upon our days of personalizing our college dorms and apartments.  In retrospect, I'm not sure why we thought that plastering posters of our idols was the only option.  Today, dorms, rented rooms, and apartments can become full force statements of design even with spare change. 

Here are a few ways to inject design, color, and fun into your space.

Have a Seat.

Swap out your college issued desk chair for something with style.  You can buy something fresh and fun that adds a ton of personality into your room or you can buy, barter, or find a vintage piece that drips with character and stories.  

I found this mid century style chair for $49.95 on Ebay.  It would look fabulous with simple new upholstery and a new color on the wood.  If you're opting to paint furniture, be bold.  A gorgeous violet like Twilight Magenta 207430 or an electric green like Paradise Green 2131-20 looks great in the right proportion.  Consider using your school colors in this way.  My Longhorn Orange would have been fabulous with a fabric like the one below.

Wood Upholst Desk chair 1

$49.95 for this chair!

 Cotton black white red fabric

$6.95/yd for this fabric

Longhorn orange 

Buy your favorite paint colors at your local store or here.  My choice is University of Texas at Austin Longhorn Orange...Hook em'!

Or if you're not in a big DIY mood, buy a chair that's already a simple and colorful statement like this one from Ikea.

Ikea Snille Pink Chair
$19.95 for this Pop of Color from Ikea

The Devil's In The Details.

Any great designer knows the importance of the right details.  Accessorizing with little finds that feel worldly, worn, and personal adds a feeling of comfort and trend to your space. 

Heard of freecycling?  The idea is what we learned in Kindergarten-- sharing is caring-- Freecycle connects you with others in your area who are looking to simply give things away to keep them from landfills.  Get a houseplant, furniture, or a bike-- you never know what you may come across.

Of course, don't forget about estate sales, Etsy, Ebay, Home Goods or any local favorite thrift stores where you can find beautiful things that add layers of beauty to your space without leaving deep holes in your wallet.

Upcycled Jewelry Magnets

$16 for 3 original jeweled magnets

 Switchplate Madrid 
$5 for this switchplate that will turn on style in any room. 

Add a Little Life.

I remember my little beta fish in college- he added a lot of color to my day!  Consider a colorful, yet simple fish tank or plant to add some fresh air to the space.  I love these orchids that are inexpensive and super easy to care for- just add 3 ice cubes once a week and it thrives.  Look at this smoky color I found!

Just Add Ice Orchids are a great find and here's how you can support both orchids and the environment in an easy way.

Leave a Message.

You can create a simple chalkboard calendar or message board in some clever ways.  Pinch Design out of London created this for an office, but it can easily be used to keep you on task all year, too.

Chalk Calendar 1
Image Pinch Design via Apartment Therapy Ohdeedoh 

Pinch design used wooden blocks coated in Chalkboard Paint.  You can also buy canvas boards and paint them since they are lightweight and can be propped up or moved around without any trouble.  Find them here starting at under $.50 each for a 4"x4" board!

See how the Lovely Undergrad rounded up more great chalky ideas here.  Plus, look around on her site for some fantastic ideas on living the great undergrad life in style!  Armed with a quart of Chalkboard Paint and some imagination, what beautiful ideas will you have?

Cork Board is another alternative.  Buy corkboard tiles in modular sizes and paint them in any color you choose.  You can still stick messages and photos on the cork and add a flattering hue to your room, too.

Just Add Color.

A friend recently said she really wanted to use Crushed Velvet 2076-10 on one wall of her new apartment, but everyone is telling her she's crazy to paint and have to repaint when the lease is up.  I shared these two ideas with her.

Painting girl

First, plan to use Aura when you paint back to the original color.  It covers in 2 coats and is self priming, so you can paint your favorite deep or bold color quickly today and know that in no more than two coats, you can paint it back to the standard issue greige (yuck) that you started with when you leave.

Floor cloth modern
Creative artist Lisa Gaumond has created one of my favorite modern floorcloths that shows how to bring in color so well!

 If you're still roller-shy, try this age old idea that's getting some new life.  Paint a floorcloth.  Floorcloth is made from a canvas that's meant to be used on the floor as a rug.  It's more well known in the historical and country comforts kind of style, but you can really adapt it to any style you choose.  And, a floorcloth can be hung like a tapestry using a ceiling mounted drapery hardware or really strong wall tape.

Create Some Tension

Take a look at your closet door.  Can it be removed?  If so, one college student (Jessie Oliver, winner of Benjamin Moore's Envision Color Student Design Contest) says take it off!  She opted for a tension rod in it's place and hung a lovely fabric shower curtain with ribbons of fabric linking it to the tension rod.  What a space saving, style-adding idea!

Fabric Shower Curtain Overstock
This lovely curtain is under $25 here

Ribbon Shower Curtain

Or make your own curtain by simply attaching ribbons with a quick knot or bow and letting the ribbon flow freely.  The colors you choose for your ribbons will change the mood of your space instantly.

Those are just a few of the many things you can do to add some legendary looks to a temporary space.

Still looking for more ideas?  I like these from Stylehive and these from Emily over at Material Girls.  I'm gathering up some images of real rooms and apartments to share soon.  If you want to share your dorm or apartment style, send in pictures!


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Hello. First of all, thanks for sharing with us this awesome information. Definitely will read it again. Thanks for the time and keep up the good work.

Those chalkboards are going to be nifty. That way, you'll be able to keep track of the things you're gonna do, and the things you've already done. This is certainly a plus for your responsibility points!

You can do whatever you want when it comes in room designing or home designing. Since this one reflects with your own personality, you are free to choose what you like. You just need to control what you are doing, putting so much decorations too is really bad for the eyes but no decorations would look your room so plain.

Great deal. It's not easy to have decorative a dorm with not much budget. Wow you made it and its amazing! I like the board it's very cute. I want to follow that and make my own.

I heard his deal with the other morning, taped, in Spanish. The person includes a attractive accent, superb pronounciation and delivery! I adore this dude. He's excellent for our occasions! Dios te bendiga!

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Love the pink chair from IKEA. Exactly what I've been looking for!

What a great idea to incorporate into a dorm room design! Thank you for thinking of Just Add Ice Orchids for this blog! Luckily for college students, taking care of Just Add Ice Orchids is so simple that all they need is 3 ice cubes a week!

i want this ribbon-thing RIGHT NOW....so adorbs..def would do one for the balcony door....

Lesli, Tell me you saved the article? That's so great! Love your shared perspective.

"I can't tell you how many people say they'll start to add design and color to their space when they have more money or time or when they own a home." This statement is at the core of my passion for design. Life is happening NOW, and this is the moment you have, there is no PERFECT, Beauty is always right there and it can be achieved at any cost!!! In fact, I had my dorm room in the University Newspaper when I was a freshman!!

How can I find the bulletin board in the IKEA picture? I can't locate in on their website.

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