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Dorm Decor Week: Luxury Style on a Budget

With college starting back up, The Lovely Side is going back to its roots for a full week of dorm and college decorating ideas. Kicking it off, I want to share an inspiration board and sources for creating a dorm like this one recently featured on BuzzFeed:

Two Ole Miss freshmen, Lindy and Abby, co-decorated their dorm with items from TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Pottery Barn, and local shops—and got some things (headboards, pillowcases, bedskirts) custom-made. 

It's adorable. It's luxurious. It's not your typical dorm. And for many of us, it may look like an obstacle of champagne style on a beer budget. But it doesn't have to come with an extravagant price tag. (Dorm photos by Lindy Goodson)

Bargain hunting and do-it-yourself projects are perfect roommate-bonding activities. So get together with a little cash, a lot of thrifting, and a little creativity to pull together a similar look for your dorm.

Follow Thrift Decor Chick's tutorial to DIY your own tufted headboard for under $100.

Scavenge grandma's attic, local thrift and secondhand stores, and antique shops for a small, curvy, feminine dresser or cabinet that you can transform with a coat of white paint. Spray paint the hardware gold or replace it entirely. Though I'm not sure I'd tuck the microwave into a such an enclosed, tight space. I think on top of the mini-fridge might be a safer, better spot—sometimes you have to sacrifice style for safety. ;)

Make your own or order inexpensive prints from Etsy—put it in cheap white frames from Walmart. If you want to get fancy, spray paint your frame gold.

The ones pictured above go for $45 a piece at Hobby Lobby. But you could surely nab two for that price by hitting up one of HobLob's 50% off sales.

Gold Letters
I've seen big gold letters for cheap at Hobby Lobby and other craft stores. I've also seen big wooden letters for cheap at the same stores as well as the craft section of Walmart—just begging for a coat of metallic gold spray paint. Cut the cost by just doing your initials. Or splurge by spelling something out.

Curtain Panels
You can inexpensive sheers from JCPenny, Walmart, Target, and TJ Maxx—or for even cheaper at Dollar General or Family Dollar. Don't be afraid to hit up the dollar stores for basics.

Storage Ottomans
While you could get a regular ottoman for cheaper, $45 is a pretty great deal considering that these serve as both seating and storage—which is a must-have in tiny college living spaces!

Cute Pillows
You don't need to get these custom made. Hit up Target, TJ Maxx, and even Amazon for throw pillows in pretty patterns and colors. I personally recommend the pillow section at Dollar General and Family Dollar, too—I've scored some adorable pillows at both bargain shops.

Faux Fur Rug
This one is $45 from Target. You don't need a big one to make a big impact.

Abstract Art
You might be able to find a bargain on art at TJ Maxx, but this would be a great diy project to bond over with your roomie, too. Just search Pinterest for "diy abstract art," then hit up your local Michael's or HobLobs.

Spring for a basic, inexpensive bed-in-a-bag for your comforter and sheets. You can dress it up and change looks by accessorizing with different blankets and throw pillows, like that soft metallic throw blanket from Target. 

TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Kohls, and Gordmans have great little knick-knacks and decorating objects for less than $10—don't miss the clearance displays! (You can sometimes score great deals through "fancier" places like Macy's and Pottery Barn Teen, too!)

Bonus Tip
You don't have to do it all at once! Decorating your dorm is so excited that you may want to buy everything at once and have it decorated perfectly by the end of your first week at college. But don't sweat it if you can't afford it. Buy a few things you can afford to get started. Then take your time scavenging bargain bins, clearance aisles, and dollar stores for other items that will work. Another fun activity to do with the roomie, btw! Plus, postponing some of the shopping allows you two to bond and ensure both of your styles/personalities shine through in the final product.

What's next?

Any challenges you're facing with decorating your college living space?

Any inspiration boards or styles you'd like to see on the blog this week?

Leave a comment or send an email—and it might get featured during Dorm Decor Week!


I love all the gold! (Especially the gold letters.) When I was in college, I had about 0% interest in decorating... But if I could do things over, I would definitely spend a little time making my place look cute!


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