Dorm living can be fun, but outfitting a dorm room can be expensive if you’re headed to college for the first time. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, college students and their families planned to spend $5.9 billion on dorm or apartment furnishings in 2017.
The last thing students need is to spend a fortune on dorm decor, especially given the high costs of college. It’s probably your first home away from home, so you might want your dorm room to be a space that resonates with you. By following these tips for decorating on the cheap, you can end up with an awesome, affordable space that you’ll be happy to call your own.
1. Buy the minimum
When you’re shopping for a dorm room, here’s the first and most important thing to remember: Your space is extremely limited. You don’t want to buy unnecessary stuff that will end up getting in the way.
“Keep it as uncluttered as possible,” advised Francis Toumbakaris, an interior designer with Francis Interiors who was featured on HGTV’s “Brother vs. Brother” series. Your school probably will provide the basics, including a bed and dresser, and will send you a list of dorm room essentials to bring. Avoid buying anything that’s not on the list, at least until you see how much space you have.
You also should coordinate with your roommate to make sure you don’t end up with duplicate items.
2. Get double-duty furniture
When buying dorm furniture, make your items serve double duty to make the best use of space.
“Trunks, open crates, and other storage items make great TV stands, and often are available in fun colors and patterns,” said Claire E. Tamburro, an interior designer who is the principal at Tamburro Interiors LLC.
Ottomans with interior storage are great because they serve as extra seating when friends come over while also providing a place to put your stuff. Toumbakaris recommends bringing a tall table you can stand at while preparing meals or sit at while eating or studying.
3. Invest in storage solutions
Dorm rooms provide limited storage, so be smart about shopping for storage solutions. Tamburro recommends storage crates that fit underneath desks, as well as wall-mounted storage to free up floor space.
See if your dorm dresser will fit in the closet. “Most closets will then allow for shirts to be hung on the clothes rod over the dresser, and longer items such as coats, suits, pants, skirts, and dresses to be hung in the open space,” she said. With the dresser tucked away, you’ll have more room to move around or place other furniture items such as your TV stand or desk.
4. Turn trash into treasure
One of the best ways to keep your budget for dorm decor low is to find free items. Dumpster diving or looking for discards is a great way to get cool stuff at no cost.
“Find out when people take out furniture and larger items as garbage for the city to pick up,” advised Toumbakaris. “Having been a New Yorker for 18 years, during my first years in the city, I was able to find some incredible treasures that people were getting rid of for garbage collection.”
Tamburro said dumpster diving, which might be a dicey option, could help you outfit your dorm if luck prevails. “Many apartment complexes with high turnover are an incredible resource of discarded items,” she said. “Saturdays and Sundays are the days to ‘shop.'”
Toumbakaris and Tamburro agreed a coat of paint could spruce up the items. However, Tamburro said you should clean all discards thoroughly and stay away from certain items such as mattresses and box springs.
5. Light it up
In small, cluttered spaces such as dorm rooms, it’s important to make the place feel airy and open. Making your dorm bright and cheery can help.
One obvious way to brighten up your dorm is to invest in a good lamp. “Good strong lighting is very important,” Toumbakaris said. “Many times, dorms have weak overhead lighting, and people in dorm rooms try to supplement it with short desk lamps alone.”
Tamburro also recommended being strategic about the colors you select for furniture, bedding, and other dorm decor. “Dark colors protrude into a space and light colors recede,” she said. “The smaller the space, the lighter the color palette should be to feel more open.”
Her advice: Pick your favorite color and use different shades to create depth and interest while keeping visual noise to a minimum. “Monochromatic color schemes make a room feel less cluttered,” she said.
6. Shop smart online
Shopping online for dorm essentials can be another way to keep costs down because you often can find bargains. Toumbakaris said students could shop for online deals on websites such as Craigslist, Ikea, Kmart, Overstock, Target, Walmart, and Wayfair.
Comparison shop carefully before you buy to find the best bargains and use sites that help you save money when shopping online, such as RetailMeNot, which lists coupon codes. Flyers about sales during the back-to-school season can help you find bargains as well. You also can set up alerts on deal sites such as Slickdeals.net to receive an email when a deal is posted for something you need, such as a dorm fridge or extra-long twin sheets.
By shopping carefully and being strategic about which items you buy, you can keep your spending low and end up with a dorm room where you love spending time.
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
4 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of January 4, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.