How To Furnish Your Dorm Room On A Budget


When you are off to college you are going to be so focused on your studies and college life that you’ll have little time for work. Which means that you’ll need to budget wisely to avoid being the stereotypical broke college student.

The problem is that furnishing your dorm room can be quite expensive. Between the furniture and decorations, it can add up fast. The key is to plan ahead so you can do it on a budget and not break the bank. In this article, we will go over how you can do this with a few tips to think about.

Look for sales

Used with permission of Emily Followill

Many furniture retailers have showrooms that are always in need of stocking up with the latest trends and new lineup of a big brand. Which means that there are frequent sales happening to clear out some space. When beds, couches and chairs have been taking up space for too long, you are in luck as you can get them quite cheaply.

Look for retailers near your college campus as they cater to students on a budget and usually have some good space saving furniture to choose from as a bonus.

For example, The Roomplace Chicago IL, is a furniture store that always has low prices for furnishings of all types. If you are in that area, then keep checking for when they have sales.

Just the essentials

Dorm room with bed, desk and pictures on the wall
Photo by Albert Vincent Wu on Unsplash

Try to not overdo it with furnishings that will only take up a lot of space and make your dorm feel even more cramped than it already is. In the process, you will actually save money, too because you aren’t over buying.

It’s easy to want to grab a bit of everything because after all, this room is going to be your home for quite a while. The idea is to make it as homey as possible, while still giving yourself space to move around and saving money at the same time.

Essentials are things like a desk so you can study and use your computer. It will be used quite a bit so consider that a priority. Then other smaller items like a hamper for your dirty clothes, or at least a bag, will be vital as you won’t have a place in a bathroom unless you have an ensuite.

Then, a good shelf with compartments where you can store your things in a very organized way is going to go a long way toward making sure the space is livable. In fact, focus on storage like containers on wheels that can slide under your bed and hanging shelves that can go on a clothing rack so you can maximize your space.

Buying furniture that is multifunctional is also an essential. You may not need an ottoman, but if you have one that also has storage in it then this is helpful.

Look for upcycling opportunities

Used with permission of Emily Followill

People these days are very hesitant to throw things away that can’t be recycled so there is less stuff filling up the landfills. As a result, many people will post things online that they no longer need and are not looking to sell. You can score lots of useful furniture in decent condition by scouring some of the sites like Craigslist, local forums and Facebook groups for your area.

If you are moving to a university town like Boston, you can even take advantage of being there in the fall when the graduating class are throwing things away. The stuff they are putting out on the curb as trash is usually in great condition which is why it is dubbed Allston Christmas. All you need is a truck to pick up everything that you need and it won’t cost a dollar.

Also, spread the word amongst your friends and family that you are looking for furnishings. You may have a relative that recently graduated college, or is upgrading their furniture and looking to give away their old stuff.


If you are even the slightest bit handy, then you can actually make a lot of the furniture that you need for your dorm. And it can even be mostly free aside from the nails and screws needed to build it. Look for pallets that you can get for free just about anywhere.

Then, scour Youtube and even some DIY forums for plans for furniture. You can make yourself a custom desk exactly how you like it and with the perfect measurements to fit into your limited space. Even shelves can be made easily so you have a way to store your stuff that doesn’t cost any money.

Thanks to all the companies linked above.


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