Design on a Dime: decorating your dorm on a budget

Emma Austin

Jewelry Organizer

Lost earrings and tangled necklaces are no fun! Try keeping all your jewelry in one place by repurposing an old frame to create a unique wall display. Search the flea market for a frame with a fun design and buy some paint in your favorite color to give it new life. After removing the glass and backing, glue a few pieces of ribbon or lace across the center to hang your jewelry from.

Photo Display

One of the cheapest ways to personalize your dorm room is with photographs. Try clipping photos to a string of Christmas lights, which you can hook along the edges of your ceiling for year-round memories and cheer. Or, repurpose a fun flea market find to use as a photo frame or board for a unique decoration. Clip photos to the spokes of an old bicycle wheel, or mount photos behind an antique window frame.

Extra tip: Most photo centers give you the option to print square photos, which make a tidy display and are perfect for your summer Instagrams.

Disguised Safe

Hollow out an old hardcover book for a place to hide money from your roommate’s prying eyes. Use an Exacto knife or a box cutter to slice along a marked border to create a cavity in the pages. Brush the walls with decoupage to seal the pages, then glue the back page to the back cover to secure it. Place a weight on the book while it dries to help the pages dry straight and evenly.

If you can’t bear the thought of defiling one of your own books, take a trip to a half-priced bookstore or flea market and take your pick from variations of Chicken Soup for the Soul or copies of old textbooks riddled with political incorrectness.

Desk Storage

Stack and glue mason jars together to make a pretty desk organizer for storing pens, pencils, paperclips and other supplies. Or, use it for make-up brushes and tools for easy access.


Find a stencil you like online and trace it multiple times on sheets of scrapbook paper with different colors and patterns. Cut out the shapes and attach them to a piece of twine or string using tape or glue. Hang the finished garland on your walls; anything from triangles to elephants is a fun way to add a pop of color to brighten up your space. If you’re feeling extra crafty, replace the cutouts with handmade yarn pom-poms.

Reporter Emma Austin can be reached at (270)745-0655 and [email protected].