Easy College Student Room Ideas to Organize on a budget

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There is no more exciting time than returning to college or university after the summer break. With that first year under their belt, college sophomores have to find other living arrangements. Their stay at the college dorm is now old news and its time to move into an apartment or a shared house.

We did this a few years back with our daughter and came up with some easy college student room ideas for a fun, fresh and organized look for her new digs.

Benjamin Moore – using paint to shed light

You need to start somewhere and choosing the right bedding is usually the best place to start. Getting that colour scheme right will bring the whole colour palette together. If you haven’t chosen the colour scheme, the next best thing is choosing a neutral colour for the walls.

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We started with a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White. You can never go wrong with this calming shade of white. Although this picture does not do it justice, cloud white is a soft, warm white. It brightens everything up and creates a neutral base colour.

My daughter also decided to paint the side tables. They were ones which resided in our guest bedroom but need a new home. The off-white hue blended in nicely with the white, navy and pink palette of the bedspread.

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With Benjamin Moore’s Advance Cabinet and Trim paint, the makeover task was simple. A quick change of knobs put a bit of fun into finishing up the project. After searching in Home Depot, Lowes and Rona, surprisingly, we picked up the pretty checkered board pattern knobs at HomeSense.

Area Rugs

This large basement room had very little natural light but good overhead lighting. We added a large light rug to create a warm, soothing vibe. No question, basements can be dreary and cold, so the added benefit of walking on area rugs makes these Canadian winters easier. We purchased this rug for a reasonable price and matched it to our anchor colour palette – the bedspread.

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Decorative Touches

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This room was large enough to have a dedicated sitting area. We paired a floral loveseat and bookshelf with a round side table. Although not modern it was free and that is what makes student room makeovers fun – use what you have or have handed-down!

Years ago, l picked up the print on a museum visit and it seems to fit this generation well (l’m 100% sure my Gen X uni years were no different). I know through the year, she changed up a bit of the decor but kept the colour palette consistent.

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To cut up the effect of having one large piece of furniture, we separated them and put together this little vignette on a small round table. It had a make-up mirror, perfumes and a silver bowl with a black and white picture to tie it together. The table was provided free from the previous occupant and l had two round table clothes at home. Once agsin, easy college student room ideas for cheap.

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You don’t have to spend a fortune on decorations. A stop at Goodwill or a thrift store will be enough to pick up small accessories. Whether they are plant pots, boxes, magazines holders or artificial flowers. You can find easy college student room ideas. Just use your imagination.

Organizing Solutions

This particular room had no closet. The landlord provided two wardrobes (as the room was rather large). This did not provide enough storage so we needed to improvise.

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A quick trip to the dollar store and IKEA provided cost effective solutions. The white bins were used for bras, underwear and socks. The purple fabric cube helped organize her sweaters.

Stackable white wire baskets were also useful in organizing bulky items like hoodies.

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The second wardrobe held more of her everyday clothes, baseball caps, belts, purses and other sundry items.

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These purple fabric containers come in different colours and patterns. They are very reasonably priced if you have an IKEA nearby. If not, they have similar ones at Walmart which are slightly smaller.

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Lastly, for a girl that loves to style her hair when going out, we needed a simple solution for her hair accessories. In the past we had kept them here but we were using that container at home for other things.

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Once again, Winner’s to the rescue. For my American readers you’ll head over to Marshall’s or TJ Maxx (same company, different name in Canada).

We found this over the door hair appliance organizer. She can store her hair brush, flat iron and curling wand all in one place – neatly tucked away in one of the wardrobes.

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Overall this makeover provided easy college student room ideas for a fun, fresh and organized look. We had fun putting this room together, unfortunately, she only lived here for just over a year, before the pandemic hit and she came home.

She has sinced moved into a new house with 5 new roommates in a new city. We used many of the same pieces but updated the colour palette for a more mature student room. We are almist done the new student room makeover for 2021. I never grow tired of setting up her new home base. I know once it’s all done, she’ll feel right at home!

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Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.

10 thoughts on “Easy College Student Room Ideas to Organize on a budget”

  1. What a fun room. I lived in a dorm all four years of college, so my first thought was, “Wait, in Canada, you’re allowed to paint your dorm room?” (I’ve never even lived in an apartment building where tenants were allowed to paint!) But this is a charming room, and I love how it was transformed from a basement dwelling to a chic and cozy living space. And I loved the over-the-door appliance organizer!

    • In most Canadian universities you are onlt guaranteed residence in first year. After that you have to find student housing. Imagine 6 young men or women in one house and two bathrooms. Crazy.

  2. It’s that time of year again with college students moving into dorms or apartments. It brings me back to when our daughters were at that stage. There were a lot of moves during those years, but eventually, things settled down. It’s amazing all the ways you can create a “home” with paint, thrift store purchases, repurposed items from home, and other inexpensive items.

    This weekend, our daughter, who lives in Boston, shared a phenomenon that is happening there now. This time of year, thousands of students are moving out and into apartments and dorms. With the moveouts, people leave their discards (but excellent stuff) on the sidewalk in the neighborhood she lived in. And then people moving in pick through and take what they want for free…giving it a new life. She said they call it “Allston Christmas.” Allston is for the neighborhood.

  3. What a piece of luck your daughter found a room this big! And that she has you to help her furnish it, organize it and and make it feel homey! My daughter’s room this year is more on the cute side, so her choices were limited by the size of the space but we still had fun setting it up together. P.S. I love that blue and white rug!

  4. I love it! I have two in college right now. One is renting a house, and one is in an apartment. I love going to discount stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and HomeGoods to find items for the college apartment. Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Ah yes, went through this stage with both of my girls. I don’t think we were allowed to paint in either place, but there was a fair amount of IKEA furniture assembling going on. I remember my husband got one girl’s bedside table ALMOST complete and then there was a major part missing. Needless to say, a frustrating moment. In the end, it was a lot of fun to help them get a bit more space (and privacy), and I think it felt like one step closer to “adult” living. The spaces are still tight, so these organizing ideas are terrific.

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