College Lifestyle and Product Blog for Dorm Room Living | DormSmart: Can you really decorate your dorm room on a dime in today's economy? Seriously… Get the Dorm 411 To Make Smart Dorm Buys!

August 22, 2010

Can you really decorate your dorm room on a dime in today's economy? Seriously… Get the Dorm 411 To Make Smart Dorm Buys!

by Christi Leslie, Founder & CEO of
Creator of

Dorm Room Decor On A Dime... Making Budget Friendly Dorm Buys...

In today’s economy there is really no such thing as decorating your dorm room on a dime so it’s important for students on a limited budget to make smart dorm buys... to assess what they really need for their dorm room or campus apartment prior to spending their hard earned dollars. At DormSmart, we have this advice for college bound students decorating a dorm room on a limited budget:

Take or buy what you absolutely need first for your particular dorm room, the necessities, then add in extras as you can afford them... as you figure out what you really need . It’s that simple. Prior to buying your dorm room necessities, create a checklist or download our dorm checklist and establish a budget. While our dorm checklist may seem like a lot of dorm stuff, many items you can find at home so take inventory before making dorm buys to prevent overspending! As for those neat little extras, trust us when we say we will still be stocking them over the next four years! For now, just stick to those budget friendly dorm buys / dorm room necessities you cannot live without!

With that being said, I thought it might be helpful to students decorating a dorm room on a budget to gain a little insight about products being touted as dorm room necessities.I discovered many of these products while researching smart dorm buys for our student shoppers this year. It is DormSmart's opinion that these products can be safely CUT OUT of your dorm decorating budget. (Sorry... we only had room for the top five and we won’t be carrying these "dorm room necessities" at

  1. Multi-Day or Jumping Alarm Clocks: If you have a cell phone, it probably has an alarm feature that allows you to set multiple alarms for different days of the week depending upon your class schedule, so purchasing a separate alarm clock to do this for you or one that jumps around the room, annoying your roommate and neighbors isn’t your best option. Just use your cell phone to save money and precious dorm space! If you prefer a separate alarm clock, consider buying one where you can dock you iPod or MP3 player – multipurpose!

  2. Wall Tapestries For Dorm Bedding: I recently read where one retailer advised students to multipurpose their wall tapestry. Seriously, they recommended using it as dorm wall décor or as dorm bedding or as a window covering. While we like to promote multipurpose dorm products at, we believe this is taking the concept a little too far! If you have a limited budget, choose to buy quality dorm bedding so that you get a good night’s sleep. After all, the main reason for college is learning and a good night’s sleep is important for successful learning to occur, especially after those fun filled weekends or late night study sessions. You can buy your dorm wall décor at a later date or consider using removable and reusable peel and stick wall decals, very affordable and attractive.

  3. Blackout Curtains: Most of us do not have blackout curtains in our rooms at home. And personally, I have found that many teens, meaning mine, forget to close their blinds at night. Seriously … freshman year is tough enough and dorm rooms are drab… do you really want to black out that one ray of sunshine in your day? Besides, most colleges do provide window blinds in student dorm rooms. Cross black out curtains off your dorm shopping list and save your money for true dorm room necessities!

  4. Bedside Caddy: Prior to launching, I personally invested in a bedside caddy for my daughter to use in her dorm room. You know the one...the bedside caddy that fits securely under your dorm mattress. While the concept is great, I encountered two problems with this dorm room necessity. First, when you fill up the bedside caddy (tissue box, remote control...) it slides off the bed into the floor. I had to invest in grommets and hooks to make it work. Second, it blocked easy access to her under bed storage. It really wasn’t one of those great dorm buys after I had to spend additional money to redesign it to work on her dorm bed!

  5. RJ & Rosie

  6. Fake Pets: Again, this is another product I found at a competitor’s storefront. I am almost at a loss for words which will shock my friends and family. I can envision selling this to a five year old but touting it to a college student as one of those dorm room necessities or great dorm buys? Are you kidding me? If you are homesick or miss your RJ & Rosie (my daughter's mini dachshunds), I don’t think a fake pet that runs on batteries is the answer! Bring something from home that is meaningful to you, whether it is a stuffed animal or a keepsake (not too many) and save yourself $30 plus shipping. You can budget that money toward true dorm room necessities or a night out bonding with your new college friends!
So… while you may not be able to decorate your dorm room on a dime in today’s economy, you can cut out some of those "dorm room necessities" that really aren't smart dorm buys. They aren't worth your or your parents' hard earned dollars. Choose to buy dorm room necessities, such as quality dorm bedding, that will be supportive of your new college lifestyle while saving a little money in your budget! Just remember... once you get to your dorm room, you can always shop online for those smart dorm buys at and have them delivered to your college campus! Live dorm smart!


  1. Tell Dorm411 about some of the craziest dorm products you've seen on the market this year!

  2. How about a fire blanket!?! I've seen this advertised on some sites. Most dorms have sprinkler systems (including my daughter's dorm built in 1880's has been retrofitted with sprinklers). If your dorm is on fire...get out! It would probably take longer to find the "fire blanket" than it would to get out of the building.

  3. Great insight! Thanks for sharing! Keep them coming!