Thursday, February 22, 2018
Home and Garden

Design Recipes: Try these affordable dorm DIY projects

It's quickly approaching that time of year again, when thousands of college students head back to school. Whether a dorm room is shared by a single roommate or many, there are ways to make it special without breaking the bank. Here are some easy-to-make DIY ideas, guaranteed to glam up any dorm decor.

Create a collage

Many college students arrive wanting and needing a sense of home. One creative idea is to create a large, collage with treasured photographs.

• Purchase a large picture frame. You can either choose to hang one large one or a large picture frames hung in a series.

• Choose the photographs you wish to display.

• Group the photos in a creative way. One option is to place on a colorful background, made using construction paper, wallpaper or gift wrap.

• Glue photographs on background.

An instant wall mural

Even though it may be someone else's dorm room next semester, there is nothing wrong with you infusing a little bit of personality of your own while the room is yours. While painting is an affordable and easy way to add temporary color and personality, removable wall stickers are one of the hottest trends in wall decor right now. From basic designs to the elaborate, they can truly be the design highlight of any dorm room.

• Paint wall a solid color, or leave white if you prefer.

• Purchase affordable wall stickers.

• Peel and place forming your desired design.

Make a study desk

While I'm sure your dorm room will come with its own desk, there's nothing wrong with creating a study area to reflect your own design taste and personality. From refinishing a desk purchased at a thrift store to painting or lacquering a raw piece of wood and placing in on a decorative base, there are lots of ways to jazz up study time.

• Purchase a wooden desk at a thrift store or flea market (or plain piece of wood, such as a door slab, and trestle leg bottom if using).

• Sand off the existing finish using a rough sandpaper.

• Paint desk all over using a high quality paint primer.

• Paint desk using a high quality paint in an eggshell finish (a little sheen will help enhance the look of your finished piece).

• Replace hardware if desired.

No-sew curtain panels

This is one of my most favorite DIY projects ever. Grab some affordable fabric and some fusing tape and you are good to go. All you need is a hot iron to fuse the seams together.

• Purchase fabric double the width of your enclosure opening.

• Purchase a grommet gun (these both punch holes and insert grommets).

• Fold your fabric on the bottom at the desired length; add tiny weights if desired.

• Place fusing table in between your hem.

• Use a steam iron (on steam setting) and place on top of hem, causing the fusion tape to melt and create your closed hem.

Affordable toss pillows

Toss pillows are relatively affordable and the right pattern and or color can really add impact. If you want a budget- and craft-friendly idea, why not make toss pillows from affordable scarves?

• Take two scarves of equal size.

• Face your scarves toward each other with the side you want to expose on the inside.

• Place fusion tape around three sides.

• Use a steam iron (on steam setting) and place on top of hem, causing the fusion tape to melt and create your closed hem.

• Stuff your pillow with batting or with a down insert.

• Close the fourth side by hand using a hand stitch.

Cover used books with decorative paper

Not sure what to do with those books from last semester? Covering hardcover books with beautiful printed or decorative patterned paper is a great way to display books and incorporate a decorative element into your decor at the same time.

• Take an old book (with a hard cover).

• Fold a piece of decorative paper the same length and width as your book when extended.

• Fold paper along edges of book.

• Cover book.

Treasured items placed in shadow boxes

Shadow boxes are such a beautiful way to display mementos and even those items that you may have thought about packing away for good. Postcards, treasured photos, ticket stubs, etc., all work well with multi-dimensional items such as buttons, coins, souvenirs and mementos.

• Purchase frames with an inset at least 1 inch deep.

• Open the frame, leaving the original matting in place.

• Place your decorative items in the center of the frame (on paper within the borders of the matting).

• Adhere decorate items to paper using a glue gun.

• Close frame.

Instant artwork: framed wallpaper

Today, wallpaper isn't what you might remember as a child. Prints are bold, colorful and in many cases textured. Nearly all retailers that sell wallpaper allow potential buyers to take home free samples. The sample sizes are usually always substantial in size and perfect for framing.

• Purchase an affordable frame.

• Take a piece of sample wallpaper.

• Frame wallpaper and hang.

Easy-to-make artwork: framed pieces of fabric

When it comes to affordable/instant artwork, this tops my list. The beauty of fabric is you can buy it by the yard. Can't paint? Why not buy yards of printed fabric and stretch it over a frame made of plywood? The result is a colorful print. You can also frame smaller pieces to hang.

• Purchase an affordable frame.

• Take a piece of fabric.

• Cut to size.

• Frame fabric and hang.

Creative note/tack board

Whether it's a way to post a visual reminder about an upcoming test or leave a note for your roommate that it's time for them to do the laundry, tack boards are functional and a staple for dorm rooms.

• Purchase an existing corkboard.

• Wrap cork board with batting.

• Cover in a bright, bold fabric.

• Criss-cross your favorite ribbon using an alternating pattern.

• Add upholstery tack pins and hang.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at .


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