Written by Celia Monroe
Are you a broke college student wishing to turn your drab little room into a fab little home? Here are some new ideas on just how to do that, without breaking the bank:
Paper is an essential material for any college student. But have you ever thought of using it for more than tedious school work? Many of you have probably heard of origami, the art of paper-folding, and it’s actually not as hard as it looks. Simple instructions to make cranes or flowers can be found with a quick Google search. Using different colored or patterned paper can add personality to your room and create a fun or interesting theme. Because origami is made from paper, it can also be drawn or written on, depending on preferences, and the size can vary with each new creation.
Paper can also be used to make small and unique decorations for your door or refrigerator or anything else in your room that is currently a bland necessity. And if you think you don’t have time to craft then think again! Doodling on the backs of old receipts, wrappers or even homework sheets and tests can be an efficient way to make progress in a boring class.
Every student on campus has access to cardboard boxes, but those boxes aren’t just cubes of trash to be discarded into campus recycling bins. By removing one side and covering it in plain paper, or even festive wrapping paper, it can become a decorative storage container. Each can be filled with miscellaneous items to keep your stuff organized or to make everything appear neater than it actually is. They can also be placed on shelves to create a handmade drawer or makeshift filing cabinet.
If your room is lacking in furniture, boxes can also provide nice tables or footstools. By tightly packing several boxes inside of each other, slightly decreasing the size as you go, the outer box will become more sturdy and stable. You can also decorate the boxes however you please. And if a glass gets knocked over and spills on the table or it becomes stained by some other mysterious substance, you can easily discard it and replace it with a brand new one.
Many of our world’s most delicious foods comes in the form of jars, and by delicious foods I mean peanut butter. But any jar can always be used even after it’s empty. It can be painted or bejeweled to create a fancy place to store pens and pencils or electronics cords and earbuds. It can also be a nice place to store loose change instead of leaving it in drawers or at the bottom of bags. Having a singular place to store loose pennies and nickels can be helpful, especially for poor college kids who need every last cent. Jars can also be used to store candy if you’re working on gaining the freshman 15 or as cups if you don’t feel like washing your dishes.
Campus is famous for its free T-shirts. They can be found at a variety of different events, especially at the beginning of the semester or at rallies and fairs. While free clothes are always a plus, one can only wear so many Miami shirts at a time. Instead, the sleeves could be cut off and the material used to make a pillow. Easy instructions can be found online to make a quick tie pillow and it doesn’t require any sort of artistic talent, just a pair of scissors. And if you don’t have anything to stuff it with, start saving all of those stray socks you find in your laundry. Contrary to popular belief those can, in fact, be used for something.
Shirts can also be cut and hung on the wall or used to make banners or curtains that show school spirit. Or if you want to leave the shirts in one piece, place them on a childhood teddy bear along with a pair of those free Miami sunglasses to personalize your bed or desk. And if you’re really crafty you could try sewing the ends of the shirt closed and looping a string through the edges of the neck hole to make a drawstring laundry or storage bag.
Drinks often come in the form of plastic or glass bottles that can add an interesting quality to your room. The tops of the plastic bottles can be cut off so that the body can be filled with water and used as a vase for flowers. And if you don’t have any real flowers you could use the origami ones that you made in No. 1. To weigh down the bottle for any fake flowers you can try using colorful rocks, marbles or candy. The glass bottles can be placed on your desk and if you have any free koozies from campus events you could place the bottles inside them to add to the decoration. Both bottles could also be filled with colored liquid or glitter for a more colorful quality.
6) Coffee filters
For those of you who make your own coffee, the filters can be used to create little tie-dye ornaments. If you color the filter with marker and then spray it with water the color will spread to form a starburst pattern as the marker bleeds away. The filter can then be hung or cut further to make different shapes.
Small rocks can be picked up anywhere and painted or sharpied to make intricate designs on their surfaces. Inspirational words or quotes can also be written on them and then they can be placed in bowls or baskets to brighten up a room. The rocks can then be used as paper weights or motivational reminders to stop watching Netflix and finish homework.
Another commonly distributed item that you can find for free at Miami events is a bead necklace. They’re usually cheap, plastic ones but they’re bright and colorful as well. Stringing many of them together can make a curtain for your door, closet, or window to conceal your clothes or hide the sunlight. They can also be hung from hooks on the wall or from bed posts as an extra decoration or the individual necklaces can be attached to handmade pillows for a unique flare. Beads can provide a festive feel around the holidays and can be color coordinated to match other items in the room.
9) Cans, Cups and Cutlery
When going to the dining halls, students have unlimited access to plastic silverware and cups. These, along with empty cans, can be used to create more modern pieces of art. While some of you may be inclined to build fork sculptures or can pyramids, here are a few more ideas for you. Mobiles can be made from these supplies and hung in entrances or from the ceiling. These can also be strung together to make chains or curtains the same way that the beads can, if you have string or yarn to tie them up.
Old buckets, like paint buckets or pickle buckets, can make great furniture for a room. Wrapping the lids in fabric and decorating the outside with paper or markers can result in a nifty chair or stool. These are great because the inside can then be used for storage if you remove the lid. It can make a sturdy stepping stool to reach the top shelf of your closet and also double as a table if need be. Buckets are also effective trash cans and coolers if you add trash bags or ice respectively. Though it’s not common knowledge, restaurants such as McDonalds have been known to give away pickle buckets for free if you simply ask for them.
11) Corks, Bottle Caps and Pop Tabs
Corks, bottle caps and pop tabs are all common items that can be easily collected and saved. They can then be used to make several fun decorations. Of course, they can also be strung up to make curtains, but when glued together they can make handy picture frames. Cork specifically can be sliced into thin circles and, when glued onto a piece of cardboard, can form a makeshift message board. The cardboard can come from any old box and the whole thing can be hung on the wall and used to keep notes or hang artwork using thumb tacks or pins. Cork boards are highly convenient and can hold anything from photos to flags. Bottle caps can be used to make little magnets or buttons on for pillows and jars.
Blankets can make the perfect cover up in the winter, but there are many other things they can cover, too. Empty wall space, for example, can be easily covered with a big blanket and can make the entire room feel less like a hotel and more like home. If you ran out of posters or there’s just too much white, it can be quickly fixed with a beautiful quilt. Blankets can also double as table clothes. If you made a table out of boxes or buckets as mentioned above you can make them appear more attractive my throwing a blanket or sheet over the top. Other items like trunks or tubs that originally transported clothes or electronics to your dorm can be covered with fabric and made into a side table.