Low-cost furnishing tips to help decorate your room



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Lights and an illuminated IU sign hang in the living room of an off-campus house in Bloomington. Sam House

When you’re functioning on a college student’s budget, sometimes it seems that one Starbucks drink is out of reach, let alone furnishing a dorm, apartment or house.

The interior design inspiration boards on Pinterest can set a high standard for how your home away from home is supposed to look like, but it can be difficult to create a replica of those aesthetically pleasing spaces without breaking the bank. With these money saving tips, you will have your space looking just like the Pinterest room of your dreams in no time.

  • Buy multi-functional products. Not only will this save space in small rooms, but will also be cheaper than buying multiple items. For example, a storage ottoman can hold shoes inside, but also serves as seating and can create an accent piece.

  • Upcycling second-hand furniture, whether that be with painting, sewing on new fabric or even adding pillows, can allow you to create an item that fits your space’s aesthetic for less than market value.

  • If you are financially able, buy a few higher-quality items that will last longer . In the end, it will be cheaper than buying replacements every year.

  • DIY decor pieces that will be one of a kind using inexpensive craft supplies or common everyday items.

  • Sometimes changing small details can make a world of difference. Keeping the same duvet cover on your bed and changing the pillows, or even just changing the knobs on a dresser will allow you to vary your space year after year without having to buy a whole room of new items.

  • Use mirrors to give the allusion that the space is bigger than it actually is. Additionally, the mirrors can serve as decor and come in handy when wanting to see if your outfit matches before you leave the house.

Around Bloomington, students can find affordable furniture, decor and common household items at stores such as Walmart and Target. For large-scale furniture and help with small space living, students can order online or make a short road trip to Ikea in Fishers, IN.

Buying used furniture is another way to not only save money, but take part in helping the environment. The Hoosier 2 Hoosier sale happens at the beginning of the school year in partnership with Sustain IU where items are collected during the student transition process and then sold back to students to limit consumption of newly manufactured items. 

IU Surplus also sells unneeded university property that changes regularly, with all proceeds contributing back to the school to support students. 

The IU Classifieds is an online marketplace where students can sell books, home furnishings and other items to other students. There are also classifieds listed in the newspaper.

The Internet can also serve as a useful tool when searching for an entire collection of home supplies, or just for helping to find the one perfect item to fill blank space on an empty wall. Students can browse Amazon for almost anything they need to live on their own, and can sign up for a discounted Amazon Prime membership for more discounts.

Overstock is another useful website that sells returned and surplus merchandise from other stores for a fraction of the price. Wayfair, H&M, Nordstrom Rack and Hayneedle are other outlets to buy discounted home decor and uncommon pieces.

Home furnishing shopping may sound complex, but looking around before settling down to buy items can ensure that students have the best price they can get. Whether it be in Bloomington or online, there are a multitude of options for students to find exactly what they are looking for for less.

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