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Perfect Everyday Items for Dorm and First Apartment DIY

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Every young adult dreams of their first home-away-from-home space—lavishly decorated and having a lot of items for your dorm or space; a product of their exquisite tastes. Whether this space is a college dorm room or a first apartment it is completely yours; a testament to your independence. You’ll want to go crazy and start picking out bedding, furniture, and the perfect accent pieces.

Once faced with the reality of student debt, minimum-wage, and phone bills, however, young adults have to quickly re-imagine their first living space. Chances are that it won’t be the Buckingham Palace that you imagined as a child. I mean have you glimpsed rent prices lately? Or see the “multipurpose” (read: small) shared dorm rooms for freshmen? With a diminished budget and outlook on your new living space, it is easy to become discouraged. Fret not! There are tons of Do it yourself (DIY) items for your dorm or projects floating around on home improvement blogs and Pinterest to infuse your living space with easy, affordable style.

Check out these top ten everyday items that are perfect to get you started in the home decor DIY realm.

10. T-shirts

t-shirt rug DIY
Surely everyone has a few old t-shirts that could be re-purposed into a colorful rug or mat. There are whole blogs dedicated to ways of reinvigorating old t-shirts. While a number of these DIYs are meant for fashion purposes, there are also some surprisingly creative ways to turn clothing into decorative pieces. If not a rug then perhaps a waste paper basket, pillow, or framed art.

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9. Books

book lantern DIY” title=
For the bibliophile, a surplus of books is easy to come by when you keep your favorite reads from each college course. After a while this stockpile of books may seem excessive, or more importantly, take up precious floor or bookshelf space. Easy solution: turn those classics into decorative shelves where you can display – you guessed it – even more books! For the less interesting books that you kept solely for their attractive covers – admit it, we’re all guilty – turn the covers into decorative storage bins and use the pages for DIY paper lights as items for your dorm. If you’re feeling particularly bold create a statement wall using books as wallpaper.

8. Picture frames

chalkboard picture frame DIY
Big, small, silver, gold, ugly, or ornate, picture frames are a staple in every thrift store for a few dollars at most. Pick up a few frames that catch your eye and transform them into handy chalkboards with special chalkboard paint. Surprisingly, chalkboard paint isn’t as expensive as one would think; running around $10 per can. Chalkboard paint can be bought as liquid paint or spray paint and comes in a variety of colors. Stick with classic black for a stylishly versatile accent piece.

7. Mason jars

mason jar DIY
The hipster essential, mason jars instantly add a rustic vibe when incorporated into interior design. These jars are perfect as storage containers for candles, bathroom amenities, and even mini herb gardens. Get creative with clear mason jars by busting out your art supplies – paint, paper-mâché, glitter, studs, or whatever you have lying around.

6. Corks and bottle caps

cork wreath DIY
Corks and bottle caps are usually thrown away without a second thought. Stop right there; you’re tossing out valuable DIY opportunities! Imagine saving, dating, and labeling each wine cork with the eventual intention of creating a cork wreath. Not only are cork wreaths eye-catching but yours will be a collection of memories from unforgettable drunken nights. Bottle caps can be used for graphic visually-appealing table tops. Other ideas include cork boards, bottle cap coasters, and cork mats.

5. Beer bottles

beer bottle flower vase DIY
Beer enthusiasts rejoice – there is a foolproof way to explain that mound of empty beer bottles. Just say you’re starting a collection of your favorites for decoration purposes. Beer bottles instantly give your space a sleazy dive-bar appeal, but in that hip millennial way. Display them on shelves as is or paint the bottles to use as decorative vases.

4. Wine bottles

wine bottle lights DIY
Your average twenty-something treats wine like water. In fact, studies show that millennials drink about 27% of wine by volume in this nation. All of those wine bottles have to go somewhere. Rather than lugging those bottles down to the recycling while trying to explain away your weekend binge drinking to your nosy neighbor why not proudly display your drinking habits to close friends within the comfort of your own home. Wine bottles can be decorated similarly to beer bottles or left untouched with the various cheap wine labels prominently displayed. No shame for that $7 Moscato. It made your roommates lip-sync to Beyoncé at 2am and tasted like the nectar of the gods; mission accomplished. Although there is a more elegant DIY that turns those wine bottles into a decorative light piece.

3. Polaroids, posters, photographs

Polaroid collage DIY
If you’ve ever stepped foot into a college dorm room then surely you’ve noticed the student-version of decorative wall art – a collage of unframed posters, photographs, and Polaroids. There are plenty of DIY projects to create unique wall art out of bits of images and scraps of paper. Start collecting meaningful postcards, notes, and images in order to create a stunning display of visual ingenuity.

2. String lights

string lights DIY
College students have already figured out that string lights are a decorating must-have due to their low price and versatility.

String lights are a must-have for all college student due to their low price and versatility. Bold-colored rope lights can be added underneath a raised bed to make a statement. Soft white flower lights can be draped around a window for ambient light. Lights aren’t constrained to being hung on the walls or ceilings of a room, try stuffing them inside a mason jar or wrapping them around a vase. Moreover, if you haven’t noticed, string light DIYs are everywhere. Try a few Google searches for string lights to spark your inspiration.

1. Masking tape

masking tape wall design DIY
The masking tape is the number one under-appreciated everyday item essential in most DIYs. Masking tape turns any old thing into a DIY masterpiece. Throw some tape on an ordinary object in a funky geometric design or chevron pattern and then paint. Or get decorative, colored masking tape and leave it on the object for pops of color. Whether it’s a whole wall or just a couple metal cans, masking tape and paint can completely transform a blank slate.

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To this end, when it comes to decorating on a budget the sky is truly the limit thanks to creative and inspiring DIY home improvement ideas. A little time, patience, and creativity will transform your dorm or first apartment into the luxurious home that you imagined. So, bust out those glue guns and start stockpiling wine bottles.


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