Dorm décor on the cheap

Tips for making living on your own stylish and affordable

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It can be tough to ferret out the places where you can find cheap but awesome stuff to personalize your living space. Here’s a handy list of places you may want to hit up when your room or apartment is starting to feel too much like a prison cell and not enough like home.

Mix, don’t match

No matter where your campus is located, there’s a Goodwill retail store not far from you (visit for locations). Though everything in the store is used, it’s the perfect place to pick up kitchenware, like plates, bowls and glasses for cheap. You’ll rarely find full sets intact, but the fun of shopping in a thrift store is that you get to pick your favorite pieces – in addition to the “World’s Best Grandma” mugs, you may also stumble across some beautifully aged mason jars, vintage Pyrex glassware and shabby-chic oddities. If you’re on a super tight budget, hit up the Goodwill Clearance Center (7531 S. Orange Blossom Trail). For a little more international flair, scour the shops that line the Little Saigon area of the city’s Mills 50 neighborhood. Asian markets and gift shops are the perfect places to pick up fun, interesting and unusual tchotchkes. Dong-A Imports (706 N. Mills Ave.,, for instance, carries a surprisingly expansive array of Lucky Cat figurines, wall hangings, lanterns and more.


A great way to personalize your space on the cheap is with cool posters – but where to find unique stuff that looks more chic than shabby? You can always order stuff from sites like Etsy or Society 6, but there are also a handful of great places to shop locally. Lure Design has an awesome selection of one-of-a-kind gig posters they’ve designed for bands, cult classic movie posters and more – many for as little as $20. Check out the selection at or stop by the storefront at 1009 Virginia Drive. For old-school band posters – particularly hair bands and ’80s bands – stop by Rock and Roll Heaven (1814 N. Orange Ave.). Hang these up with removable Command Strips (available anywhere office supplies are sold) and you’re good to go.


To save money on frames and to bring all your friends, family and pets with you while you’re on your own, hang pictures from clotheslines around your room. Buy twine and clothespins at a craft store (Jo-Ann Fabric has stores at 825 N. Alafaya Trail and 3562 E. Colonial Drive; you can also check out Sam Flax at 1800 E. Colonial Drive,, which is an awesome art store where you can pick up tons of other ideas for cool DIY projects), hang between two walls in a corner of your bedroom, and clip up all your photos.

“I like your accent”

Accent pieces, like end tables, chairs and bookcases, are what fill in the nooks and crannies and make you feel at home at your new place. Find vintage and antique items at rummage sales, thrift stores and antique malls. Check out the sprawling Adjectives Market (1215 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, – totally worth the field trip, trust us) for tons of cool, old stuff and some surprisingly affordable finds, or Atomic Junkies (2300 Edgewater Drive), which has an awesome selection of ’50s, ’60s and ’70s items – sure, you could drop a small fortune on midcentury modern, but shop around. You will absolutely find a handful of small splurges that won’t blow your budget.

Need more ideas? Head to our website at and click the tab labeled Annual Manual for our insider’s guide to the Orlando area.

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