Design on a Dime for Small Spaces: PART 1

Design on a Dime for Small Spaces: PART 1

Design on a Dime for Small Spaces

This three part series walks you through the entire process of designing for a small space. Whether you are in the residence halls, an apartment or renting a house, this series will guide you through all of the steps from planning, to buying, to decorating. Stay tuned each week for the next chapter.



The best way to begin any design process is to make a game plan. The following steps can be completed in any order that works for you, and is a general guideline to executing a stress free decoration process.


1. Evaluate existing furniture
When you get into your new space, consider the existing furniture that is already there. Many pieces may seem to take up a lot of space in your room; at this point it is a game of Tetris. Move the pieces of furniture around until you find a configuration that leaves the most amount of open space. This may take a few tries to get the configuration down perfect, so grab a friend so you don’t get exhausted.

Human Tetris Pieces

Photo from

2. Pick your bedding
A good way to determine how your want to design your room is to find one essential piece you’d like to base your design around. One of the more expensive details, and largest detail you will purchase is bedding, so that is a natural piece to design around. Don’t be afraid to choose a bold color or pattern, pair bright solid sheets with a neutral, patterned comforter or vice-a-versa. Once you’ve established this base, it’s time to plan décor.

3. Find your style
College is a time of change and self-discovery, you may already know what your taste is, or you may want to change it completely. Drawing inspiration for your room can be easy and free. Type in “room décor” on Pinterest and start pinning away. If you see one detail in a photo that you love, make a note on the pin to help yourself when you start to gather items for your room. You may see a photo of a room and discover your own design style. Pinterest will show you pins that are similar to ones you are interested in, and pretty soon you will have a board full of ideas.

Patterned comforter with vintage nightstand

Photo from Pinterest

4. Set a budget
Once you know what sort of items you are looking for, it’s time to decide upon a budget. Many people will picture a perfect room and become overwhelmed when they begin to think of the costs associated. Good design doesn’t have to be expensive; you just have to be thrifty when you shop. Decide on a maximum amount that you’d like to spend designing your room and leave a $20 contingency budget. This will help you when you spy that perfect piece later on!

5. Pre-shop
Getting an idea of the items that you want will save you time, money and headaches when you start the actual shopping process. Start your search at stores that offer inexpensive décor solutions. Ikea, Target and Home Goods all offer budget conscious pieces that can turn your room from drab to fab. Ikea and Target also offer a shopping list function online that will make planning your trip a breeze, free you from other distractions, and get you in-and-out in a timely manner. If something catches your eye, don’t be afraid to add it to your list, the piece may look different in person, and when you’re in the store you can decide to buy it or leave it there.

6. Plan your route
Decide all of the stores you’re going to shop at and find a route that will use the least amount of gas. In bigger cities, you may have more than one Target, or Home Goods, so plan a route that lets you get to the different locations. Some stores may not carry your piece, or it may be out of stock. Planning a route that lets you hit all of these locations ensure you have time to get to another location that may have the item in stock.

iDevices showing maps

Photo from Apple

7. Get ready to shop…


PART 2 will be released next week and will cover ways to maximize your shopping experience. Stay tuned on The Campus Crop to follow along with the rest of The Design on a Dime series.