By: Mary Rink

Whether you’re ready to push your kids out of the nest or dreading that day with a lump in your throat, decorating a dorm room is surely on your to-do list if your kids are headed to college.

My goal was to do it for less than $100. Therefore, I went directly to The Friends of the Inn Thrift Store in McKinney, otherwise known as “the purple building.” There you’ll find new and gently used furniture, artwork, accessories, kitchen wares, rugs, books, DVDs, small appliances and more. So, pile your college student into the car and head there.

Dorm Decor Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • Most dorms come furnished with a bed, dresser and desk unit.
  • Remember that function is important when you’re adding items to a small, shared space.
  • Focus on dressing up the room to reflect your individuality.

The Friends of the Inn Thrift Store and the Thrift Store 2 (clothing and accessories) are owned and operated by Collin County’s largest residential homeless program, The Samaritan Inn. The thrift stores receive hundreds of donations each week and are staffed primarily by busy volunteers.

So, I vowed to stay out of everyone’s way while I selected items for the ultimate dorm room. Of course, I did happen upon a great find for myself – a wonderful marble powder room set priced incredibly low.

Focus; back to the dorm room! I started by finding studying essentials: a lamp for $6 and a must-have $5 coffee pot. Next, I found a pair of speakers priced at $5, a set of tumblers for $4, a small occasional table for $3 and a pair of chairs for $20. I then added additional storage space: a $15 bookcase and a $20 dresser. I finished my dorm room at well under $100 with an awesome retro poster to brighten the room and make a statement for $2.

Dorm Decorating Hint:

  • Bookshelves double as kitchen cabinets and storage for toiletries, so find cool boxes and baskets to reflect your style and, more importantly, hide your incidentals.

I couldn’t stop myself, so I decorated a second dorm room with a shared gathering area.

This time I fell in love with a vignette that could double as an area to study or relax. It was anchored by a colorful $20 rug. A gorgeous red leather cube ottoman was a steal at $15, and a pair of brilliant red picture frames was $6. The stacking red wicker tables for $6 would surely be functional and space-saving. A lamp with a red shade fit the decor perfectly. Again, I added a $10 versatile bookshelf, but this time I topped it off with a small, green $3 plant and was still well under my $100 budget!

Lynne Sipiora, Executive Director of the Inn, said shopping at Friends of the Inn Thrift Store benefits the community.

“Recycling is good," Sipiora says, "because it keeps our landfills from becoming overcrowded, it offers consumers an opportunity to save significant money, and all of the profits from our stores enable us to provide services for people experiencing homelessness – win, win, win!”

Heading to college is both exciting and anxiety-inducing for parents and students. Choosing inspiring, funky or familiar items to personalize a generic dorm room is a fun way for students and parents to work together, hopefully easing the transition from life under one roof to a new reality.


About the author: Mary Rink is the owner of an interior redesign and home staging business in McKinney.