Saying goodbye to my son outside his dorm went pretty well. The 50-minute drive to the airport was quiet. I kept all my emotions in check until we boarded the 2.5 hour United flight home. By the time I clicked my seatbelt I was sobbing. My husband asked a flight attendant for a stack of cocktail napkins. The woman seated next to me kept her eyes on the friendly skies. I released almost two decades of emotions during takeoff. And, then? Ten minutes into watching Season 1, Episode 1 of Queer Eye I was giggling over Nebraska. And, had a list of budget-friendly ideas for a college bedroom decor makeover.
It was the needed distraction to counter my mile-high meltdown.
Okay, it’s not like I had not prepped a bit for this bedroom update. I might have measured a few walls and obsessed over paint colors prior to my son’s freshman welcome week.
Apparently, my (our) son had his own distractions as we went almost a full week without a phone call. (He is the baby so we learned to keep our distance in those first few days).
The Transition to College Bedroom Decor
When I decided to update my youngest son’s bedroom to a college bedroom decor I ended up changing the decor in my other college-age son’s bedroom. Or, as I refer to my boys, “my lefty and my righty.”
To manage simultaneous college bedroom makeovers I followed the same budget-friendly ideas for both bedrooms.
Their bedrooms are sandwiched between this Jack and Jack bathroom. We remodeled this bathroom when my older son (lefty) left for college. Because they share the bathroom I wanted their rooms to each have their own vibe but feel connected (like brothers).
Budget-Friendly Ideas for College Bedroom Decor
1. Less is more
Before my son left for college, I purchased a few storage tubs to store most of his lacrosse and tennis trophies. It was time. I removed everything from his walls and closet. I wanted a clean slate to transition to a college bedroom vibe.
2. Paint the Walls
The last thing my son told me the week of college dropoff, “Mom, don’t paint my room.” Well, painting his room with a bold paint color was the 2nd thing I did after I packed up his textbooks, his empty English spiral notebooks and his bouncy ball collection from middle school.
I chose a navy paint color (Hale Navy). My plan was to paint one wall as a feature wall above his bed because I was a wee bit worried about his room being too dark with a navy paint color. However, everything I read about how dark paint colors are counter-intuitive in small rooms, was true. As soon as I finished the first wall I painted the remaining three walls.
I loved the richer paint color so much I repainted my lefty’s room. Revere Pewter is a great neutral, but that was the problem. It didn’t bring any personality to the two rooms.
Hale Navy brought it!
I debated between Benjamin Moore Graphite and Kendall Charcoal but decided on Chelsea Gray! It provided a much-needed warmth to this north-facing room and enough contrast that makes the accessories and furniture pop.
Chelsea Gray made the room look more like a college bedroom with opinions and knowledge and multi-syllable sentences it lacked during the Revere Pewter days.
3. Introduce framed prints.
It was time to remove the high school tennis posters and banners from state playoffs and tournaments.
Sidenote: Did you know the option on Target’s website to “notify me when back in stock,” really works. When I went online to order these prints they were sold out across the country. I had always ignored the “notify me” signup because I assumed they were never restocked.
Guess what? Within 24 hours I had an email notification they were in stock and ready to ship.
4. Add Lighting
Both of my boys’ had the overhead ceiling fan/light combo. They may be functional when you are searching for a clean t-shirt buried under a week’s worth of dirty laundry, but the ceiling light was not the vibe I wanted for his college college-age bedroom.
I bought two of these lamps at Target. These lamps were less than $15/each and the lampshade was included.
5. Canvas Prints for Large Walls
Framed prints add up quickly and both bedrooms had valuable wall space to fill. I found this longhorn print at Homegoods. Target has a larger version.
The funny thing is my daughter and I both thought this was a buffalo. And, we bought it because when he was younger he was obsessed with a herd of buffalo raised on private land near our home.
It turns out it is a longhorn. Erich has no memories attached to this guy except his cute little face.
And, his mom and sister thought this guy was a buffalo.
For the space above his bed, I added a horizontal canvas I found online. It fills the space and gives a shout out to his Colorado roots!
I thought I would be overwhelmed by updating two bedrooms, but because I added the exact same ideas it was fairly simple. And, because I had two bedrooms to update I kept my budget in check. The reality is the boys will spend less time at home than in their dorms and/or apartments. But, I am thrilled I created a space that they can enjoy the holidays, catch up on sleep and have a space to call their own no matter where their paths shall lead.