By Alison Milton/The AS Review

Money is tight these days, but just because your wallet is suffering doesn’t mean your room has to. Whether you hit up the sale rack or make your own decorations with recycled goods, you can turn your space from drab to fab, at least until your college education can buy you an interior decorator and anything you want from Pottery Barn.

Blank Walls
One of the downsides to living in the residence halls on campus is the bare white walls. What can you do when you are not allowed to paint your room?

Wall art is essential in living spaces because it can provide color, individuality, creativity and unique conversation starters. You can sit down with your roommates, find some crayons and channel your memories of those elementary school days of coloring outside the lines to create your own art. This not only provides art for your space but can also be bonding time with your roommates or a stress reliever during those difficult school weeks.

If you prefer to fly solo with your decorating, try pinning a tapestry on the wall. You can buy these almost anywhere, from your local farmer’s market to a department store. They provide color without the sloppy mess of paint splatters and the extra cost of brushes. Plus, you can take it with you wherever you go next.

Rachel King, AS Recycle Center educator, urges students to get creative with their wall art by using materials that they may already have in their possession. One idea King had was to make a collage using an old cardboard box as a base and sprucing it up with magazine clippings, pins, stickers, postcards and pictures.

Cheap Furniture
Often, spaces lack the room for large furniture and very often students’ bank accounts lack the funds for newer furniture pieces. Lauren Squires, coordinator of the Environmental Center, suggests getting creative with your furniture by making it yourself with recycled materials. For example, you can make a very chic end table using two-by-fours, old cabinets that you can buy at places like the RE-Store and pieces of glass.

If you lack the ability to make things yourself, check out thrift stores to find some cheap furniture. If you’re worried about sitting on a couch that isn’t new and those $50 couch covers are out of your budget range, try using a colorful sheet that matches the rest of your stuff. You can even staple the sheet into the couch so that you don’t have to keep tucking it in.

Funky Decorations
You don’t need art classes and expensive materials to be an artist. Sometimes it’s just as easy as following simple instructions. Many Web sites, like, offer directions to create masterpieces of your own by using materials such as vinyl records, old yogurt containers and recycled cups. From funky bowls to storage containers, you can create it all just by using some of your old junk.

This school year, instead of spending your savings on decorations that might go out of style tomorrow, get creative and have some fun. Maybe you’ll uncover a hidden artistic talent you never knew you had or turn your trash to treasure.

A student at an AS Environmental Center event uses recycled materials to make a picture frame. Photo by Erik Simkins.

A student at an AS Environmental Center event uses recycled materials to make a picture frame. Photo by Erik Simkins.