Bargain hunting done right: Decorate your dorm room with inexpensive furnishings

By Candace Hall
Times-News correspondent

Anyone who has been shopping for furniture and/or home décor knows what a hassle it can be, especially when it is college-related.

Dorm or apartment furnishings add an extra level of pain to the excruciating prices of college tuition. The costs also mean that design often has to be sacrificed for practicality.

Thankfully, there are still ways to find trendy and unique furnishings at low prices (yes, you may breathe a sigh of relief).

Above is a homemade pallet table and lawn chairs. Sarah Miller was able to get the pallets and lawn chairs for free. The extra wood and wheels for the table cost about $10, while spray paint for the chairs was about $5. / Photo by Sarah Miller

Sarah Miller, a 22-year-old college graduate, children’s pastor for Trinity Worship Center, artist, photographer and bargain shopper extraordinaire has, with time, gained the uncanny knack for finding amazing items at great prices. Her first suggestion for struggling shoppers is to look in the right places for bargain items.

“My favorite places to shop locally are the Hospice Flea Market in Haw River and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Burlington,” she said.

Because many Burlington thrift stores support local organizations, when you shop for bargain items you are also helping the community. But it is important to remember that many thrift stores update their stock often, so “the trick is to go regularly,” Miller added.

If you can’t find what you need locally, Miller recommended “splurging” for items at IKEA in Charlotte, which caters to the college lifestyle at reasonable prices.

Miller also said it is important to “not to get frustrated looking for the perfect item.”

“Often finding the perfect item takes a time, patience and lots of creativity,” she said. “Many people have ideas for a design and try to find materials to fit their idea, but I’m the opposite. I am inspired by the materials themselves and work a design around what I find.”

Miller also suggested that bargain shoppers have a general idea of what they need for a room before they begin hunting.

“Usually when I go to a thrift store, I have a room I want to furnish, but not an idea of specific furniture,” she explained. “However, when you go to a retail store like IKEA, it is important to have a list so that you don’t overspend.”

Finally, if low prices are not enough when cutting the costs of college, Miller also offered tips on finding free items.

“The best places to go are colleges like Elon University right when school gets out,” Miller advised.

A lot of college students throw away things they don’t want or need anymore. The objects you could find might surprise you, “as long as you are not afraid of dumpster diving,” she said.

Candace Hall is finishing her associate’s degree at Alamance Community College and is a Teens & Twenties writer.



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