They master interior design. College girls are giving their monotonous dorms high-rise revamps — on impossibly tight budgets.
Fashionable freshmen are heading back to school in style, making their grand entrances on campus by transforming the cinderblock walls and wooden furniture of their college dorms into after masterpieces. And most of them spend less than $300 to get the job done.
The dorm room revamp trend is booming on social media with newsworthy “before and after” clips being shared on TikTok. The #DormTransformation hashtag has amassed over 57.3 million views.
Here’s a look at how the class of 2026 glams it on a budget.
School is for jewelry
To help little sister Athena get a fresh start as a freshman, 29-year-old nurse Alethea Johnson offered to set up her dorm at Morgan State University in Maryland.
Armed with a budget of $300, the New York creative transformed the 18-year-old’s stunning digs into dazzling quarters fit for a queen.
“I wanted to redesign the piece to match his style,” Johnson, of the Bronx, told The Post.
The big sister was inspired by professional photos that sequin-clad Athena had taken of herself for her birthday in January. She hung three of the pictures — in dazzling frames made of $1 foam board from Dollar Tree and $10 gemstone from Amazon — above the raised bed. Individual spotlights above each of the three images ensure they really shine.
“I wanted the colors in the piece to complement the sequins my sister wore in the photos,” Althea said.
She enhanced the once damp space even further with printed wallpaper, plush pillows and a stylish throw. The entire look took Alethea four days to conceptualize and only two hours to install.
The visuals for the jaw-dropping revamp, set to pop singer Fergie’s “Glamorous,” racked up 11.4 million views. And the popularity of Althea’s job prompted her to quit her nursing job last month to pursue interior design full-time.
“Interior design is something I’ve always loved doing,” she said.
Barbies girls in a Barbie world
When pink-obsessed Olivia Pistone and her roommate Madeline Haver sought to spruce up their Louisiana State University living quarters with pink furniture and gold accents, professional decorators offered them more than $6,000. So the best friends, both freshmen, decided to take matters into their own hands and turn their beige-colored bedrooms into a vibrant dollhouse.
“I saw girls from [the University of Mississippi] recreate their dorms so beautifully, and I was like, ‘I really want this, and I think I can do this on a budget,’” Pistone, an 18-year-old law student from Houston, Texas, says The post office.
She and Haver, also 18 and from Texas, shared mutual childhood friends and decided to move in together after learning they would be attending the same college this fall. The girls spent five months hunting for bargains on Amazon, Overstock, Hobby Lobby and elsewhere for decorating. They each ended up spending just over $1,000 to realize their vision, purchasing items such as a huge pink and white rug ($50 at Overstock.com), chic acrylic chairs ($110 each at Essentials with Eden) and a sleek white dresser ($300). from IKEA). The video of their dorm renovation has garnered 2.8 million views online.
“If we had to give our dorm a name, it would probably be ‘Barbie goes to college,’ because pink is both our favorite color,” Pistone said with a chuckle. “I like pretty things and I want my space away from home to feel good.”
Sydney Hargrove was uninspired by the dreary ambience of her unique, dimly lit dormitory at Hunter College on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. So the sophomore spent a few hundred dollars on wall art, funky neon lights, and a large grass-like rug to create the bedroom of her wildest dreams.
“Before we redesigned it, the dorm was pretty bland and it didn’t have a lot of character,” said 18-year-old Hargrove. “It was cold, not a bright, creative space.”
The Long Island journalism student and her parents spent six hours installing her vision, which included items such as black and white polka dot wallpaper ($25 at Amazon), an artistic light string ($50 at Amazon ), hanging lights ($25 at Big Lots), and a collection of colorful butterfly and rainbow neon signs ($25 each at Target).
She shared visuals of her dorm room makeover to an audience of 2.3 million awed TikTok watchers. However, some online enemies have spawned with shadow.
“A lot of people were like, ‘This is so stupid, you’ll only be here for 9 months,'” Hargrove said. “But, I’m spending a lot of time in my dorm and taking online classes because of COVID, so I want this space to be as comfortable as possible.”
High and intimate
At the University of Mississippi, aka Ole Miss, dorm renovations have been a tradition for years, and freshmen Ansley Spinks and Taylor Robinson were eager to get involved. The two 18-year-olds brightened up their living space with lavender mood lighting, luxury furniture and lounge-style decor.
“Everyone who comes in says ‘Oh my God, that’s so cool’ and everyone wants to lay down on our big fluffy rug,” Spinks, of Marietta, Georgia, said of their white Moroccan style and gray at $150. Wayfair rugs.
They each spent about $1,000 on bedroom fixtures such as a beloved sunset lamp (about $20 from Amazon), a $300 futon from Amazon, matching purple neon signs from their respective names ($130 from Etsy) and plush headboards that come with electrical outlets ($100 each at Walmart).
“We wanted our dorm room to feel like home,” said Spinks, who hopes to become an actor. Her dorm reveal reached 3.8 million views on TikTok. And Robinson, who is interested in a career in anesthesiology, agreed.
“I saw my friends’ dorms and if I lived there I would be so miserable,” said Robinson, of Denton, Texas. “It feels like home and we love it.”
New York Post