Style & Shopping

Here’s Your Guide to Getting a Coastal Grandma Dorm Room for $175

published Aug 17, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
collage with photo of diane keaton in something's gotta give at the beach holding onto her hat, faux coral in the upper left, shell velvet throw pillow in the lower right. Background is sand textured. Sticker reads "Aesthetic on a Budget" Theme is Coastal Grandma
Credit: Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection, Hobby Lobby, HypeIndaHouse

Whether you’re moving away from a coastal town and want your dorm to have the comforts of home, or your school is located in a beach town and you want to embrace those laid-back vibes, the coastal grandma look is the perfect breezy aesthetic for your new space. In fact, wherever you are — be it a Big 10 university in a landlocked state, a local college in the South, or somewhere in between — the coastal grandma aesthetic will make your home feel effortlessly cool and cozy.

The coastal grandma aesthetic blends clean lines, white and blue hues, and elevated beachy accents to create an upscale summer look that lasts all year long (think: shell decorations, ocean wave-inspired patterns, and simple gold accessories). If Nancy Meyers were to design a dorm room, this is what it would look like.

To help you achieve this look, I scoured the internet to find the best products under $40 each for you to choose from — or you could buy them all to make you feel like you are on the beach and living your best life with your effortlessly cool, Diane Keaton-esque Nana, all for under $175. 

1 / 8
was $39.99

The key to creating a theme for your bedroom starts with the correct bedding, because the bed is the focal point of the room and often the first thing you see when you walk in the door. This cotton flannel bedding set’s white and blue floral pattern will establish the tone for your room’s color scheme while making you feel like you’re in a chic summer house on the beach.

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Mirrors are important for college dorms because they upgrade the style of a room and can make your space seem larger. And of course they also serve functional purposes, like allowing you to do your makeup and check your outfit before you leave for class (not to mention snap a mirror selfie before going out with friends). This specific mirror is a great choice because it has that trendy, unique shape seen all over social media, while the beachy wave design enhances the room’s overall coastal vibe.

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Bungalow Blonde

Another multifunctional option, this jewelry dish is a dainty, beachy decoration that also serves as storage for your jewelry or other little trinkets. Space is limited in a college dorm, so decor that can also hold items is a smart use of what you’ve got.

4 / 8
was $29.99

The pink shell design of this vase screams “beach!” Brighten your space (and your life!) by buying yourself fresh flowers to go into this vase — bonus points if you get white and light blue hydrangeas for maximum coastal grandma vibes. If buying fresh flowers (and keeping them alive) seems daunting or unrealistic, you can always opt for faux flowers.

5 / 8
was $49.99

Looking for a way to elevate your dorm dresser without taking up too much space? This white tray will pull together all of your decorations and knickknacks to create a clean and simple vignette. While a small detail, the gold handles on this tray will boost the overall look of your bedroom.

6 / 8
was $36.30

You may think you need a lot of throw pillows to embrace the grandma aspect of this aesthetic. But let’s be real: Tons of extra pillows will end up taking up too much space in your tiny dorm room. Instead, lean into the simple and clean side of this aesthetic. One statement pillow is really all you need — as long as you choose the right one. This white shell pillow is a solid option; it’s small, but it brings major coastal elegance to your bed, aka the centerpiece of your room. If you want to add a pop of color, it also comes in shades of blue, pink, purple, and red.

7 / 8
was $21.00

With its white background, pop of green, and various shades of blue, this oyster painting embodies the coastal grandma aesthetic to a T. While it may give off "dining seaside with a wealthy relative" vibes, at just over $15, this piece fits into a college student’s budget perfectly.

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Hobby Lobby

This white faux coral decoration is a conversation-starting addition to your dresser or bedside table, tying yet another element of the ocean into your space. It looks super realistic (like you might have picked it up from a casual scuba diving trip!), but for a fraction of the price it’d take to get scuba certified, buy all the gear, and charter a boat. The neutral, off-white coloring will seamlessly match the rest of your room decor — whatever color scheme you end up choosing.

Haley Karinja

Business Digital Technology and Emerging Media & Marketing

Haley Karinja is an undergraduate student at Fordham University. Haley is pursuing a degree in Digital Technology and Emerging Media & Marketing. Haley is working toward a career in digital marketing and has had many internships in social media marketing in sports, entertainment, retail, and more. Haley is also a freelance content creator and specializes in short-form video content. Outside of school and her career pursuits, Haley enjoys fitness and is currently a University Ambassador at Soulcycle. Haley also loves photography, exploring NYC with friends, and going back to her hometown on the Jersey shore for a beach day.

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SchoolFordham University, Lincoln Center '25
MajorBusiness Digital Technology and Emerging Media & Marketing
FavesExploring NYC, coffee, beach days, fitness, photography
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