I remember the first day I moved into my University flat. I had never lived away from home before and the prospect of being 4 hours away from everything I had ever known was terrifying!
Opening the door to what would be my home for the next year, I was hit with an atmosphere that screamed nothing of a home and comfort. The walls were an off-yellow – characterised by the old stains of the last tenant, while thick, murky green curtains drained out the tiny pocket of light.
However, there are plenty of ways to make this space your own. It is your perfect chance and, maybe for some of you, the first freedom you will have to make your room all about you. It will also give a great first impression of you to your new flatmates and communicate parts of your personality before you’ve even introduced yourself.
Here are 10 of my favourite décor ideas to get you started:
1. Change up the lighting with Fairy/Twinkle lights
In my experience, most dorm rooms come equipped with a single, fluorescent light which is so bright that it feels more like a school or prison than a home. Try lining your dorm with fairy lights – these can be placed anywhere: around your desk, over your headboard (if you have one), lining your shelves etc. You could also use them as a photo line: just clip on any pictures you have and let the lights illuminate them for you.
I always found that using these as my primary source of light was a brilliant way of creating a dimmer and more relaxing atmosphere. It’s also great if you have the plug socket next to your bed, so you can switch them off at night without having to walk to the other end of your dorm to switch the main light off!
2. Add some colour by fitting in some removable wallpaper
This can be used to personalise different spots of your room. Perhaps an interesting base for posters and pictures around your bed space, or use different styles of wallpaper in between shelves (if your room comes with them) to give each shelf its own theme and character.
You can find hundreds of styles available on online stores such as Amazon and Etsy. Or, if you’re feeling creative, buy some plain removable wallpaper for you to decorate yourself.
3. Invest in a few houseplants
Add some nature to your windowsill or around your study space. There are multiple houseplants that are so easy to keep – try Aloe Vera, or for a little more colour, Azalea. It’s also a perfect opportunity to invest in some quirky plant pots for more colour and decoration. Many universities hold houseplant sales at the start of the academic year so keep your eyes peeled!
Not only do houseplants add a little more character and homeliness to your space, but they also come with a list of health benefits. They are scientifically proven to increase concentration levels, create cleaner air and atmosphere, and according to the Bayer Advanced Studies at the Agricultural University of Norway, they help decrease the incidence of dry skin, colds, and even the flu… exactly what you need for avoiding that dreaded Fresher’s Flu!
4. Spice up your shelves and pictures with Washi tape
This is a student classic! With countless designs available on the likes of Amazon and Etsy, this is the perfect way to characterise your room. Line the dull, wooden edges of your drawers, shelves and desk with it. If your work desk is anything like mine was, the wood used wasn’t glazed or even filed down well – using the tape would therefore be a brilliant hack to save yourself from any rough scratches or splinters.
You could also use Washi tape to create quirky frames for any pictures or posters you may have. See what this student did…
5. Get creative with old and unused glass jars
Once you’re finished using a jar, you could do your part in helping the environment while also jazzing up your dorm space by creating personalised storage pots. There are multiple ways you could decorate your jars, from wrapping them in Washi tape to spray painting them. Why not get even more creative and paint them yourself?
These jars will be useful for just about anything: pen pots, candle jars, storing bits and bobs, even holding your new houseplants!
6. Add a rug for a pop of colour
I remember the floor in my dorm room being a solid, dirtish green – hardly welcoming at all! Merely throwing in a fluffy rug is such an effective way to transform your room and yet it barely requires you to lift a finger. It also brings a far more homely and comfortable texture to the often rock hard surface.
Try BMstores and Amazon for a range of stylish and decently priced rugs. The hardest part is deciding on one!
7. Create a wall collage
Moving away from friends and family can certainly feel a little alienating at first – so bring them with you in photographs! Plaster your wall/noticeboard with memories and places that curve a smile on your face, plus it adds colour and personality to your once dreary space. Finish off by decorating each picture with some washi tape; an inexpensive funky frame!
Looking for some collage inspiration? This user has some brilliant ideas to get you started!
8. Place a DIY headboard above your bed
It’s far easier than it looks! Grab some carboard and decorate it with some characteristic fabric (find some in art/DIY stores). Then merely stick it above your bed against the wall using removable adhesive dots. Suddenly your room will be screaming personality and quirkiness, plus you’ll be become the new go-to person for anything decor!
9. Make your dorm room door an introduction to you
Before people see the creativity that’s gone into your room, they’ll see your front door – and a lot can be said about the inhabitant by that first impression. Make your door reflect your awesome personality (and dorm room)! Stick all things you on there – quotes, photograph, hand-made designs etc. Maybe even get seasonal with the likes of Halloween, Christmas and Valentines decor when such occassions are creeping up.
Before you’ve even opened your door to new flatmates – they’ll be eager to get to know you!
10. Spice up your noticeboard with patterned fabric
Dorm rooms are dreary and plain – that’s no hidden fact. While you can’t exactly paint the walls to liven it up, you can pop fabric over the noticeboard so that, at least, isn’t dulling you with its characterless off brown colour. Scour through your local DIY store for some quirky designs and then stick/pin it over your board (make sure the fabric is ironed before you attach it).
If for some reason your room doesn’t come equipped with a board, this user provides an excellent and simple tutorial on how to make your own.