20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips


A dorm is a blank sheet of paper–okay, maybe it’s a wrinkled and slightly torn sheet of paper. But, it is still yours for the duration of the year and it is up to you for how you’d like to design it. We both know some of these dorms are a little old (shout out to Sally Hall), so we need to do everything we can to cover that up. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Color theme

The best place to start is by picking a theme and sticking to that. Pick a maximum of three colors; anymore than three and it might look like a unicorn slept in your bed. It can even help you pick a color scheme.  Some examples could be the beach, nature, rustic farmhouse, maybe bohemian. If you do pick a bohemian theme, this is the only exception to the rule of three colors, trust me.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

2. Command hooks

Rule number one–when living in a dorm–no holes in the wall, meaning no nails. The best way to get around this is by using command hooks. If we’re going to cover up those walls, we’re going to need a lot of these. I recommend getting a pack in a few different sizes, you will likely end up needing them all, eventually.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

3. Lights

I am a sucker for lights because they add a whimsical effect to your room; plus, they go with any theme. If you don’t like them them, then feel free to skip this tip. For all of my light lovers, listen up. My tip would be to try to get the lights with white wire, so they don’t stand out against the walls. Even those icicle lights that you thought only belonged on the outside of houses at Christmas time, those are up for grabs too. I have some hanging above my bed right now and, let me tell you, they’re better than normal string lights.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

4. Wax burners

Rule number two for dorms, no candles. However, wax burners use lightbulbs and pose the same function. Plus, they offer such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and patterns; there’s even a burner shaped like an elephant. If you are not a fan of these, there are also other ways of getting around this rule such as plug in air fresheners, Febreze sprays, and diffusers for aromatherapy.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

5. Extension cords

Despite the fact that there are at least two people to a room, there are never enough electrical outlets. They’re not in the most convenient places, either. You will definitely need at least one extension cord, around 5-6 inches long, just to be safe.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

6. Rugs

Rugs have a way of making a room feel cozy and inviting. It is the perfect way to make your dorm feel more like a home. Also, it isn’t enough to just cover the walls; cover the floor too and make it your own. Who doesn’t love the feeling of a rug under their feet when they first get out of bed?

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

7. Pillows

You can never have enough pillows. They are the best way to display your theme and add some extra decorations to your room. Plus, extra pillows mean extra comfort.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

8. Family photos

As much as you try to deny it, we both know you cried the moment your parents had to leave on move-in day. Keeping their pictures will make you feel less homesick and add a personal element to your space. There are endless way to use photography in your decor. Some ideas include picture frames, collages, or even yarn and clothes pins.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

9. Wall sheets or paintings

Paintings are perfect for a simple, modern theme. However, they can be slightly overpriced, which makes wall sheets a perfect alternative. If you are unfamiliar with these, they can be found in many different patterns or even with various pictures. They are perfect for covering large areas of the wall, creating a more casual and comforting vibe in your room.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

10. 3-tier rolling cart

Extra storage is a must in such a small space. These carts are perfect for storing your groceries, a small coffee station, books and papers, or bathroom necessities. The best part is that it is still decorative while being functional.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

11. Wall calendar

Since we’re college students, organization and planning is the key to keeping up with every part of our daily lives. Who said calendars couldn’t be a decoration? Plus, they come in so many styles to suit your individual needs.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

12. Screwdriver

You will need this at some point. Each year, I have brought one for my room, and I have needed it at least once, despite believing I wouldn’t.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

13. Sales! Sales! Sales!

Decorating an entire room can be costly, between the bedding, bathroom essentials, and extra decor. Use the summer before move-in to look for sales instead of buying everything at once. If you see bath towels on sale–buy them. Buy a piece or two every week or so, It won’t be as expensive, since you have broken up your spending over a period of time.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

14. Plastic storage bins

In order to optimize efficiency when moving in and out of dorms, invest in plastic storage bins. This is cheaper than buying U-Haul boxes every time you move.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

15. Seasonal decor

I know I am getting a little ahead of myself here, but the start of school means that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are just around the corner. Personally, I have found it comforting to decorate at these times to feel less homesick. At Halloween, I recommend putting out some pumpkins, hanging signs, and maybe buying some fall scents. At Christmas, I put up a 3-ft Christmas tree and decorate it in garnet and gold. Touches like these make it feel more inviting.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

16. Mattress cover and mattress pad

No one will notice this in your decor, but you will definitely feel it. Without a mattress pad, it can feel like you’re sleeping on the floor; the beds are stiff and not very giving.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

17. Ottoman

For all my fellow students who are 5’5″ and below, this is a cute accessory that serve a few purposes. First, it helps getting into those tall beds. Second, it is way cuter than having to use a step-stool or breaking a sweat jumping into bed every night. Lastly, most ottomans actually serve as storage too.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

18. Reading pillow

As soon as you walk into target, they are the first thing you see in the college section. They are not just a college cliché, they are actually more supportive than using a normal pillow. Besides, what’s one more pillow? Another perk: this one is for studying.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

19. Hanging storage

Hanging shelves and shoe organizers keep your closet looking decluttered and can be used in multiple ways.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

20. DIY decorations

DIY decor can be a little time consuming, but not only is it cheaper than store bought items, they can be designed in whatever way you like to match your themes.

20 Dorm Room Decorating Tips

This is going to be your home away from home for a few years, make it worth coming home to. And, if you live in Sally, well then, good luck, Charlie.

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