The Ultimate Freshman Guide to Dorm Decor

As you leave the confines of your parents’ house to begin your new freshman college bound life, you’ve probably got a million and one things overloading your brain. How hard are the classes going to be? Will my fake ID actually work at the local bar? Do people actually walk to the communal showers naked??? Unfortunately, many of these are questions I can’t answer and these persistent concerns will consume your thoughts until the day you arrive on campus. However, I can provide some useful tips and advice on one pertinent matter (that’s probably the most important of them all…) – dorm decor ideas.

It all starts with the bedding.

After all, your bed takes up the most space, making it the focal point of the room. This is why, when it comes to dorm decor, your bedding is key.


I would suggest going one of two ways when it comes to dorm bedding, comforters in particular. Either choose something that is relatively plain and basic and get a little crazy with your other decorations. OR, pick a bold, vibrant comforter and keep the rest of your dorm decor a little more toned down. Either option is great, you just don’t want to overload your dorm room with too much pattern and color – it’s small, remember, so having anything in excess may make it seem too crowded.



Once you’ve decided on a comforter, move on to pillows. I don’t mean the pillows you’re actually going to sleep on – for those, get something super comfy. I’m referring to the girly pillows that will turn your bed from boring twin XL dorm bed to a magically enchanting slumber oasis. Seriously, with just a couple of cute pillows, your bed is immediately upgraded.


You could even purchase a few over-sized pillows to double as chairs. Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles, textures and patterns to create a fun, playful vibe.


Throw Blankets

Some extra throw blankets are dorm decor essentials. They instantly add character to the drab room, plus when the cold winter weather comes around (if you’re unfortunate to go to school in a place where that’s the case), you’ll be thankful for the added warmth.



Consider building a headboard for some added style with a personal touch. Check out this article for an awesome list of DIY headboard ideas!

Go the functional route.

You don’t have a lot of space in a dorm room, surprise! This is why it is so important to consider functionality and practicality when purchasing furniture and other dorm decor items.


Doubling as extra seating and extra storage (not to mention, a great step stool if you need a little boost getting onto your lifted dorm bed) – an ottoman is a multipurpose master. and

Folding Chairs

Another great option to implement a little extra sitting space in your room is to stock up on some folding chairs. Bring them out when you have company, tuck them under the bed or in your closet when not in use.



If your dorm room comes with a bookcase, great, if not, consider purchasing one (if you have room of course). Not only are they great for storage, but here’s an awesome idea. Place some of your favorite heels onto the shelves to create a chic look and give those suckers a place to live…heels don’t deserve to be smushed way under your bed.

Jewelry Display

Adorable dorm decor AND practical storage for your jewelry; trendy accessory displays are a great investment. You can either find one that will hang on your wall (it’s like a piece of art in itself), or one that sits nicely on top of your desk. Either way, it’s cute and functional.



When it comes to college dorm decor, any sneaky way you can think of to add more storage space is necessary…take my word for it. Like this simple space saving organizational tip – glue magnets to the back of little jars to hang on your fridge. These can be used to hold pens and pencils or any other little items you don’t want cluttering your desk, and you can hang up important reminder notes.

Play with the lighting.

The lighting in dorm rooms sucks. Fact. However, there are a few simple ways to make the unpleasantness a little bit easier to bare.

Twinkle Lights

Twinkle lights make any dreary dorm room look better with the flick of a switch. Whether you line your bed, drape them throughout a canopy (there’s an idea!), or zigzag them in a shape on your wall; twinkle lights are seriously a must.

Flower Lights

Take the twinkle light fixtures up a notch with this simple DIY project…it will certainly make your room stand out from the rest.


The overhead lighting in your dorm room is likely to be harsh and unforgiving. So instead of allowing these neon rays to show off any perfection that may grace your body, don your room with a variety of lamps to soften the illumination.


It’s all in the details.

When it comes to dorm decor, a lot of the ways to really make your room stand out comes down to the nitty, gritty details that most wouldn’t think of.


It always amazes me how much a simple plant can completely beautify a room – and dorm rooms are no exception. Plants are often overlooked in the dorm decor process, and I don’t understand why! Go for a variety that doesn’t require a lot of care or sunlight (succulents, all day, everyday) and you’re good to go.

Mason Jars

Or any jar, mug, cup, bowl, etc. – whatever cute little holder you can find to store away all that junk that will undoubtedly pile up on your desk.



Mirrors are obviously a must in your dorm room (I mean how else are you going to know you’re ready to face your first college party?!). For a cheap option that doesn’t take up a lot of space, most college students opt for the over-the-door mirrors or ones that lay flat up against the wall. I’d say this is definitely the way to go, but consider adding some Washi tape to the sides for instant style.

See Also


Most dorm rooms come with their own (ugly AF) curtains or shades. If this is the case in your dorm room, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re room is doomed to ugliness. If you can’t replace the original ones, try layering another pair on top. You can also use curtains as a impromptu wall for the space under your bed (if it’s lofted).

Can’t forget about the walls.

No, you can’t paint the walls (at least I’ve never heard of a college allowing this), but you can do a variety of things to make those bleak walls look a little more inviting.

Washi Tape

I know I mentioned Washi tape before, but this ish is so amazing, I’ll mention it again. From jazzing up those ugly curtains (there’s an interesting idea) to framing art or creating a mural masterpiece on its own – Washi tape is a must-have. and

Removable Wallpaper

If those off-white concrete walls are really bumming you out, consider removable wallpaper. You’re going to want to run it by the RA first, sometimes this isn’t allowed, but if it is, the difference it will make is HUGE.



So you got the no-go on the temporary wallpaper and Washi tape, try the tapestry route instead. There are literally countless patterns and designs out there, the chances you choose one similar to another dorm room in your building is slim to none (unless, of course, you all purchase the ones below).



It’s college – you’re away from home, away from your friends and family, away from the world you once knew. There will be days when you will be homesick, it’s unavoidable. This is when having your favorite photos, capturing some of your most memorable moments, will become vital. Instead of keeping these pictures tucked away for safekeeping, put them on display for easy access to a much-needed smile.


Or the floor.

Cold. Hard. Dirty. Yep, college dorm room floors aren’t the most appealing places to rest your feet…but it is what it is. Instead of vowing to never go barefoot in your own dorm room, take this as an opportunity to spiff up your room even further!



With the right rug, you can not only make the room appear bigger, but really set the vibe you’re going for. Light colored rugs are good for creating the illusion of more space, but keep in mind they are also much easier to get dirty (and wine stains do NOT come out easily). I prefer rugs with intricate patterns so if they do get dirty…who would know?? Plus, they look pretty sweet.


Floor Pillows

So your rug only covers a portion of the floor and you can’t stand those remaining glistening tiles staring back at you, straight into your soul. Here’s a simple solution – get a couple of floor pillows or bean bags to toss around the floor. Bonus: more seating and great for lounging.


*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

Featured image source: www.
Ashley Rego

Ashley is the Editorial Director of SOCIETY19. She is a graduate of Marist College with a degree in Business and Marketing.

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