Moving to college is one of the most exciting times, and with a few creative dorm room ideas you can organize and decorate your new space so it feels like home away from home.
Whether you live on or off campus, most dorm rooms are drab small spaces you’ll have to share with other college students. But worry not. In this post, we’ll show you smart examples of how to deck out a dorm room or college apartment so you’ll always have a cool looking place in which to sleep, study, and hang out with friends.
From storage and organization to bedding and decor, we rounded 20 dorm room ideas to take your college pad to the next level!
Getting Dorm Ready? Check Out These Useful Tips First!
Before you start transforming your dorm room into the coolest space on campus, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Check your school’s guidelines on decorating and bringing in your own furniture. Generally, college dorm rules spell out what you are and aren’t allowed to do to decorate your room. The don’ts typically include painting walls and drilling holes in them, so if you want to hang posters and other wall art, make sure you know how todecorate your walls without nails or screws.
Take time to plan your dorm room ideas with your roommate. Get in touch with them before you arrive on campus and ask if they’re willing to go dorm shopping together for items like an area rug, matching bedding, and othercool things your dorm room needs. Also, coordinate so that you aren’t bringing doubles of household items that you’ll have to store in your room.
Invest in pieces that pull double duty so your room is personalized and organized. It’s a win-win if you can use your decor and accessories to add interest and style to your room but, at the same time, they serve a purpose such as storage or personal organization.
Unpack before you decorate. Since dorm rooms are usually small, you may find you have less space than you did at home and might need to prioritize which items you hang up or display. Set those aside and wait until you have unpacked before you start decorating.
Start With These Dorm Room Ideas When You’re Ready to Decorate!
A desk hutch is a savvy small-space furniture hack that takes advantage of vertical space above your desk. Mounted directly to the desk top, it doesn’t have to be fastened to the wall (which is typically prohibited), and can be used as both a vanity and a workstation. It can store books, supplies, and has space for a few personal items, like photos or other reminders of home.
While a bed may sound like a cozy place to hang out in, your dorm room bed will likely be pushed up against a concrete wall. Luckily, you can add style and comfort to your sleeping space with a plush headboard. Not only will it give you something soft to lean against while you read or watch TV, but it will instantly create a feeling of warmth in your new home away from home.
Multi-purpose Storage Box
With textbooks, clothes and shoes, most college students never have enough space to store their belongings. Add storage to your dorm room with a multifunctional storage box that will slide right under your bed and stow away towels, magazines, and other things you don’t want on display.
Your bed is probably the biggest piece of furniture in your room. Let it set the tone for your dorm room decor. Upgrade it with floral sheets, pillows, a blanket, and (of course) that comforter set you’ve been stalking on Pinterest all summer. If you choose plain bedding, you can always add some color with a bright throw. Keep it on your bed or over a chair. It will be decorative and keep you warm on cold winter nights.
Since dorms can get tight, you should always be mindful of every piece you bring into your space. An ottoman with a removable top pulls double duty as an extra seating option and as hidden storage space. It’s great for tucking away blankets, remotes, or books and, at the same time, can serve as an extra chair or a footrest.
If you want to deck out your tiny space with homey touches, start by covering up the grimy old floor with a colorful plush area rug. It can be layered on top of any floor covering, including the well-worn dorm carpeting, and adds a pop of color and softness underfoot. Dragging yourself from bed on those cold winter mornings just got a little easier.
For those of you who think that storage should be both functional and stylish (mostly stylish!), opt for a wicker basket to make your dorm room clutter-free and looking fabulous. Not only will a wicker basket help you stay organized throughout the year, but it will add a boho feel to the space.
Decorating your dorm room with plants is a great way to brighten up your living space. Studies have shown that indoor plants can lower your stress levels, elevate your mood, and improve your concentration and productivity — all of which is super important when you are cramming for those midterm exams.
Space Saving Hangers
We know you’d rather think about your new college wardrobe, but trust us, cascading hangers are a can’t-live-without item you need to have in your new space. They take up minimal area, adding up to more usable space to declutter your minuscule cramped closet and give it a more organized look.
If you are free-spirited and love natural fabrics and color, then a macrame could be the perfect addition for your dorm room. Dorm room walls are as bare as they come, and they’re always painted in a super dull color. Dress them up with a macrame wall hanging for a touch of boho chic. Throw in a woven basket and some plants on a shelf and you’ve just upgraded to a boho dorm room!
As strings of gold twinkle lights dance through your head, don’t forget to invest in the somewhat boring yet important everyday necessities like a tray organizer. Perfect for storing anything from keys, jewelry, and glasses, it will help keep your desk or bedside table neat and organized.
Lightweight tapestries help disguise ugly dorm walls and can instantly elevate whatever color scheme you choose. This beachy print gives this space a laidback vibe, and all it takes is a couple of thumbtacks to get the look. Remember to check with your dorm advisor about wall adhesives and fire codes first. While you may have your heart set on a gorgeous tapestry, unless it’s fire retardant, you may have to leave it home.
Fake Ivy Vines
Plants are a quick way to bring any dorm room to life — even if they’re fake! So, if you’re really looking to escape those ugly cinder block walls of your dorm, why not splash some serious foliage throughout them with the help of fake ivy vines. We love the idea of stringing several strands of artificial greens over a bed to create a leafy canopy that will bring a pop of color to any bland dorm room.
Peel-and-stick wallpaper is another dorm-friendly decorating solution and one of the hottest trends for good reason. It won’t ruin the ancient dorm walls, and it can transform any section of your study space in no time (and without a big commitment). It can be used in a variety of ways — from creating affordable large-scale prints to creating a faux headboard.
Swapping out the fluorescent dorm lighting may not be an option, but you can offset the harsh light by adding some string lights. They’re a fun and inexpensive way to make any dorm room cozy, homey and downright dreamy. They even come in color-changing options that can sync with music, which makes them a dorm room party essential.
Lean a full-length mirror against a wall or hang one on the back of your door. It’s super handy for checking your outfit before heading out, plus it helps to open up the space with a bit more light and reflection. On top of that, you can use it to hang your belts, hats or scarves on.
Talking about minimally intrusive dorm room ideas, wall decals are a hassle-free way to add some personality to your dorm room. Easy to apply and remove, they can pack a design punch on any flat surface. Best of all, you can reuse them year after year!
LED Light Strip
Strip LED lights are an eye-catching decoration that adds to the overall vibe of your room. Run a strand of incandescent LED lights around the outside edge of your headboard or around a full-length mirror for a dramatic glow effect at night. If you happen to be a gamer trying to make yourself at home in a dreary dorm room, LED strips can help you turn your college quarters into a gamer’s paradise.
Photo Gallery Wall
Having a picture collage in your college dorm is a super cute way to show off those memories from home! If you can’t install a full-blown gallery wall over your bed, opt for a photo garland instead. They are designed with small clips that hold photos in place — no hammer, nails, or frames involved!
If your student housing director is less than thrilled about you putting holes in your walls, be sure to check out dorm-friendly posters from Displate. They come with a convenient hanging system that uses magnets. Not only does this make it easier to hang your art, but it also leaves the walls absolutely intact. Scroll below for more inspo!
Best Dorm Room Poster Ideas
Looking for dorm room poster inspiration?
When we recall dorms from our college days, we think of the same generic posters on every single wall, whether it was images from Pulp Fiction or Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. So, instead of leaving you to desperately sift through the internet for something original, here are some neat alternatives to those played-out paper prints you’re likely to see everywhere else.
Poster Inspiration to Study Smart
Poster Inspiration to Party Hard
Poster Inspiration to Celebrate Your Academic Major