Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Personalize your college dorm room to fit your unique, individual style. For inspiration, I've created a list of my favorite easy, affordable and practical dorm decoration ideas that will bring your space to life. You'll also find some "must haves" for successful and comfortable college dorm living. From wall decor to college necessities like bed duvets, these decor suggestions will add personality to and transform your room into a cute and comfortable home.
As always, summer has seemingly just begun, and already it’s time to talk “back-to-school” (most stores are already filled with school supplies. Don't even think of shopping for summer clothes now - it's all about Fall! Sigh).
If you’re asking "where does one begin to give a small boring space big personality?", you're in the right place. You’ve probably got a long , and possibly stress-inducing “to do” list. To ease any pressure you may be feeling, I'm sharing some simple, on-trend (and affordable!) dorm room decorating ideas.
Dorm Room Accessories:
Wall Decor Ideas - Art Prints, Decals and Flags
An art print (or 2 or 3) is an easy and very budget-friendly accessory that will add color and interest to a dorm room wall. Opt for illustrations and designs that fit your interests and personality. Choose from sports-related artwork (Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Lambeau Field, Miller Park, Progressive Field, Soldier Field, Augusta and more), inspiring quotes and symbols, beach scenes, city skylines (Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, Atlanta, San Francisco), abstract art and more.
Click the link below to see all available wall art print options, and sizes.
Pop them into inexpensive frames and use Command Strips or hooks to hang them.
Pro tip: Display an odd number of art prints in a row. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, 3 or 5 pieces will appear more balanced than 2 or 4. It's true!
(Above are only a few of the patterns available in wall decals.
Click the link below to see more design options.)
If you're looking for a creative semi-DIY dorm room decor idea: wall decals. I've designed a variety of options, from abstract colors and shapes to hearts, dog illustrations, flowers as well as Christmas and Hanukkah designs. They can be placed on a wall or door in an unlimited variety of designs - your imagination dictates how your wall will look.
(Note: You'll want to apply these decals to smooth walls that have been primed and painted. They won't adhere to cinder-block walls.)
Wall decals are one of the easiest DIY wall art ideas - get creative! Your walls will appear to be hand-painted!
Easy decor idea: FLAGS. These come in 2 sizes, 12" x 18" and 27" x 40" - perfect to cover a larger space, or to hang from a door or window. Design options included inspiring messages and quotes, peace signs, welcome messages and more. These are durable and washable, and can hang on doors, walls, in windows, and of course outside too.
Bedding and Blankets
A new duvet cover will almost immediately update any bedroom's look, any time of the year. A new school year is the perfect time to update bed linens. Personally, I've always found the choices for bedding in department or big box stores, well, "limited" - so I am excited that I now design my own duvet covers. Seriously, this is a childhood dream-come-true. Choose from colorful florals, plaids, abstracts, boho chic or geometrics. There's a pattern option for nearly every taste. Check them out here
Don't forget bed pillows. Even if the dorm or apartment supplies these, eww. Bring your own.
And double-check with your dorm for exact bed sizes before purchasing!
An extra blanket will go to very good use, even if school is in a warmer climate. These are offered in both Fleece and Sherpa, and are available in 3 sizes. Check blanket options out here.
A patterned shower curtain (for those lucky students who will have their own bathrooms) will create a bathroom with style and personality. Add solid-colored towels to complete the look.
Don't forget a matching or complementary bath mat.
• Shower Shoes/Flip Flops
• First aid kit containing the basics: pain relievers, bandages, allergy medications if needed, antibacterial ointment, throat lozenges, etc...
• A waterproof carry-all for shower items like shampoo, soap, etc...
Area rugs and floor mats are the perfect way to literally add warmth and personality to cold dormitory floors. Be sure to use a non-slip mat underneath (the ones available in my shop come with a non-slip mat included with rug purchase).
If dorm/apartment rules allow it, a cheery "welcome" mat at the front door is a creative touch that will add a pop of color and style to the dorm hallways.
Or do you say "cushions"? Either way, a grouping of pillows in fun designs, along with a few in solid colors, provides interest and added comfort. Toss a few on a cozy chair, and more on the bed. Easy to change with the seasons, too (hello, mid-semester care package!!). Available in several sizes and many designs - click to see them here.
Dorm Room Door Hangers - Signs & Flags
Make your first impression count! Hang a fun art flag on your door. Choose one with an inspiring message (Peace, HOPE, All All Welcome Here), or choose a more decorative option. Choose from Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah designs when the holidays roll around.
Another idea: hang a dry-erase board or a chalkboard on the dorm room door. Or hang a sweet and friendly "welcome" sign. The signs shown here are made of light-weight PVC. They are water-resistant, and come with a cord, ready-to-hang.
Don't forget those Command Strips and/or hooks!
More Decor Tips and Design Tricks
Because most college dorm rooms are, ahem, short on space (in other words, TINY), just these few accessories can make a big impact. To make a room shine while reflecting your personality, try a few of these design tricks:
More Mixing Than Matching - incorporate a variety of patterns and solid-colors.
Choose a colorful-patterned duvet and balance the look with solid sheets and pillow cases.
The shower curtain can be the star of the show in the bathroom. Select solid-colored bath towels that compliment the design of the shower curtain.
Choose 2 or 3 art prints that work together. Frame each with the same style of frame to create a cohesive look. If you're a sports fan, opt for baseball, football, basketball or golf themes. Choose from prints of Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Lambeau Field, Miller Park, Augusta National, and more. City skylines and Inspirational quotes and symbols also make wonderful wall decor (think Peace Signs, messages of HOPE and inclusion).
Shhh... this one is just between us: Fake plants. I'm not talking about granny's silk flowers now. I'm talking faux-succulents. They LOOK real. And they do not die. AND, they come in small, attractive pots - cluster 3 small ones on a shelf to add some (fake) nature to your environment.
Adding any or all of these decor ideas will take a blah, boring box of a room from an ordinary space to a warm home for your college living space. (For parents, here's another tip: Think about picking up a few extra items to send as mid-term care packages.)
More Must-Haves for College Life
By no means is this a complete list of college necessities - instead these are items that might slip your mind when packing:
• Cleaning Supplies. OK, true confession: I do not recall cleaning my dorm room. Ever. But, I'm sure I should have.
• Laundry Basket/Bag/Hamper
• Ear Plugs or noise-canceling headphones
• Masks and/or neck gaiters (just in case!)
• Extra clothes hangers
• Desk lamp and bedside-table lamp
• Power Strip (or 2)
• Shoe and boot rack
• Fire extinguisher
• Mace or pepper spray (not so much fun, but...)
• String lights!
• Flameless candles
I hope this has been informative and inspiring! I wish everyone a smooth transition from summer to back-to-school. It's going to be a terrific year, and I'd love to hear (and see!) how your dorm rooms look. Share before and after photos on social media and tag me! And speaking of social media, be sure to follow me so you'll be among the first to know when new products and designs become available.