4 Great Ideas to Decorate Your College Dorm Room

Mar 18, 2021

What are some ways you can decorate a dorm room to make it your own? It’s an important question, one that I learned very early on in my freshman year of college. I can still remember how exciting it all was; the beginning of freshman year, moving into the dorms. Dorm life was one of the things my friends and I were most excited about when we started school. And why wouldn’t we be? A dorm room is most people’s first place that truly belongs to them. You couldn’t ask for a better metaphor for independence! But then you get to your dorm and the bubble bursts just a little bit…

You realize that this place isn’t exactly yours… you are renting it. That dorm room must be as generic as possible so that any student can live there. I get that. But that’s also when I realized that’s the beauty of it being so generic… you can do anything with that space. No, seriously, ANYTHING. Sure you can’t make big sweeping changes to it. But if you make enough tiny ones… well let me show you what I mean.

A Splash of Color

One of the first things you’ll probably notice with your dorm room is that it’s a little… bleh. Not bad! But probably nothing truly special about it. For me it was two beds (one lofted, one not), two desks with chairs, two end tables/drawers and two closets. First thing my roommate and I brought to the room was a TV and a mini-fridge, but that just brought the colors of black and white to the already… black and white room. It was a little depressing.

That is where we got creative. We took down the curtains and put up these cool blue ones with a galaxy print on it (gave the room a cool blue tint when the light hit it right). We both decided to get more colorful sheets for our beds and these multicolored lights to hand along the walls. And this really cool technicolor rug, which was a life saver ‘cause my feet HATE a cold floor.

If you haven’t sensed a theme, it’s color… color, color, color.  But that was just us. My roommate and I were just leaning reeeeeaaaallllllllyyyyy hard in the other direction of “blah.” But that’s the nice this about this part of the decorating, you can do whatever you want. Your dorm is essentially a blank canvas. You can apply any theme, any color, any anything you want. This is one of the first places in your life where you can be independently you. There are no wrong choices.


If there’s one thing I’ve inherited from my Mom, it’s the comforting feeling that a familiar photo can bring. If you ever visit my parent’s house, one of the first things you’ll notice is how she’s decorated it. Photos. Photos of her. Photos of her family. Photos of her friends. Photos of birthdays, of weddings, of graduations, of game nights and of… just life. Every direction you look in at my parent’s house, you’ll find a memory. So I decided I wanted my space to reflect that. My mom suggested that I have a wall of photos in my room. Perfect idea! There was just one problem… I don’t really own any physical photos.

But just because I didn't own any physical photos didn't mean I didn't have any. I had a ton of pictures! Mostly on Instagram and my camera roll. But it was a pain for me to have to download and print those photos. That’s when I found something super cool. It’s called FamMail. It’s this handy service that will sync with the photos I post on Instagram and mail them to me each month. They're 4x4in. square photos, which is perfect for creating a wall collage or sticking in special places, like around my mirror. Plus they get mailed straight to my address! It’s so easy. I signed up and now once a month I get the fun surprise of opening all my favorite memories, now printed! I like to think of it as like a subscription to the best photos on the internet, my own.

Rearrange the Space

Like I mentioned before, I chose to loft my bed when I moved into my dorm. For someone who might not know the term, “lofting” your bed is when you raise it leaving space below it for something else. In my case, I put my desk there. This allowed us to free up some precious floor space where we could place our even more precious television. And come on, if you’ve got to choose between a TV and a desk where you can do you’re homework, you’re going to choose… well the important thing is that we didn’t have to choose. And that’s the whole point about the rearranging, it gives you more options.

One thing today that is super important when you’re rearranging your dorm, maximize your wall outlet space. You and your roommate (or roommates, depending on what school you’re going to) are gonna need every outlet you can find for your phones, computers, mini-fridges, any electrical item you can think of. Even if you don’t cover any of the wall outlets, you might be surprised how quickly the spaces run out. You’ll definitely want to invest in power strips. In all seriousness though, you’ll want to use them safely. Last thing you want is to overload a power strip with just way too much plugged in at once. Plus that’s the kind of thing your R.A. (Resident Advisor) will be looking for, and you don’t want them yelling at you. It’s just no fun. Besides, there’s way better stuff they can yell at you about down the road. You’ll find out.

Multipurpose Furniture

Now, speaking of maximizing the furniture in your space, there are several types of items you’ll want to invest in. One of the things I used most often were these little sturdy storage boxes. They were small, but still big enough to fit books, shoes, movies; whatever in them. I could stack them neatly in the corner completely out of the way, or if I had some friends over, bring them out and provide extra seating. My roommate actually had a few of these box storage seats as well, and they actually decorated the entire thing with photos that we got from FamMail.

There are so many ways you can make your dorm your own.  For me personally, my favorite personal touch was decorating my place with my own photos; bringing my favorite memories from back home, and then adding new memories I made in school. And like I said before, there are no wrong choices when it comes to making the space your own. All you could ever do is make it more you. And there’s never anything wrong with that.

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