college dorm room

Dorm rooms can look dull and sterile when you first walk into what will be your new home for the next nine months. You probably have lots of restrictions imposed by your school, like no painting, no altering the dorm standard issue furniture (which may have survived dozens of careless former owners), and no holes anywhere in the wall or ceiling.

Don’t worry though, that still leaves you a surprising amount of room to work with if you’re creative, and you will be able to have a beautifully decorated dorm room with a few simple college dorm room decorating ideas.

Adhesive wall hooks

Since most colleges insist that you make absolutely no holes in your walls, adhesive wall hangers and hooks are going to become your new best friend. They are surprisingly strong and come in many varieties: hooks, adhesive strips, wall clips, etc. You can use adhesive wall strips to hang up artwork, textiles, strings of lights, or wall organizers.



Nautical-themed curtains [CC License via]

Hopefully, you have a window in your dorm room, but it probably won’t be very pretty and will probably not have the world’s loveliest view. To soften the harsh lines of a standard dorm room, as well as having the option to shut out more sunlight when you want to sleep late, curtains are vital. In recessed windows, tensions rods between the inner “walls” of the window area can be used to hold up curtains without leaving marks in the wall.


Most dorm rooms don’t have a lot of provided storage, and if you don’t bring some room organizers in yourself, you’ll soon be finding your things in piles on the floor or stuffed into hidden corners, not to be seen again until move out in May. Only you know what works for you, but drawers and shelves are always useful. Carts with a few sliding drawers are always useful, and can be found for under $50, as are any small shelving units.


Bold, colorful rugs make a huge impact on a monochromatic space: try placing a doormat just inside or outside of your entrance to reduce dirt tracking into your room, and a rug or two inside your room, especially beside the bed, can make a fun statement. Small rugs are fairly inexpensive (under $100 and sometimes under $50) and add a touch of softness and texture to your dorm.


Lighting is a huge part of interior decorating and design, and for good reason. Good lighting (as opposed to harsh overhead fluorescent lights) can make you feel better in your dorm and also make the room look more attractive. You will probably want at least a floor lamp and a task lamp (which provides more focused light) for your desk area. You can also hang strings of lights for a soft glow at the top of your walls, and attach them with adhesive wall hooks.

Desk supplies

You will probably be spending a lot of time at your desk studying and researching while you’re in your dorm room, and there’s no reason why your desk supplies can’t be both functional and stylish. Target and the Container Store both have a wide range of cute desk accessories, such as staplers, binders and monthly calendars, that are available in a wide range of color schemes to match the rest of your decor.


Artwork is one of the finishing touches you should apply to your room: it makes a dorm room feel like a home and reflects what you find beautiful. Art prints can be found quite cheap online at sites like, especially if you don’t get pictures frames. Home resale shops are also filled with donated artwork, which you can either use as-is or re-purpose, changing out the frames or the pictures. If you have art canvases, you can wrap a fabric print you love around it and staple in the back, creating an instant piece of art.

dorm room 2

Decor and accessories

Like artwork, little accessories can make a dorm room feel comfortable and genuine, instead of like a catalog. Bring figurines and knickknacks that you love from home, or find cute items at a thrift store or a home decor store. You don’t need that many – a little goes a long way, and it can feel cluttered quickly, but little things that make you smile or feel good make your dorm room a place you love to be.


You will want your friends and dorm mates to be comfortable in your dorm room, so extra seating is always a plus. Beanbags are a popular option because they are fun and cheap, but you can go a little more high class and use an ottoman or bench (especially one that has storage inside, as well). Small ottomans can be pushed inside taller pieces of furniture (such as your desk or closet) when not in use.