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Dorm Room Decorating Ideas

Updated on February 26, 2014

Dorm Room Creative And Functional Decorating Ideas

There are many dorm room decorating ideas that can be done when the kids start college and while some focus on 'chic, elegant and fun', the main idea for many people is to make the room functional, with lots of space (even when there seems to be none) in a very efficient way. Afteral dorm rooms are notoriously small, cramped and really not that pleasing to the eyes.

It's been a while since I was a college student, however I still remember those 'good old times'. Granted, I was more the geek type rather than the party type, but even so I needed the room to be decorated in a way that would suit me best. And I'm pretty sure other students did something similar to my ideas.

Initially my parents helped in setting up my room (I had a roommate but she was pretty cool too, we became sort of friends eventually), but after a while I re-did most of the decoration because I kept getting new stuff and the room seemed to shrink at the same rate that I was getting my new essentials in.

If you have any college dorm room decorating tips, share them in the Guestbook below, I'm sure many students will find them useful as well!

Image credits: Creative Commons Flickr

Note: try to avoid the look above in your dorm :)

Rearrange The Furniture

Rearrange Your Furniture To Reclaim Extra Space

futon sofa bed
futon sofa bed

Every dorm room is furnished with the necessary basics. I've seen several people who simply left everything the way it initially was, while leaving lots of empty space in corners and other strategic places, space that could have been so easily used with this and that.

When I went for the first time to my college dorm room, the first thing I did with my parents was to rearrange the furniture for the best layout that suited me most.

Now, don't forget that your dorm room is your living and breathing space for the next 4 or 5 years. If you don't move to another college or another wing, this will be your home, and also the place where you will entertain your friends, so you really need to make the most of it.

* For example make sure that the desk is in the corner to save extra space. This will also make your studying area. It's good to define this area right from the start, so that you get used to always going there to study. Your brain will get working faster this way too when it's time to cram.

* How often I've seen college dorm rooms where the bed was simply in the middle of the room, or close to it. The bed should be placed against the wall. This way you get more floor space in the room, and it will make the room look so much bigger as well.

If the dorm room doesn't have a bed (yep, I've seen that case too), the best bed to buy is a futon, a pull-out sofa (see image for example). This will not only save space because in the day it can be made into a sofa, while during the night it will open to a full bed, but it also looks much more elegant than a typical dorm room bed.

* If you have various needed appliances, one of the best place to store them is under your desk, which is usually pretty much a dead space, as they call it.

* Finally you need a fridge in the dorm room, but it shouldn't be large. A small refrigerator is perfect for those extra snacks and keeping the water or soda cool for whenever you need to 'recharge your batteries'.

Above: a cute Futon that works as a bed for the dorm.

This Small Compact Fridge Is Perfect For The Dorm

SPT 2.5 cu.ft Compact Refrigerator Stainless Door with Black Sides
SPT 2.5 cu.ft Compact Refrigerator Stainless Door with Black Sides

This is pretty much the fridge style I had while in college (granted, mine was a much older model, but the size and layout fit this one). It's really small, yet has enough place for storing all the cool things that you need. It has a reversible door, which is pretty comfy if you ask me, and it has a bottle door rack, along with an ice maker nook for getting those ice cubes in your drink.


Synchronize In Colors With Your Room Mate

Don't Clash Your Room Area With Your Neighbor's

matched dorm room
matched dorm room

This tip has nothing to do with functional, but with aesthetics. How often I've seen a dorm room that was literally at war: one side with the other. Especially for girls this tip should be useful.

Your favorite color might be pink, purple or bright yellow, and you want to bring all your bedding and other accessories in this very color to your dorm. Before you do that, check out first what your roomie has for favorites. She might have the same as you, but if not - especially if she hates your color choices, try to keep the colors down a notch.

Sure, do have a few items in your favorite color, but don't overdo it. It will really hurt the eyes of anyone coming in as a visitor, and in addition, instead of a friend for life you might end up with an enemy for life in your room mate.

See the image above: the room is neat, with both beds and room areas pretty much in the same color. Sure, some people might say this borders on boring, but honestly, it's better having a bit of boring compared to ugly mismatched room areas and big fights among roomies.

Image credits: Creative Commons Flickr

To Add Your Favorite Color, How About A Small Custom Rug Beside Your Bed?

Microfiber Dorm Rug - Cherry Pink - 6 X 9
Microfiber Dorm Rug - Cherry Pink - 6 X 9

If pink is your favorite color, you can still add some pink accents to your side of the room with a nice area rug that will perfectly fit your bed or futon. There are several sizes to choose from, and I love it because not only is anti-slip, but it can be easily washed with the machine. Nothing but sending it home to mom to wash it over the weekend and send it back to you once it's done.


Jazz Up Your Dorm Room Wall

Be Creative With Your Dorm Room Wall

dorm room wall decor
dorm room wall decor

Your wall is yours alone and you can be really creative there, and noone can say anything about your tastes and preferences.

There are several options here, and you can in fact be as creative and original as you like.

You can bring (or buy) your favorite paintings, some photos, and even a few posters. You can even add a nice wall decal or wall mural depicting palm trees, the beach or heck, even horses if you like them.

Another idea, however, one that I really enjoyed looking at a while ago, was to use an inspiration board by using a memo board (they're quite cheap to buy) and and posting things that you want to remember for school, or a favorite quote or even a recipe or a few pictures of your family and friends if it makes you happy.

Image credits: Creative Commons Flickr

Umbra Magnetic Pushpin Bulletin Board For Your Dorm Wall

Umbra 035515-410 Bulletboard Magnetic Bulletin Board, Large, Gray
Umbra 035515-410 Bulletboard Magnetic Bulletin Board, Large, Gray

A memo board like this one will be great to add your own photos, recipes or anything you want to keep right there within easy reach.


Have Your Own Space Within The Dorm

Set Boundaries With A Room Divider

cube bookcase
cube bookcase

There is nothing wrong with a bit of privacy and the truth is, not everyone is a very outgoing and extrovert person. I know I'm not one of them either. And for people like us, having our private space at times is essential for our well being.

One of the best things I found for creating that personal space in a small room is a so-called cube bookcase. This is a small bookcase that works very well as a room divider as well, while giving you place to add things like books and small knick-knacks on it.

The bookcase doesn't have to be very tall or very big. It's really up to you the type you get. My favorite is the one shown here as I do like tall ones, but narrow enough to have place to walk around to the other side of the room as well.

Above: a Cube bookcase as room divider

More Dorm Accessories For That Cool Look - And they're kind of essential too

ENHANCE USB Laptop Reading Light Clamp On Desk Lamp 7 LEDs & Flexible Metal Neck - Use as Work Light, Task Light & More - Attaches to Laptops, Desks, Tables & More
ENHANCE USB Laptop Reading Light Clamp On Desk Lamp 7 LEDs & Flexible Metal Neck - Use as Work Light, Task Light & More - Attaches to Laptops, Desks, Tables & More

When you're in bed and still need to study for a bit, a clip-on lamp becomes a necessity. It's really cheap too so it's easy to afford it and it will last you through all your college years.

Manual Climaweave Indoor/Outdoor Decorative Throw Pillow, 24 X 18-Inch, Flocked Together
Manual Climaweave Indoor/Outdoor Decorative Throw Pillow, 24 X 18-Inch, Flocked Together

It doesn't always have to be about necessities! A cool decorative pillow can really transform the room into an inviting oasis for your friends and even make it fun to be in the room for yourself.

Mathematical Formulas Coffee Mug - Ponder Famous Math Equations While You Enjoy Your Drink - Comes in a Fun Gift Box - by The Unemployed Philosophers Guild
Mathematical Formulas Coffee Mug - Ponder Famous Math Equations While You Enjoy Your Drink - Comes in a Fun Gift Box - by The Unemployed Philosophers Guild

If math is your main thing in college, I think this mug speaks for itself. And it will soon become your favorite mug to drink your coffee or tea from. Heck you'll even drink your water from it!

Shakespearean Insults Coffee Mug - Shakespeare's Wittiest and Meanest Insults - Comes in a Fun Gift Box
Shakespearean Insults Coffee Mug - Shakespeare's Wittiest and Meanest Insults - Comes in a Fun Gift Box

And if languages are more your I really need to explain?


A Few More Tips That Will Come In Handy

  1. Need your little side table near your bed? How about getting a cool waste basket, turning it upside down, and voila, you have your own table that won't take up much space.
  2. Your room might not have a mirror, but you can easily get one that is not too big, but can easily be hanged on your wall. Heck, everyone needs to look at their image once in a while.
  3. Don't overdo it, but bring a green plant or two to the room. It will make it more homey, lively and healthy too.
  4. Add a small cube ottoman for a dual purpose: for storage and for a nice ambient in the room too. And heck, you can even put your feet up, which adds to your level of comfort while studying for example.
  5. Bring from nice photo holder with your favorite photo (could be you and your boyfriend on it) and place it near the bed or on your study table. It makes the room just so much more homey instead of a cold dorm room.

A Fun Video Tour Of A College Dorm Room

When Packing For College, The First Thing You Added Was

When Packing For College, The First Thing You Added Was

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Do You Have Any College Dorm Room Decorating Ideas And Tips For Others?

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    • LauraCarExpert profile image


      5 years ago

      Keep it simple and try DIY projects to keep costs low.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Seperate you study space from your sleeping space and your 'comfy' place.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I think the dorm room should be a place where you feel as if you were at home. It is a place where the student needs to feel safe, so it is good to have anything that reminds him/her of home. It can be a mud, a towel, a door mat, a flower in a pot, anything.


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