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4 Ways to Decorate Your Dorm Room

Updated on May 9, 2015
janikon profile image

Stuart has spent three years trying to convince his boyfriend he is not hiding books under their bed and they are certainly not multiplying.

Perhaps, instead of accessorizing with cases of beer, you should try some pillows or a throw. Just a thought.
Perhaps, instead of accessorizing with cases of beer, you should try some pillows or a throw. Just a thought. | Source

Some would say the best part of heading off to University is the chance to expand your mind with all the higher learning you will be exposed to. One of high school teachers equated the time spent in University to the pupae stage of Monarch butterflies (unfortunately, for us students our pupae stage lasts four to five years, not two weeks), we enter immature children and emerge, years later, fully functioning mature adults, ready to take on the world. I think we can all agree the best part about attending University was the freedom to decorate your dorm room. You could do whatever you wanted to that room or use whatever materials moved you at the time, cement blocks and wood boards as shelves? Um, of course. Wallpaper the wall over your bed with photos of your friends, the camp you attended for years, or candid shots of your dog? So chic.

I am not sure about you but I did not feel like a fully functioning adult upon emergence of University, in fact the only thing I could be sure about was my extreme dislike of citrus colours. I may not have known where I was going to work. How I was going to support myself beyond the retail job I held, at the time, but I knew the apartment I lived in, while figuring these things out, would not be orange. And that seemed good enough for me.

I have compiled a list of fantastic ways for students, just starting out, to decorate their dorm rooms (and by extension first room in student housing) without breaking the bank. Because, personally, I have always believed time at University is more about a four year lesson in frugality.

Some very important advice for procrastinating students, with a leaning problem
Some very important advice for procrastinating students, with a leaning problem | Source

Alternatives to Paint

There are a lot of Universities which forbid students from painting the walls of the dorm room, so students are forced to become creative when it comes to creating a space all their own. You have several alternatives to painting but the most inexpensive would be using posters to decorate your room, they are large enough to draw the eye in and become the focal point of the room. You are able to showcase your favourite movies or favourite stars while adding some much needed colour to a bland space.

  1. Remember to choose posters for movies that you have seen, do not hang a poster up in your dorm room of a movie you have not seen. Be assured someone will ask you what you thought of the movie and you never want your response to be, "I haven't seen it yet but I thought the poster was interesting looking" No. Watch the movie.
  2. Do not hang pornographic images in your room, you are not a fifteen year old boy anymore. You want to create a space where everyone feels comfortable, this will not be achieved through pornography. Also, a note for guys, most women are not going to be impressed that you have hung playboy playmates centerfold posters over your bed, this is not the key to 'scoring' in University.
  3. Try to limit your celebrity photos to one, you do not want to appear obsessed and childish. You can still have eight folders dedicated to photos of them on your MacBook but limit the evidence of your crush to one poster on your wall. Just because I have 98 posters of Zac Efron wallpapering my bedroom, does not mean you should emulate me.
  4. Use artistic posters, as well - try not to limit yourself to a movie and movie star theme. You are a well-rounded person, it does not hurt to look show that on your walls.

A lot of comic book stores, super centers and poster stores have frequent sales to get rid of the overstock, so keep tabs on them. You can usually find some pretty interesting posters at great deals with a little forethought.


Affordable Accent Walls

If you are allowed to paint the walls of your dorm room, please avoid using the school colours in your design scheme. This is not only cliche - most can surmise by attending the school, you also support it - but has also been done countless times before, whether it be on television or three dorm rooms down from you, we are trying for fresh and original. The school colours are best used to paint your bare chest during school sporting events and fraternity initiations, so keep that in mind when coming with your design plan.

Pain can become somewhat expensive, especially when you are living on a strict budget for the first time, so, to save money, choose one wall to paint. Most schools whitewash all the walls in the dorms, so you would be creating an accent wall; this will create a focal point in your room. I would suggest not painting the same wall that houses a window or some other natural focal point but instead, using a solid uninterrupted wall. You can mirror the colour in the small accessories, such as; pillows, throws and small trinkets.

Remember, you do not always need to use the same colour to create flow in your room, you can use complimentary colours throughout. If you have painted your accent wall a bright green than try using a few solid yellow and white throw pillows on your bed, these pops of colour will make the green to appear more vibrant.

You can usually purchase a half-gallon of paint for under $25, from Home Depot or Lowes. Though, if you have chosen a dark colour, such as, purple or deep blue than I would suggest getting an entire gallon of paint, you want to avoid patchy spots where the white shows through.

Note: Remember to investigate the dormitory decorating rules in your admissions booklet or in the student living package you receive during frosh week, these should also be available to students via the Universities official website. Some Universities allow you to paint the walls, as long as you repaint them come end of term, so remember to factor that into the end of the year costs. Always be informed rather than sorry in the end.

5 Quick Flea Market Tips

Searching the Flea Market

Sometimes we cannot afford those really interesting pieces we see our television counterparts displaying in their dorm rooms, but it does not mean we cannot find ones for ourselves. Take an afternoon to visit some flea shops or secondhand stores with a few friends (or ask your Mom to come, she would love it!) and look for interesting pieces that appeal to you. What statement are you trying to make in your room? Always ask yourself this question when shopping for anything to go into your space, this will lower the chances of your room appearing schizophrenically decorated.

Plain ceramic animals are very hip, right now and can be spray painted the colour you want for under $10, so why not get the cream-coloured hippo smiling at your from the top shelf? If you are a fashion major and are looking for an interesting way of decorating your room, I suggest scouring the jewelry section of the market. You can usually find some pretty unique and retro pieces for under $5, with a little bit of glue and a frame, you can create an interesting set works of art for your room. Create three and hang them above your bed, you will be the envy of that bitter-fashionista down the hall.

The possibilites are pretty endless when it comes to the inspiration flea markets hold, they are practically overflowing with inexpensive solutions to any decorating challenge. You can also make a pretty interesting game out of it, so gather your friends and set a $25 limit and see who comes out with the best stuff. You will be amazed at the fun you will have and the stuff you will find.

Reuse and Recycle

There are a lot of possessions that do not need to follow you to University, depending on where you are placed or whom you are placed with (if you are in a shared room) you would not necessarily want them knowing you sleep with a lucky teddy bear, named Graham Cracker. But you can recycle and reuse several things in your already existing space, which is a godsend since you are not made of money. Here are three cost saving recyclable items, which can be used in your dorm room:

  1. Pillows
  2. Bedding (though, most teenagers have, at least, a double bed, so you may need to shop for a set of single sized bedding)
  3. Towels (trust me, your Mother, if she's anything like mine, suddenly had a plethora of 'old' towels she was dying to get rid of)
  4. Decorative Pieces, ie Framed Photos, Knickknacks or Keepsakes (remember, when living in a shared room, not to bring valuable things into the space until you know the person. I would suggest leaving the extra important items in your childhood bedroom, just to limit the chances they go missing if your roommate happens to have an 'open door' policy)

Depending on where you are attending school, the University usually has standard dorm furniture within the space already, so consider yourself lucky not having to cart your entire bedroom set to school with you. Since you are living in a small space, I would limit the amount of the things you bring to essentials to making the room feel like yours and leave the non-essentials (childhood books, stuff animals (all 43 of them) and an antique doll collection) at home.

You will be surprised how much of your stuff you can live without.


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    • profile image

      Mark 2 years ago

      Nice hub ! I like your ideas.

      Me and my roomate just have this as decoration for our room ;)

      its basicly for free and it gives the room a better vibe.

    • hisandhers profile image

      hisandhers 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      @Claire- those are amazing!

    • profile image

      Claire 5 years ago

      Command strips work great!

    • janikon profile image

      Stuart A Jeffery 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      @ certifiedcrush you want to avoid any kind of oil based adhesive, it damages walls and your posters - it sucks

    • hisandhers profile image

      hisandhers 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      @ certifiedcrush- I feel your pain! You should always buy the white kind though. I made the mistake of using the blue kind of put posters on my dorm room wall and when I left at the end of the year it left unsightly stains!

      @janikon- Great job, as per usual.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Nice ideas. My nephew is at least a year from college but we have been thinking about where he will stay once he gets started.

    • certifiedcrush profile image

      certifiedcrush 5 years ago from Charleston, WV

      Nice suggestions. Some poster putty is also a good purchase for any of the students 'lucky' enough to be in a dorm with painted cinderblock walls. I unfortunately speak from experience on that one!