Whether you’re just starting college or want to refresh your dorm, you need decor ideas that are easy, fun, and affordable. Check out these 22 trendy and space-saving decorative essentials that can transform your small dorm space!
Keep a Standard Layout
Dorm room design starts with choosing the best layout for your unique needs! If you want to prioritize personal space, push the beds against opposite walls so you and your roommate can each customize your own side. You can even add a room divider by hanging curtains or a tapestry with string, hooks, or a shower curtain tension rod to give yourselves some privacy. Plastic or wooden foldable room dividers are also great dorm decor options.
Try an L-Shaped Arrangement
Of course, you can always try rearranging your dorm room to maximize space. If your roommate is your best friend or someone you already feel comfortable with, consider arranging your beds in an L-shape. This setup will provide more room for activities, especially if you use space-saving furniture in the rest of the room!
Loft Your Bed for More Room
Elevate your sleeping area and open your shared bedroom to space-saving layouts and endless activities! Below your lofted bed is the perfect spot to create a study nook, add a futon, or put additional storage furniture. Plus, storing your college dorm necessities under your lofted bed will ensure they’re always within reach.
Greet Visitors with a Welcome Mat
The best dorm rooms set the mood right away. A doormat in the hallway will help your dorm stay clean and let your neighbors know what you’re all about! Consider printing your favorite quote or saying on your mat to greet your guests. Want your mat to be one-of-a-kind? Try your hand at making a DIY welcome mat that’ll work with your dorm room’s theme.
Decorate the Door
Most university dormitories take college door decorations very seriously. Decorate your door for holidays and special occasions, and choose decorations that represent you and your roommate. Show your school spirit on game day, add cobwebs for Halloween, or cut out paper hearts for Valentine’s Day! You can also spruce up the back of your door by hanging a shoe pocket-organizer to store small items, or use hooks to hang and display coats, hats, sunglasses, or other small items you need to grab on your way out.
Find Your Color Scheme
Create a vibrant dorm room by picking a color scheme that works for your aesthetic! A neutral base can help small, shared spaces seem larger and will make it easier to merge styles with your roommate. Incorporate light hues using a pastel or neutral colored sheet set, comforter, and decorative pillows. Or hang up tapestries or posters in the same color palette for a cohesive dorm room theme. A primarily neutral color scheme will really make your accent pieces and bold decor stand out!
Take Advantage of Vertical Space
Small-space living means utilizing hidden storage and vertical space. Use wall shelves and bookshelves to save space while storing a few books or notebooks, aromatherapy essentials, or a portable speaker. You can also maximize dorm space and decor by using adhesive wall hooks. Attach hooks to the ceiling to hang up lights or a divider curtain, or hang up some fun dorm wall decor. You could even use them to prop up a trailing plant’s vines!
Incorporate Cube Storage
Use space-saving storage containers for your desk or under the bed, and use storage cube organizers to help keep your university dorm room tidy. Storage cubes can be used to store books, blankets, clothes, and more. Often, this hidden storage hack also adds some color without being too loud—making cube storage a fantastic dorm room decor tip for guys! Maximize your dorm room’s space and have your storage cube unit double as a nightstand or entertainment stand. Or lay a long unit on its side and put a long cushion on top to create a storage bench and extra seating in your dorm.
Use a Rolling Cart
Nightstands and tables can take up precious space in a small room. Opting to use a rolling cart in your dorm room is a great small room storage idea! Rolling carts can be used anywhere in the room and can hold a small arrangement of items like an alarm clock, books, chargers, and more. You can also decorate rolling carts to match your dorm’s decor. Try selecting a cart color that you know you will love or make it a DIY project by using washi tape, magnets, or even decorative duct tape for a pop of personality.
Decorate with Window Curtains
Adding curtains to your space is an easy way to enhance your dorm and make it feel less drab. Curtains can cover up built-in blinds and make your dorm pop while creating a cozy atmosphere. Plus, curtains can be your best friends when it comes to afternoon naps! Remember your dorm room’s theme when shopping for curtains, and consider different colors and textures—or even blackout curtains, which are perfect for darkening a room. Hang the curtains using a tension rod or adhesive hooks.
String Up Twinkle Lights
A staple of all cute dorm rooms is fun lighting. Using a variety of lighting ideas and creativity, you can transform your college bedroom. Add classic twinkle lights for a soft glow and whimsical vibe, or find a unique lamp for a more personal touch. Put the lamp on your nightstand, get a floor-length lamp, or swap out your thrifted lamp’s lightbulb for a color-changing bulb. If you’d like to brighten up the darker parts of your space, like the closets or under your lofted bed, you can attach LED light strips to help illuminate the space.
Add Art to the Walls
Spruce up blank space by adding an accent wall! Create a photo wall, or use a tapestry to add personality and visual intrigue to your living space. Make a wall collage with photos, magazine cutouts, and inspirational quotes by using poster putty or push pins. Then continue adding to your collage as you find more dorm accessories. Also consider hanging up a dry erase board, corkboard, or chalkboard to help organize your schedule, and leave space for silly messages from friends.
Use Mirrors to Decorate
Opt for a floor-length mirror that can be hung on the back of a door or placed up against a wall to open the small space, and write on it with dry-erase markers or add stickers to personalize it. Mini mirrors are another useful dorm decoration! Stick them on the walls by your desk to give your room extra character and dimension. A mirror with a storage compartment to hang accessories, jewelry, and more is another useful way to improve your dorm’s storage and organization.
Bring in Plants
Houseplants can bring life and color into your space. If you haven’t had plants before, there are plenty of common houseplants that are easy to care for! In addition to bringing some color to your dorm, they also have many other benefits—like reducing air pollutants and even reducing stress! If you don’t have a green thumb but love the look of plants, try purchasing fake plants as a way to embrace greenery without the maintenance.
Use Throw Pillows & Blankets
Choose a fun, stylish comforter for your bed, and make your space cozy and snug by adding throw pillows and throw blankets to make relaxing or studying more comfortable. These can also be great dorm accessories because they add a splash of color and brighten up a room. Plus, you can make your pillows more personalized and decorative by doing a fun DIY project with friends!
Create a Headboard
Give your bed and the wall some extra flair by purchasing a headboard or create your own DIY headboard just in time for you to move in or renovate your space. Choose soft material for extra comfort, or opt for headboards with shelving space so you can store items like an alarm clock, chargers, and books nearby. You can even elevate a cube storage shelf to use as a headboard!
Put a Trunk at the End of Your Bed
Storage trunks can help hide papers, textbooks, seasonal clothing, and more. A trunk can also be used as a memory box to store photos and other memorabilia from the school year, a makeshift table, desk, chair, or just trendy decor. Depending on your style, you can look for one that’s woven, wooden, or even patterned, with different types of locks or clasps.
Warm the Floor with Rugs
Dorm room decorating ideas don’t have to be difficult! Resident halls don’t always provide rooms with thick carpet—they’re often tile, linoleum, or thin carpet, making the floor pretty hard. Bring comfort and softness to your floors and help your dorm room feel like home. Not only will rugs add a dash of style and comfort, but they can also help absorb the sounds of a busy dorm.
Add Extra Seating
Give your guests plenty of space for late-night hangouts, and get a storage ottoman, bean bag, or storage trunk for extra seating options. Plus, these types of items have the added perk of providing your dorm room with hidden storage—while still looking trendy! Pick items and colors that will match your dorm’s theme, and opt for sturdy items that can support people. A cute dorm room idea is to add cushions, blankets, and pillows on the seats, so the area feels cozier.
Maximize Your Desk Space with Decor
Everything on your desk—your organizer, lamp, pencil holder, and more—can be coordinated with the rest of your dorm room design! You can even create exactly what you want for your college storage needs with a DIY desk project. Plan your schedule by using a whiteboard/corkboard combo, decorated with fun magnets, pushpins, pictures, and more. Give some extra light to your space by adding a desk lamp to help with late-night study sessions. Get crafty and collect scrap materials, magazine cutouts, or patterned paper to DIY a craft organizer for your notepads, scissors, and other supplies.
Customize your Closet
If you have a closet or place for your clothes, choose to save space in your dorm by using a closet organizer or multiple hook hangers to keep your items neat and organized. This can give you more space in your college-issued dresser as well as allow you to easily grab what you need. Don’t have a door on your closet? Use a fun, patterned curtain to hide your belongings! If you do have a door on your closet, opt for an over-the-door mirror or shoe rack to take advantage of the space. Keep your dirty laundry out of sight, and throw them in a cute laundry hamper or colorful laundry basket.
Create a Kitchen
Just because you don’t have a kitchen in your dorm doesn’t mean you can’t have all your kitchen essentials! Keep a mini fridge or microwave under your lofted bed or alongside cube storage. Place a coffee maker and mugs on a rolling cart for quick, easy access to your morning coffee. Have plenty of nonperishable snacks on hand, and use drawers or a small curtain in your storage area to keep food items stored out of sight.