You stepped inside your dorm room for the first time and you’re shocked to see it doesn’t look anything like the ones you have seen on Pinterest or Instagram…. ugh, so what gives?
Finding college dorm room ideas that fit what your dorm really looks like is hard and decorating your dorm room requires a little more work than simply buying stuff to hang on the walls.
But since most college student budgets aren’t very big you have to get slightly more crafty, so I’ve put together these inexpensive dorm decorating tips to make your space look better than Pinterest, yup!
Follow these dorm decorating tips and your space will start to transform in no time. Plus, if you invest a little money at first, the next 3 years will be easier to manage: Win!
1. Get risers for your bed
First and foremost, this is important if you want to maximize space; these are super inexpensive and make a huge difference.
You can basically loft your bed without spending too much money. And do you know what a lofted bed means? MORE ROOM!
You can put bins under your bed for extra storage, plus if you do put bins you can take up some of that ugly floor space you don’t want to see anyways. Speaking of ugly floor space…
2. Put cubbies under your bed
Now that your bed is lofted, or nice and high off the floor, use the space and get some cubbies and get organized.
These are the best because they are super versatile. You can get bins for them and put additional storage there, you can fold your clothes nicely and use them as clothes shelves, or you can even get some frames and decorations to add a little something extra to your space.
Whatever you decide you cannot go wrong with adding some cubbies under your bed!
My favorite part about these ones are when you move on to your next place, whether it is a bigger dorm or an apartment, you can use these cubbies again and again!
They can even switch orientation and become a bookshelf, the possibilities are endless.
3. Get an area rug (or 2)
Rugs cover up the cold and ugly tile that probably exists in your dorm room, and out of all the dorm room ideas, this one will make a huge difference.
Who really wants to wake up in the morning and step on the cold floor that hundreds of students before you have stepped on? Not you!
Want to know another reason why an area rug is cool? Now you can lay on your floor and not feel so weird about it.
Especially if you get one that is fluffy and soft. Adding more spaces for you to sit and sprawl out is essential in a dorm, you will quickly learn that space is sacred and utilizing all of it is a must.
4. Get a tall vanity mirror and lean it on the floor
This is my favorite decorating tip ever for so many reasons.
The first being, you don’t have to hang anything up, you just lean the mirror against the wall and boom! You’re in.
The second being, these mirrors are much more flattering than the ones that hang over the doors and look like funhouse mirrors.
Putting a tall mirror up against the wall also welcomes an area of your room to be cozy and cute for Instagram and Snapachat mirror photos to pop into your story.
I like to put a small rug in front of mine so I can sit on the floor and do my hair or makeup without having to go to the bathroom every time.
5. Get some plants
It might not be the first thing you thought of when moving in, but adding a few potted plants in your space is a tried and true way to brighten up any interior space, especially when you’re on a small college budget.
It’s pretty easy to buy all kinds of little plants and learn how to take care of them. Succulents require minimal care and they look so pretty scattered around your space.
6. String up lights
How to decorate a dorm room 101: String lights.
Before you buy these, make sure your college allows them!
String lights add a warmer light to your room and make it feel a little more relaxing which you will definitely need in between all the late nights studying.
Plus, string up lights are way better than the harsh bright lights that are probably above your bed and desk. Those can be a real mood kill, but string lights will make it better!
7. Make a gallery wall
Let's face it, the best dorm room ideas are the ones that are the most creative in a small space.
That's why a gallery wall is a cost-effective and fun way to make your room have more personality. What’s better than putting photos up of your favorite places and people.
You also don’t need frames for this but of course, you can get some if you’d like.
With or without frames you can arrange the photos symmetrically or asymmetrically, however you want!
There’s no right or wrong way here. Try it for yourself. The total project could cost you as low as $10.
8a. Put up removable wallpaper
Chances are your walls are some sort of painted brick.
In other words, they look like the inside of a prison cell. This is probably why your room feels so unwelcoming. So if your walls are really ugly, pick a wall and hang removable wallpaper on it.
This sounds daunting, but it’s actually quite simple and a huge game-changer.
This can add a nice flare to your room while covering up the ugly and peeling paint. You can buy solid colors or prints. The options are endless with this so start looking!
Bonus points if you can get your roommates on board and do the same, then your room can have coordinating walls and color schemes.
8b. Hang a tapestry
Not feeling removable wallpaper, that ok!
You can also hang up a tapestry to hide the walls underneath and it’s a lot easier as well. Plus, you can buy a tapestry just about anywhere for not a lot of money.
Check out Amazon for a cute tapestry to make your room feel less like a dungeon and more like a sanctuary!
Tapestries are available in calming patterns, your favorite nature views. If you’re going for the calm and relaxed vibe in your room, tapestries are a total must.
9. Hangup a large calendar
These are the best!
They actually help so much for the big things you don’t want to forget. Of course still use a planner for little things like assignments and daily tasks, but for things like dinner plans, exams, and breaks, get a big calendar and hang it up for everyone to use!
It’s nice to know where your roommates are going to be so you can coordinate your schedules accordingly, especially if you like to study in your dorm when no one is home.
A big calendar serves many purposes and they look cute hung up.
10. Ottomans for the win
Ottomans are so trendy right now, for good reason! Ottomans have so many purposes and in a dorm room, you need to maximize your space as much as you can.
Here are just a few uses for ottomans:
- They can be used to kick your feet up on those long nights studying
- You can use them as extra seating when your friends are over
- They make great stepping stools (if they’re hard enough)
- If you loft your bed you can use it to hoist yourself up into it
- They look like floor pillows and who doesn’t like floor pillows?!
- Some have added storage in them (major bonus)
So you need an ottoman in your dorm, it’s essential!
11. Play with prints
Posters and murals have always been a serious dorm room staple.
It’s a cost-effective way to add a little flare and show off your personality without having to pay for framing, or get stuck with lugging around heavy art every time you move in and out.
One way to save even more costs – instead of paying for a poster at a store, you can easily take advantage of websites and printing services to create your own.
Etsy has a lot of options that you can download to your computer and then print at a local printing service for not a lot of money.
You can also buy sets of prints and make a gallery wall like this! The options are endless with prints.
12. Washi tape is underrated
Still new(ish), Washi tape has become an easy way to magically make changes to a dorm room’s décor, even if you are someone with commitment issues (or strict dorm room decorating policies).
Each roll of Washi tape has a unique pattern that you can use in all different parts of your room.
People typically use it to line bookshelves, their desk, or or as a swap for the regular, boring tape you might use to hold posters and pictures up on your dorm room walls.
13. Neon signs to make a statement
Light up neon or similar signs are super fun, but also tend to be pretty expensive unless you are an amazing flea market shopper.
For a fun DIY project, think about using cardboard and strings of Christmas lights to create your own customized signs on the cheap.
Plus, it’s a fun project for a rainy or snowy day when there isn’t much else to do on campus.
Grab your friends, get some lights, and start crafting.
14. Make your bed one of a kind
As the year goes on and your college budget gets tighter, you might get sick of the original comforter and pillowcases you bought at the beginning of the year.
But being antsy for change doesn’t give you the excuse to spend money on buying a new set.
There are tons of guides online that will show you how to customize your bedding, adding a little bit of your own personality to the store bought stuff.
Try getting a neutral color comforter that goes with mostly anything so that way as the years go on you can switch up the throw pillows and throw blankets, making your bed look different for not a lot of money!
15. Throw blankets
Alright, I’m going to let you in on a secret, you will immediately regret not having a throw blanket in college. Just look how cozy this bed looks because of the blanket!
For starters, you do not control the heat in your dorm, and some days it’s just plain cold.
So what do you do when you have to study at your desk and you’re freezing? You grab your throw blanket, that’s what you do.
Throw blankets add a nice touch to your bed and they are super cozy. Plus, blankets knowingly make us feel more comfortable and calms.
This one is my personal favorite and you can get it right on Amazon!
16. Oil diffusers
Since most dorms and colleges don’t allow you to have candles on campus, you have to be a little more creative in the ways you want your dorm to smell nice. In comes oil diffusers!
Oil diffusers are amazing. Essential oils can help with a lot of things like stress, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, focusing, relaxing and so on and so forth.
They also smell so good. You can easily switch them up and they are completely dorm friendly. If you do anything for your room, get an oil diffuser. A nice smelling dorm is a happy dorm!
Welcome to your sanctuary
Decorating your college space doesn’t have to empty out your wallet or put a dent on your parents’ credit card statement.
Scoping out used furniture online, buying at flea markets, checking out buy and sell apps, and making your own decorations will help you have a beautiful space while staying on top of that.
Inspired by these dorm room ideas? Send us your college dorm room to be featured to firstname.lastname@example.org!