Going away to college is full of awesome new adventures, but pretty much everyone will agree that one part totally sucks – tiny, boring college dorm rooms! You’ve probably seen those awesome dorm room makeovers online, but unless you’re some sort of DIY expert (or have the cash to hire one!) that can seem pretty daunting for us regular people.
But you don’t need to spend a whole lot of time and money to make your dorm room look great. With these 10 simple college dorm room ideas, you’ll be well on the way to making your dorm really feel like home – or better!
But first, some important (anchor) points
Because you don’t own the place, you’re usually limited with what you can do. You normally can’t paint, put hooks in the walls, or make any structural changes to the room.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative! Look for existing anchor points– curtain rails, window frames, anything! These will be crucial if you plan to hang anything up around the room.
Command hooks are going to be your best friends. Stock up on a variety at the start of your makeover, or order them from Amazon as you need them. They hold a surprising amount of weight, and then when you have to leave they just come right off!
If your room has a popcorn ceiling, you’re going to have trouble sticking anything to it, except maybe blu-tack. If you want to hang any roof decorations, just add hooks as high as you can on the walls.
With that out of the way, let’s get stuck into our 10 insanely awesome college dorm room ideas!
1. Light the night – with LED string lights!
If you’ve seen college dorm room makeovers, you’ve probably seen something in common. String lights, fairy lights, twinkle lights, Christmas lights – whatever you call them, there’s a reason they’re in every good college dorm… they look super awesome!
Just hanging up any plain old string light can make a room look more homey, but if you really want to get the most out of string lights in your dorm room, have them interact with some other element. For example, strings lights could:
- Frame the edge of your bed or window
- Light up the bottom of a piece of furniture (where the bulbs themselves are hidden)
- Provide a backlight to your shelves or wardrobe
Fairy lights also look great behind something partly see-through. Try hanging a string of lights behind a partly see through drape – it looks really good. LED lights don’t run hot, so don’t worry about the burning the place down (remember this if you ever think about candles!).
They also have a cool secondary use – they’re lights! String lights are perfect to set a mood or to read by, without having to have an ugly lamp in your room.
2. Get clever with rope
If you’re after a rustic or boho look on a budget, there a lot you can do with a little rope and some crafty creativity. Whether it’s basically string or a half-inch thick, rope is an awesome material for every DIY’er.
Here’s some stuff to consider:
- Run thin rope between anchor points and hang stuff off it like a clothes line.
- Wind the rope in a spiral, or any other shape. Use a hot glue gun to stick the rope to itself as you go (or to a back board). Now use it as a coaster, a bulletin board, anything you can think of!
- Find a backboard to mount your rope on and write a word with it, using a hot glue gun to hold the rope in place. You name, something motivating, or just what makes you happy!
3. Spruce up flat surfaces
Dorm rooms are notoriously boring. A lot of that is because of the masses of blank space, like walls, wardrobe doors, appliances and the roof.
But these are really just blank canvases to express yourself on! You’ll eventually cover them with photos, momentos, and other things, but why not start with a better canvas? By adding a pattern or texture, you’ll already have filled in the gaps when you put more stuff on the wall later.
Here are a few ideas:
- Peel-and-stick wallpaper. This stuff is incredible. Turn a flat surface another color, or make it look like a whole different material, peel-off wallpaper is a perfect way to make your room look awesome!
- Washi Tape. Full-on wallpapering not your style? Try some artistic lines of washi tape! You might just creating a feature line along the edge of a draw, or completely pinstripe the front of your wardrobe door.
4. Get ruggy!
You can’t do anything with your dorm room’s floor, but you can put stuff on top of it! Rugs are quick to throw down and quick to change, and can be as cheap or expensive as you want.
Combining multiple rugs can really change the feel of a room too. Find rugs with different feels to create different zones. Or layer a few rugs for an effect that looks more expensive than it really is!
5. Re-use some old thing from home
We all have some treasured things at home, right? But they’re mostly in boxes or in our old bedrooms, doing nothing. And look, some of these should never see the light of day, but lots of them are college dorm room gold!
Find books or ornaments you love the look of, and use them as a feature on a bedside table, bookshelf, or bookcase. They can look really amazing!
It’ll look best when these fit the room’s style. You could set the room’s style around the ornaments in the first place or (more realistically) make some changes to fit them in a little more.
6. Pick a color scheme
When we talk about the style of a college dorm room, color is super important. A room with heaps of clashing colors might seem cool in your head, but it mostly looks a bit cluttered.
Instead, pick a nice pallet of colors and use objects that match the pallet. Pastels always look insanely awesome, and are easy on the eyes.
7. Be creative with your photos
What you put on your wall is up to you, but photos will probably be there. Instead of just hanging up whatever you have printed out, think about how you display your memories.
Here are just a few ideas to start you off:
- Be consistent with frames. Don’t just throw any old frame – be deliberate! That means using frames that don’t clash with each other, or with the overall room.
- Remember that string clothes line? Hang photos from it with wooden pegs! If you take instax shots, this is an awesome way to display them. What if you ran string lights along as well?
- Reuse your Insta shots. They took time to snap, so why not use them again?
If you aren’t feeling creative, use a service like PhotoCandy that will print and deliver your photos in an awesome, ready to hang format.
8. Pillows and cushions
You can never have enough pillows and cushions. Ever. Yes, pillows help you get a good night sleep, but they’re also an awesome way to match the style you’ve picked for your college dorm room makeover.
Cushions come in heaps of different colors and styles, you’ll definitely find some in your price range, that suit the vibe you’re going for.
Remember cushions can also serve as seats and backrests, so having lots gives you options around what furniture you can do without.
9. Make the most of your storage
Speaking of space, the last thing you need in your dorm is a lack of storage! Most of the time your clothes won’t suit the style of your dorm room, so you’ll want the option to hide them.
Most dorms have highish beds, with the under-the-bed area used as a wardrobe. Use this well! Also head to IKEA and find some other clever storage ideas.
If this storage area doesn’t look great, you can hide it behind a drape or sheet, hung from command hooks on your bed frame. Or you could just tuck under your mattress!
10. Use your clothes as decorations
Let’s just assume you dress well, okay? If your room matches the style of your clothes, you could solve two problems at once.
An easy way to do this is to use scarves or wraps as drapes and curtains. Just make sure you’re able to take them down when you need to wear them!
You can also use your accessories as tasteful wall decorations. A command hook can hold a handbag on the side of the wardrobe, while the right necklace can make a blank patch of wall look much classier.
Bonus college dorm room idea: Plants
Plants aren’t on the main list, but they’re still soooo good. Plants look awesome, they often smell great, and they both cool down and purify the air in your room (thanks science!).
Think about plants early in a college dorm room makeover, but don’t put them in until the end of the process. Plants are living things, so you need to be sure you have the space for them to breathe – literally!
Make sure you pick plants that suit your room’s conditions. If you don’t have a lot of sun, get a hardy plant, like a rubber plant. Look after your plant-babies like real babies and they’ll last you your whole college career.
Getting the most of your dorm room
With just these 10 college dorm room ideas, we guarantee you’ll be able to make your dorm look awesome!
Be creative, and use these as starting points for the next cool dorm room idea you have!