Your dorm room is the ultimate blank canvas. Without a lot of details decided for you -- they pretty much come standard with four boring white walls and maybe a couple pieces of simple wooden furniture to work with -- you can transform your dorm into anything you want it to be.
Sure, there are some rules -- you probably don't want to break out the paint or go hammering things into the walls if you want to get your room deposit back at the end of the year. But there are plenty of ways you can achieve the room of your dreams with dorm-friendly design items.
We've pulled together a list of some of the hottest dorm decor items on our site for the 2023-2024 school year. Whether you're deciding on the look for your very first freshman dorm room (!!!) or you're moving into an off-campus apartment to ring in your senior year, these dorm-friendly decor items will help you add some big personality to even the smallest of living spaces.
When you think dorm decor, your mind probably jumps to posters, tapestries, string lights, and other hangable decor. But let's take a step back for a minute and figure out what the vibe of your room will be. Are we going for sleek and minimalist, with neutral colors and clean lines? Or maybe the classic college look, with lots of plaid and deep jewel colors? Something feminine? Or something inspired by the outdoors?
In a dorm room, your bed is one of your biggest furniture items, and therefore one of the biggest focal points from a design perspective. Kickstart your dorm decorating efforts by choosing a fun bedding set that fits your style and can serve as the foundation for the rest of your decor.
Dorm decor should look good, but it can be comfy too. As a college student, extra pillows always come in handy. Whether you decide to shake things up and do your next study sesh from the floor or half of the people in your hall end up in your room for an impromptu movie night after class, it never hurts to be prepared.
Once you've defined a basic color scheme with your bedding, you can start building it up with funky throw pillows. They come in pretty much every shape and size imaginable, so get creative! Accent pillows can be a fun (and functional) way to add some color and texture to your dorm decor.
One of the downsides to living in a dorm is that you don't have *complete* creative control of your space. As a general rule, the university housing department probably doesn't look too kindly upon students who rip up their carpet or turn their dorm walls into an art project. Luckily, there are dorm-friendly remedies for those boring blank walls.
If you've spent any time searching social media for dorm decor inspiration, you've probably seen the peel and stick wallpaper trend sweeping the nation -- and with good reason. It's cheap, it's pretty easy to install (just peel + stick!), and it makes a big difference in your decor. Whether you go with a subtle wood grain or marble print to add a little bit of texture to your decor, or you go big and bold with academia-inspired red brick or even chalkboard walls -- peel and stick wallpaper is a great way to make use of the biggest surfaces in your dorm.
Many dorm room floors are resigned to a sad, unstylish fate, doomed to be carpeted with nothing more than fallout from ramen packets and the occasional misplaced paperclip. But not yours. Upgrade that boring dorm floor with a rug, and turn the largest flat surface in your dorm into a key part of your decor.
Plus, dorm room floors can get chilly in the winter months. Spreading out a plush dorm room rug makes getting out of bed each morning just a little bit easier, since it keeps your bare feet off of that frosty vinyl tile.
Can you ever have too many blankets? Nah. Most college students don't have a lot of control over the temperature of their dorm room, so whenever the building staff decides to crank the AC up or cap the temperature in the winter, you're pretty much along for the ride. Having a variety of blankets can make getting comfy in your room way easier.
From a dorm decor perspective, blankets and throws are a good way to incorporate accent colors and shake up your room with some texture. Right now we're loving faux fur and chunky knits -- they'll keep you warm and cozy through late night study sessions, movie marathons, and of course snuggling up for the night after a long day of class.
Let's face it -- those fluorescent overhead lights aren't your best option for pretty much anything. Whether it's putting together the perfect first day of class outfit or burning the midnight oil before a particularly big exam, there are lots of lighting options out there that will work better for ya and be easier on the eyes to boot.
String lights are a dorm room staple because with nothing more than a couple of command hooks you can get a cozy glow into all of the corners and crannies of your dorm room, but they're not the end-all be-all of your dorm lighting options. Opt for a backlit makeup mirror to add a little glam to your pre-class routine or grab a lamp that goes wherever you do to light up your study sessions whether they happena t your desk or from the comfort of your bed.
When you're working with a small space like your college dorm, it helps to choose decor items that are as function as they are fun. That's why we love these armored storage trunks. Choose from a variety of colors and profiles to find a storage solution that keeps your clothes and other belongings safe and secure, while still sticking with the color scheme and overall vibe of your dorm room.
Our personal favorite? The bedside cube trunk. It makes the perfect nightstand for a ground-level bed, or you can easily slide it under a lofted bed for compact but easily accessible storage.
Tapestries are one of the most versatile piece of dorm decor out there. In their most basic form, tapestries are just a piece of fabric with a nice design on it. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, so you can really tailor it to your decorating needs. Cover up some blank wall space, lay one out over your bed instead of a comforter, or use them as a creative way to protect your privacy when you hang them up as a window treatment. The possibilities are endless.
When you think tapestry, you probably think of one with a beautiful mandala design, but there are lots of tapestry options out there ranging from bright and bold to subtle and sophisticated.
Whichever option you choose, you're sure to end up with an awesome addition to your overall dorm decor and the perfect backdrop to take a selfie before heading out with your friends.
Now that we've covered some of the biggest blank spaces in your dorm room, it's time to talk details. There are lots of directions you can go with wall decor in college -- football jerseys and pennants to show your school spirit, posters picked up from the school bookstore. We all loved Uma in Pulp Fiction, and having a larger than life periodic table up on the wall can be a practical choice for some majors, but even the most classic dorm room posters can still leave your dorm decor feeling unfinished.
That's where photos and prints come in. You don't have to be a fine arts major to elevate your room with a couple of framed pieces. In fact, they're an easy way to tie your whole space together. Bring back colors and patterns from other decor items to make the whole room look and feel cohesive, or just opt for something bright, fun, and inspirational to lift your spirits when you look at it. The possibilities are endless!
Wallpaper? Check. Tapestry? Check. Accent pillows and throw blankets? Check and check. With all of the store-bought style handled, it's time for some DIY touches.
Your dorm room is your home base, so it's important to include details that are meaningful to you. Whether that means photos of you and your besties, a calendar to keep track of all your social events, or something else entirely, dorm decor you can personalize is a big part of adding, well... personality to your room!