College Dorm Room Decorating Tips

by Emma W.R. on August 24, 2016

My daughter is finally off to college this fall. I’m freaking out. She is so excited to have her own space and I am happy to help her make useful furniture choices. She has to realize whatever moves in, has to move back out again. Things should be practical but also keep her individual style in mind. This stuff needs to last multiple moves. Here are a few items to make her happy but also keeping things organized and stylish.


Ikea is your friend. They have great furniture for small spaces at an affordable price. You don’t need to go nuts but a few key pieces can change up the feel of a boring dorm room.


  • Stackable storage bins are great for hiding clutter underneath beds and stacking for additional shelving.
  • Bed Risers are a genius way to give your bed that extra space. Store items you may not use every day so they are tucked neatly away.


  • A multiple layer rolling cart can be converted into a bed side table for personal storage and style.
  • Add some plants to brighten up that boring and dull room. Set on the windowsill or hang in a corner where they will get plenty of sunlight.
  • Express your own individuality with wall hangings, picture frames and unique bedding. Toss pillows are easy for a pop of color.
  • Patterned duct tape is an easy way to frame out a picture without putting holes in the wall.


  • If you have a small space, the answer is to go up. Floating shelves above your desk add room for all of your school books, boxes and even knick knacks.
  • Choose lighting that has character and illuminates your area like a desk lamp. Change to hanging lights for a soft glow at night.
  • Use clipboards, pin boards or a dry erase board to keep track of your busy schedule.
  • Keep aside a few folding chairs for easy seating for company. This eliminates friends laying all over your bed.


  • Colorful curtains add a feminine touch while blocking out the light on days you get to sleep in.
  • Throw down an area rug to warm up your feet on colder nights and add warmth to your room.
  • Bookcases are not only for books. Arrange shoes and accessories for a display and organized glam area.
  • Try making a DIY headboard. Cut out the shape you want on cardboard and cover with a fun fabric. This will be easy to move and is easy to change out if you grow tired of the design.
  • Have fun and express yourself in your own style. Be the nerd, trend setter or classic girl that you are.
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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah May 8, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Making the room cozy makes it feel like home.. I encouraged my daughter to bring some key items from her bedroom at home and utilize them in her dorm room.


Rebecca March 24, 2017 at 11:16 am

The pictures in this article look amazing. I have sons who are both at different colleges. Their dorm rooms do NOT look anything like this!


Dom February 13, 2017 at 3:42 pm

So many good ideas here! Not sure how practical the cardboard headboard is, but other than that this was a super helpful article.


Dorothy January 10, 2017 at 10:25 am

My college dorm never looked even close to as nice as those dorms. Concrete walls more like a prison and we could hardly hang anything up bc of it.


Carol October 12, 2016 at 8:24 am

Themed rooms are a popular approach to making tiny dorm rooms lively. Communicate with your roommate and get them involved in the decorating.


Ralph October 11, 2016 at 2:07 pm

I remember in college my footlocker was my best friend. A place to store stuff out of sight which doubles as a shelf/table in a pinch. Great ideas!


Mina September 29, 2016 at 10:05 am

Wow! These are some really good ideas! The floating bookshelf really saves a lot of floor space from the traditional bookshelves. I also love the idea of adding all those fun accessories to a regular bookcase, like that pretty tray to hold all my perfumes. That rolling cart is also a great idea because you have multiple rows to store plenty of items! Some of these ideas can definitely be extended for use in regular home decor.


Solomon Victor September 29, 2016 at 8:20 am

Space is limited in a dorm room, so choose to go vertical for your storage needs.


Susan Martinez September 28, 2016 at 4:41 pm

You can find a lot of great decorating ideas from different websites. It’s a real challenge when your working with a small amount of dorm space. Just remember not to over pack and make sensible decisions on what your going to really need. Shelving and crates are good for storing.


Doris Fields September 23, 2016 at 9:50 am

Getting ready to dorm is a really happy experience. You have to remember that the rooms are quite small and sometimes your sharing a room with 2 or even 3 others. When your packing, remember you may only have a little bit of storing space so put a lot of thought into what your bringing. Curtains make the room look colorful and shelving on the walls is a great idea for storing fun stuff.


Nelli September 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Storage storage storage! Everything in a dorm room should serve more than one purpose.


Candy September 1, 2016 at 9:46 am

I bought a lot for my daughter at the dollar store and Target. Get frugal and crafty. You don’t want to spend too much on a dorm room, but you want your kids to feel at home away from home.


Paula J. August 30, 2016 at 3:04 pm

I love your ideas! Especially the patterned duct as a way to frame pictures. I have one son in college now, but when he was younger he made wallets and all sorts of useful items out of duct tape. I can’t wait to tell him.


Kaya August 30, 2016 at 1:16 pm

I love the idea of converting a multiple layer rolling cart into a bed side table for personal storage. It brings a fun, creative flair to decorating, while still providing the extra space needed in the tight quarters of a dorm room. Overall awesome tips!


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