Post Category: Back to School

46 Dorm Room Ideas To Make Your Space Yours


Setting up your dorm room is simultaneously one of the most overwhelming and exciting parts of moving to college. For most of us, it’s our first chance to live on our own (or at least without our parents since most of us will have roommates), and for others, it’s a chance to reinvent ourselves as someone new. We’ve assembled 46 awesome dorm room ideas so you can start your time at college on the right foot.

Since 2006, Redbubble has connected over 700,000 artists and designers with people like you seeking to express themselves through posters, stickers, and more. We know self-expression is key to your happiness, so we know how to help you make your dull, bland dorm room your own, just like your outfits. Follow our ideas for dorm room decor below and you’ll have the freshest dorm room on campus.

Rose gold and blush pink comforter on a double bed

Geometric Compilation in Rose Gold and Blush Pink Comforter designed and sold by UrbanEpiphany

1. Express yourself with unique bedding

It may be tempting to go with cheap bedding since you’ll only need it for a year or two before you move into an apartment with a standard bed size. However, prioritizing comfort over cost for bedding is always a great idea, especially when you consider you’ll spend the equivalent of 121 days a year asleep in your bed. 

Splurge on soft sheets, and purchase a duvet or comforter that screams comfort. Both duvets and comforters will keep you warm and cozy, but duvets are easier to wash in regular washing machines since the duvet insert can be removed. 

2. Create a photo wall

Go through your photo reel on your phone and pick some of your favorite photos to print at your local pharmacy. Once you have your room arranged the way you want it, create a photo wall by hanging your pictures in cheap frames or use sticky tack to hang them directly on the wall, so all your favorite memories are close at hand to cheer you up when you’re feeling homesick. 

Blue throw pillow with the text "okay-ish vibes" and a neutral smiley face on a heart sits on a gray couch

Okayish Vibes Throw Pillow designed and sold by Awesomesauce-ST

3. Pile up throw pillows

Due to the cramped space of most dorm rooms, your bed has many duties beyond a place to sleep. It also serves as your dining room table, couch, and hangout spot. Throw pillows can help make it more comfortable whether you’re using them to study or entertaining friends. Perfect for leaning against the wall to help you have better posture while sitting on your bed.

Throw pillows can complement your existing design scheme or function as statement pieces. Don’t be afraid to incorporate inspirational quotes, humor, or bold patterns using throw pillows. Just make sure you get pillows with washable covers in case you accidentally spill some Easy Mac or coffee on them during a late-night hangout.

4. Add some greenery

Dorm rooms can be dreary places: old linoleum tile, cinder block walls painted a bland beige, fluorescent lights, and small windows don’t scream “comfy hangout.” 

Incorporating some plants into your space adds bright spots of color and also many health benefits. Plants are known to improve air quality (a must for poorly ventilated dorm rooms), boost your mental health, and enhance sleep quality. The best part is that you don’t have to get too fancy with your plants. Even a small mug herb garden on your windowsill can positively affect your mental health.

Pink tapestry with the text "stay cool" hangs on a wall above a couch

Stay Cool Tapestry designed and sold by souloff

5. Use tapestries to warm up the room

We totally understand wanting to cover up those disgusting cinder block walls. Unfortunately, your options are limited since you can’t repaint or wallpaper as a temporary occupant. If you’re looking for a great way to cover a large percentage of your wall, opt for a tapestry.

When hung correctly, tapestries can make a statement just like wallpaper, and if you hang them on outdoor-facing walls, they can also help insulate your space. Plus, they cover more wall area than a photo collage or posters. The options for decorating with tapestries are endless!

6. Ditch the fluorescent overhead light

Overhead fluorescent lights are popular in dorm rooms because they are cheaper to install and maintain than other lighting options. Unfortunately, they aren’t environmentally friendly and cause adverse health effects like headaches and increased anxiety.

Instead, purchase floor and desk lamps to provide softer light that is better for your mental health. Because dorm rooms may lack sufficient outlets, don’t forget to pick up a few multi-outlets for all your lamps!

Motivational poster with the text "Today is going to be amazing" on a black background hanging above a desk

Today Is Going to Be Amazing! {Black Version} Poster designed and sold by TheLoveShop

7. Hype yourself up with motivational posters

College is challenging on so many levels: you’re pushed outside your comfort zone daily, professors give impossible exams, and you have to share a bathroom with strangers. Make it a little easier with some motivational posters (but not the lame ones your high school guidance counselor had hung up in their office).

Pick a design or two that speaks to you, and hang them up where you’ll see them every day, like over your desk. Positive affirmations also make a great motivational tool and fit perfectly on your desk.

8. Decorate your door

Work with your roommate to decorate your door so the people in your hallway better understand who you are. Add photos of you and your roommate, use stickers to add a punch of personality, and hang a dry-erase board so people can leave you messages.

Get the entire floor on board by challenging them to themed door decorating contests around holidays like Halloween to make the hallway feel more festive.

Throw blanket with a retro-inspired sunflower and mum pattern draped over a brown couch

Sunflowers and Mums Throw Blanket designed and sold by Jacqueline Hurd

9. Cozy up your space with a throw blanket (or two)

Odds are good your dorm room will have a temperature problem, so you’ll want a throw blanket or two handy for whenever it gets chilly. Keep one folded at the end of your bed or over the back of your desk chair. It can even double as a seat cushion when it’s folded up.

Consider having multiple sizes available so you’re ready whether you need to add another blanket to your bed or just need to cover your legs while you’re at your desk. Like throw pillows, throw blankets are a great opportunity to go a little wild with a statement piece. 

10. Use storage ottomans for storage and extra seating

If there’s one thing dorm rooms lack, it’s space, which means you need furniture that does double duty. Purchase a few small storage ottomans and toss your shoes, gloves, hats, scarves, and other accessories inside them. They also make great seats for guests when you have company for a midnight movie marathon.

Silver water bottle with a pastel sticker of a floppy desk with the words "save me" on the label

Floppy Disk Sticker designed and sold by samscissorhart

11. Decorate your electronics 

Your electronics are more than just necessities for modern life; they’re also a blank canvas begging for you to express yourself. Slap a few quirky or pop culture stickers on your laptop and other electronics (or anywhere else), or invest in a laptop sleeve or skin. Plus, they’ll help you quickly identify your property if your roommate has the same laptop model as you. Phone cases are also a must to protect your lifeline from the rest of the world.

12. Increase your desk space with a desk hutch

The standard dorm room desk is pretty basic: a flat surface and a drawer or two. Take advantage of unused vertical space and add a desk hutch to make your desk more functional. There you can store your textbooks and display artwork and other knick-knacks.

Mounted print with the words "don't believe everything you think" on a red background hanging over a wooden end table

Don’t Believe Everything You Think Mounted Print designed and sold by Rob Price

13. Elevate your wall decor with mounted prints

Every college student decorates their walls with personal photos and band posters. Instead, make your room stand out with mounted prints. These special prints have a sturdier backing than regular photos and posters, making them more durable. Plus, you won’t have to worry about your artwork rolling and peeling off the wall if your space is humid, which dorm rooms tend to be from poor air circulation.

14. Prop up a floor-length mirror in the corner

Make your dorm room seem bigger and brighter by propping an oversized floor-length mirror in a corner opposite your window. You’ll get a statement decor piece, a dedicated place to get ready, and the light from the window will bounce off the mirror to other parts of the room, making the space appear brighter. For added drama, line your mirror with fairy lights and place a few stickers or photos on the edges.

Magnet of a Windows pop-up menu with the text "Are you loved?" and a yes button

Are Your Loved? Magnet designed and sold by samscissorhart

15. Spice up the fridge with magnets

In your dorm room, every space is a blank canvas for self-expression. While it may be tempting to use stickers to decorate your fridge, they can leave a sticky residue, so magnets are a better option. Plus, you can use them to hold up important info for you and your roommate, like messages, shopping lists, or the dining hall schedule.

16. Upgrade your bed with a DIY headboard

Upgrade your bed with a DIY headboard that perfectly matches your style. Many great tutorials exist on the internet, and once you have your bed’s measurements, you can easily throw something together before you move into your dorm. You’ll be amazed at how much homier your dorm looks just from adding a headboard!

Art board print with the word "resist" in blue on a flowered and blue background

Resist Floral Lettering Art Board Print designed and sold by Kit Cronk

17. Lean art board prints on shelves

The walls aren’t the only place to showcase artwork. Add depth to hanging shelves or a desk hutch by leaning art board prints on them. Buy a handful that you can easily switch out depending on the season or your mood.

18. Warm up your floor with an area rug

Area rugs are a great way to warm up a room, plus they’ll cover that hideous linoleum floor college dorm designers seem to love. You can stick with the industrial carpet remnant many college students opt for or splurge on more of a statement piece. Whatever you choose, check the care instructions so you can keep it clean, and invest in a bottle of Febreeze to keep it smelling fresh.

Colorful shower curtain with a heart in the middle and blocks of color

Warm Heart Shower Curtain designed and sold by Gigi Rosado

19. Upgrade your shower curtain

Some dorms require you to share a bathroom with an entire floor, while others provide you and your suitemates with a private bathroom. If it’s just you and your roommates, upgrade your shower curtain from the flimsy gross option your college provides to something more fun. And please, don’t forget to clean it regularly!

20. Bring a keepsake or two from home

You can’t bring your entire bedroom from home with you, but there’s no rule against bringing a meaningful keepsake to college. For some people, that’s a stuffed animal; for others, it’s a photo; for still others, it’s a special knick-knack from a trip. Whatever it is, don’t hide it away in your new home. Set it on your desk or nightstand where you’ll see it whenever you need a little pick-me-up.

Orange coasters with a pink daisy with a happy face in the middle

Happy Flower by Suzie London Coasters (Set of 4) designed and sold by SuzieLondon

21. Protect your furniture with coasters

Just because you didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of your dorm furniture with kitschy or fabulous coasters. Plus, you won’t have to worry about accidentally putting that $100 textbook in a ring of condensation left by your iced coffee.

22. Hang wall organizers to keep jewelry organized

Jewelry, especially necklaces and bracelets, can easily get tangled when thrown in a drawer, but you need all the flat spaces you have for a workspace. Keep all your jewelry tangle-free by using a hanging jewelry organizer and hanging it on the inside door of your closet or the closet wall. If your jewelry isn’t valuable, you could also hang it on the wall in your room, where it can function as a colorful decor statement.

Photographic print of a green mountain against a blue sky with pink clouds hanging above a bed

The Heavenly Expanse Photographic Print designed and sold by Brandt Campbell

23. Create a collage with photographic prints

If you aren’t into taking pictures or prefer to keep them private and not hang them on the wall for everyone to see, create a collage with photographic prints. Pick whatever catches your eye and arrange them in a visually pleasing way, or opt for photographic prints that all fit into a specific aesthetic. 

24. Line your shelves and drawers with contact paper

For your sanity, we suggest you don’t think about how many people had called your dorm room home before you arrived. Instead, hide all the gross mysterious stains on shelves and in drawers with removable contact paper. Out of sight, out of mind!

Black zipper pouch with the text "Bad vibes only"

Bad Vibes Only Zipper Pouch designed and sold by Awfully Adorable

25. Keep your makeup in one place

At home, you may be able to leave all your makeup brushes and products out on your bathroom counter, but in a dorm room, you just won’t have the space, especially if you have roommates. Instead, keep everything organized in a makeup zipper bag you can easily carry to the bathroom. Get one that speaks to your personality so no one accidentally claims it.

26. Set up a charging station

Outlets may be hard to find in a dorm room, especially in an older building. Grab a surge protector strip, plug in all your device chargers, and run them to your desk or end table. Use cable organizers to keep everything neat and tidy.

Backpack with a brightly colored check pattern

Long Blocks Colourful Geometric Check Pattern in Rainbow Pop Colors Backpack designed and sold by kierkegaard

27. Hang up your backpack

When you aren’t using it, hang your backpack up using a heavy-duty hook. This will keep your floor clear, and if your backpack is a unique statement piece, it can function as a piece of decor. Don’t forget to take out your textbooks and devices before you hang it up, as they can make your backpack too heavy for the hook.

28. Highlight your hobbies

Whatever your hobbies are, find a way to highlight them as part of your decor instead of hiding them in your closet. If you play the guitar, hang it up when you aren’t using it or prop it up in a corner. If you knit, put a basket with your yarn and knitting needles in the corner. Having your hobbies at hand speaks to your personality and gives your space a homey vibe.

Mouse pad with a cartoon person in a graduation cap thanking their student loans because they'll never be able to repay them

Student Loans Mouse Pad designed and sold by cheezup

29. Dress up your desk with mouse pads or desk mats

Dress up your desk with more than just knick-knacks and photo frames. Make the space your own with a snarky mouse pad or punny desk mat. After all, you’ll need a bit of distraction while studying!

30. Hang curtains for a homey feel

Dorm windows are notoriously drafty, but hanging curtains can help insulate your room from drafts. While you may not be able to use a regular curtain rod since you can’t drill into the wall, you can get creative with hooks and string. Plus, the curtains will give your room a homey feel, especially if your blinds are those industrial slats that always break whenever you so much as sneeze in the general vicinity of your window.

White coffee mug with the text "be kind of weird" in pastel letters on a pink background

Be Kind of Weird Coffee Mug designed and sold by Tamara Lance

31. Decorate with mugs

Coffee makes up 50% of a college student’s bloodstream, especially during finals, but your coffee mugs aren’t just for refueling. They also make great decor. Put a coffee mug on your desk to hold your writing utensils and another on the window sill with a succulent. Keep makeup brushes in them on your vanity, or store spare change for parking in an old mug.

32. Customize your closet

Dorm room closets are tiny, but that doesn’t mean they’re dysfunctional. You just have to know how to use the space more effectively. Invest in closet storage options like shoe racks, stackable baskets, and multi-hangers to make the most of your closet. Store things you don’t use every day in under-the-bed storage bins.

A maroon acrylic block with aliens, unicorns, and other creatures and the text "my imaginary friends think I'm cool"

My Imaginary Friends Acrylic Block designed and sold by Steven Rhodes

33. Use acrylic blocks as bookends and paperweights

Acrylic blocks are clear plexiglass with a back-mounted print, allowing them to stand independently. They are great art pieces on their own, but they can also double as bookends or paperweights depending on your needs. (Trust me, if your dorm doesn’t have air conditioning, you’ll always be running fans, and you’ll want to keep your notes organized!)

34. Use vertical space effectively

Floor space is limited in a dorm room, so use your vertical space. Hang shelves on the walls where you can, but make sure not to overload them so they don’t get ripped off the wall with your heavy textbooks. Use over-the-door towel and shoe racks, and add a few hanging baskets to store accessories and essentials like keys and your ID so they aren’t cluttering up countertop space.

A black clock with the text "good vibes" in a retro font

Good Vibes Rainbow Colors Clock designed and sold by souloff

35. Hang up a clock

If the power goes out or your cell phone isn’t charged, you’ll still need to know what time it is, so hang up a fun clock above your door. Plus, with so many Zoomers unable to read an analog clock, it’ll give you a weird flex with new friends.

36. String fairy lights around the room

Give your room some ambiance by stringing fairy lights around the room. Just check your building’s rulebook before you hang them up since some older buildings don’t allow fairy lights due to fire hazards. 

Postcard with a dog wearing roller blades and the text "not the best but havin fun"

Not the Best But… Postcard designed and sold by GraceGogarty

37. Decorate with postcards

While your grandparents enjoyed sending postcards from their travels, today’s generation uses them more as decor. Build a nightstand and then decoupage the top with postcards, or create a postcard collage on your wall. You can even tack them on a bulletin board or tuck them in the corner of a full-length mirror for a touch of color.

38. Make a t-shirt quilt

Take all your favorite t-shirts from your childhood (think concert tees and school events or sports team tees) and have them turned into a t-shirt quilt. Whenever you’re having a bad day, wrap yourself in your quilt with all your favorite memories and listen to your favorite songs. You’ll feel better in no time!

Black tote bag with an illustration of a space angel

Space Angel Tote Bag designed and sold by Nana Naexii

39. Showcase your accessories

Scarves, tote bags, drawstring bags, and other accessories don’t have to hide in your closet or under your bed. Instead, hang them up using hooks so you can easily see your options in the morning. They’ll add pops of color to your space and keep your storage areas clear for other items that can’t be easily hung on the wall.

40. Create a dedicated study space

Create a dedicated study space as best you can in your limited space. Set aside an area of the room, like your desk, where you will only study. This will train your brain to focus on learning when in this particular area. Keep everything you need for studying in that space and try to limit distractions. Under a lofted bed makes the best study space, especially if you can find a way to block your view to either side. 

White zipper pouch with a retro television set with the colorful no signal message

I Changed the Channel and Everything Went Gay Zipper Pouch  designed and sold by Amanda Iglesias

41. Store items in zipper bags

You’ll frequently be moving from space to space while you live in the dorms, so try to keep items you use in specific areas together in bright zipper bags that can hide your clutter. For example, put all your beauty supplies in one toiletry bag, and put all your writing utensils in a pencil pouch.

42. Hang up bulletin boards for flexible decor 

Over your desk or near your bed, hang up a bulletin board. Then you can use pins and thumbtacks to hang up pictures, notes, reminders, ticket stubs, etc., that you want to change frequently. This will minimize damage to your walls, which you may be charged for at the end of the school year.

Poster of a magic train in space with a witch and an alien

Witch Train Poster designed and sold by Charles Dalmau

43. Add pizzazz to your walls with posters

Nothing says “college” like hanging up posters on the walls. Focus on posters that express your personality in some way to make the room seem more than just the temporary place you’ll live in for a year.

44. Prioritize natural light

Open your blinds to let sunlight stream into your dorm room whenever you can. While it can be tempting to retreat into a cave of your own making, natural light is better for you. 

It is more environmentally friendly than electric lights and positively impacts our Circadian rhythms (meaning we sleep better), moods, and hormone production. It also increases brain activity like cognition and focus, which we could all use a boost in, especially during finals. 

Turquoise hardcover notebook with green frog faces

Froggy Cloud Hardcover Journal designed and sold by Keiko Nabila Yamazaki

45. Decorate your bookshelves with colorful hardcover journals

While most spiral-bound notebooks are being replaced with laptops and tablets for note-taking, you’ll always need a place to write down your thoughts on paper. Use colorful hardcover journals and stack them on the corner of your desk for an interesting design feature. Have several different types of notebooks on hand so you’re prepared for every writing situation.

Turquoise floor pillow with the text "DANCE"

DANCE | Hand Lettered Text Floor Pillow designed and sold by KooKooRuz

46. Invest in some floor pillows

It’s not unusual to find a dorm room jam-packed with people for impromptu study sessions and weekend television binging. Floor pillows are the perfect way to make sure everyone is comfortable. 

When you don’t have company, they can be tossed on your bed, couch, or desk chair to create a cozy vibe. As people start showing up, simply throw them on the floor for comfortable seating.

White laptop skin with a sweating smiley face and the text "Under pressure send help"

Under Pressure Laptop Skin designed and sold by sobsannix

Tips for Designing the Best Dorm Room Ever

While it can be tempting to start shopping and decorating the moment you get your dorm assignment, that can lead to problems. For one thing, you’re probably living with someone, which means you both need to be on the same page if you’re going to spend a year in a cramped space harmoniously. For another, you may end up over or under buying decor items and furniture, which can leave you in a lurch. 

So before you jump in with both feet, take the following steps.

Step One: Determine your aesthetic

Before you do any decorating, take some time to think about what aesthetic you like. Knowing that information will help you determine everything from your color palette to accessories.

Step Two: Talk with your roomie

If you have roommates, it’s best to talk to them before going on an online shopping spree. Schedule a coffee date in person or virtually to talk about the vibe you want your room to have. Dorm rooms tend to be small, but they can appear bigger if your aesthetics match. 

That said, if you can’t agree on a design aesthetic, it’s acceptable for both of you to express yourselves in your half of the space, although it may make your room feel overly busy.

Step Three: Choose a layout

Dorm rooms haven’t changed much over the years, which means they have the same basic wood furniture: a small desk and an extra-long twin bed. If you’re lucky, the college will toss in a mini fridge. Once you’ve arrived at your dorm, work with your roommates to devise a layout that works best for all of you. 

The biggest layout decision will inevitably involve what you decide to do with your beds. Most dorms have beds that you can bunk, loft, or separate. 

  • Bunking is the classic dorm room configuration, and while it seems the epitome of cool when you’re ten, it isn’t as elegant when you’re living on your own.
  • Lofting saves the most space and allows you to create a private study space under the bed frame.
  • Separating the beds takes up more space, but it helps you and your roommate create distinct areas within the room.

Once you’ve addressed these fundamental issues, it’s time to start decorating!

Throw pillow with a retro burgundy flower checkerboard print

Burgundy Flower Checkerboard Throw Pillow designed and sold by CaseyCara

Just because your dorm room is only yours temporarily doesn’t mean you can’t make it your own while you live there. Our dorm room ideas will help you create a little oasis amid all the college chaos. 

Don’t forget to pack everything you need and keep your backpack organized this year. Check out our Back to School Collection for more designs perfect for decorating your dorm room.

Featured Image: Glam // Neon Pink Led Typographic Quote designed and sold by pulpixel

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