The CollegeCandy Guide to Dorm Decor

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It’s almost time to move to campus – away from parents, rules, younger siblings – and into the most drab room ever?

Yeah, dorm rooms aren’t really known for their architecture or beauty. More likely, they’re small cells with white walls and hideous flooring. So how can you take that space and make it all your own…without sacrificing your security deposit? It’s way easier than you think.

Adding a little pizazz to an otherwise boring space doesn’t take much. And thanks to all the advancements in “temporary” decorating, you can give that cell a total makeover and have the coolest room on campus. (And this goes for all you upperclassmen out there, too!)

Goodbye juvenile poster collages and hello chic sophistication!

The Walls. While you could be like everyone else and put up a cliche college poster there are so many new innovations in decor that won’t put you at risk of losing your damage deposit. Wall decals and removable wall paper are an easy way to instantly add some excitement to your room.  If you’re up to a challenge, you could also try to starch fabric to your wall.  Looking for a one-of-a-kind wall decals that stand out? Check out Etsy!

Hooks and Hangers. Want to hang frames on your wall without using a hammer and nails?  3M makes a variety of adhesive products that won’t wreck your walls, from picture hangers to decorative hooks.  Use the picture hangers to put up frames, and the hooks to hang your accessories up!  Over-the-door hooks are good for towels and coats – just make sure you can close the door when it’s on.

The Windows.  If you’re lucky your dorm room will have a big window to let the light in, because natural sunlight trumps artificial fluorescent light any day.  However, I’m sure you won’t feel the same when the sun is waking you up before noon after a night of showing off your beer pong skills. Want to put up a curtain?  Since you obviously can’t drill into the wall, tension rods are your solution.  Just adjust to the size of your window, slide on some colorful, light-blocking curtains and put in place. (Target, Walmart and Ikea have cute ones for super cheap!)

Desk – A lamp and your computer are the basics for your college desk.  Add a printer, various chargers, speakers, etc., and you’ve got A LOT of cords on your hands.  Get a Cordie to help keep it all in check.

Need help with your time management or want a place to write yourself notes?  Wall-Pops dry erase boards are cute, adhesive and won’t damage your wall. Score.

Bed – If you’re living in a small dorm room, chances are your bed will be your biggest seating space.  I suggest buying a duvet with a cover that can be removed instead of one of those bed-in-a-bag packages.  They are easy to wash if someone spills on your bed, and fairly inexpensive if you get bored with your bedding.  (I’m LOVING the ones from Ikea – they are bright and colorful.)  Then add lots of pillows; they are fun ways to accessorize your bed, but also make your bed feel more like a couch if you’re watching TV.  If you like to read in bed, Bed Rest pillows offer good support.

Storage – As most dorm rooms are on the small side, maximizing your storage space is essential. Especially for all those clothes and shoes. Dorm Buys has lots of storage solutions, from bed risers to over-the-door shoe storage.  Look for cute, colorful storage boxes to add some color or patterns to your room.

For even more inspiration check out Casey Lewis of‘s book on dorm living and decorDorm Room Delicious, Style at Home and our ladies at College Fashion all have additional tips for decking out your residence as well.



    1. Lisa says:

      I have to say that the bedside organizer (in the last photo) is a MUST-HAVE. It's so handy.

    2. Jenna says:

      Everything on this list is a definite must-have for me (except for over-door organizers; I got to college and was frustrated to find that the dorm doors were too thick for them).

      I would also add:

      – A fan (no air conditioning in dorms)

      – Plastic storage drawers of all shapes and sizes

      – A shower caddy to tote your stuff to the bathroom and back

      – Push lights or a flashlight, in case your school is like mine, and the power goes out sometimes

    3. Linda says:

      Great article!

      Oh god, Jenna, where do you go to school that there is no A.C ?

      I would die (literally, lol) in the GA heat if that happened to us.

    4. […] Since college is creeping around the corner, time to pimp out your dorm room so you can show it off to all of those drunkie boys you will be showing it to. At 2 am. Don’t […]

    5. Victoria says:

      Lol, Linda just read your comment… Although I live in Canada it still gets HOT september, april may and of course the summer if you are in school.. predominantly most of the schools I know of have no A/C.. of course they jack up student fees but don' t give us anything worthwhile lol

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    13. Decor 2 Ur Door says:

      Great article. Most important in dorm decoating is to surround yourself with the things you love- memories, colors,

      ….have fun with it! Express your unique personality.

      Make it personal with wall art monograms, sayings etc…


    14. Stéphanie says:

      Thank you for these tips.. I bought some exciting decors on They propose a lot of fun wall decals, not the same you find on other wall decals web store.

      Also, I love these Doors trompe l'oeil I will buy soon :

    15. […] yourself tuesdays, dorm room decorating, interior decorating, reunion, wall war When it comes to interior decorating, I am all about making the living space feel as comfortable and homey as possible. Despite my love […]

    16. Kjk says:

      I LOVE the wall art you picked out- decals are a great idea. Something else you can do for walls is to create a design out of uncommon objects. I've used thin rope and cloth to create a rope and roses design- it looks so cute and all you need is small 3/4" nails.… gives pictures of the decoration and a how-to!:)

    17. songsurf says:

      Want great dorm ideas? Check out this awesome article with many suggestions that both save space and are affordable:

    18. […] Leah, from Ryerson University, provides her tips on how to spice up and organize your space. Check out her tips on  College Candy  […]

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