This post contains affiliate links, which help to keep Dani Dearest running. Learn more about these links hereA MUST-HAVE for all college students: The Complete Guide to Decorating a Dorm RoomStarting college comes with many exciting things: a new school, new town, new people, new classes, new clubs, new teams, and… a new room.

Moving into my first dorm room was by far the thing I was the most excited about when starting college. 4 years and 4 dorm rooms later, I’m still obsessed with dorm decor and all the amazing and creative ways that people decorate their spaces!

After gathering inspiration, pictures, links, and ideas from other college students and college bloggers around the web I am proud to present to you the complete guide to decorating a dorm room!

Read on for inspiration, beautiful pictures, and links to purchase wonderful dorm decor items. Each dorm room picture is linked to the blogger who’s room it is (and who generously donated it to this guide) so please click on the photos for more info/inspiration from those bloggers.

One last thing – there are some links to products in this guide to help you decorate your own dorm room. These links are affiliate links, which means that when you click on them or purchase from them I will get a little bit of money – but it won’t cost you anything to click on, and won’t increase the price if you purchase from it at all. Just wanted to let you know!

Ready to decorate your own dorm? Read on!

1. Color Scheme

Often the first step of decorating a dorm room or small apartment is choosing a color scheme or a room theme. Having a cohesive look throughout the space can really work wonders for opening it up to make it look bigger (tiny dorm room problems).

2. Curtains


Curtains are the perfect way to add a pop of color and a bit of comfort to any room. Dorm rooms are often stark, bare, and boring. Curtains clean up and add a smart accent to every room easily.

Pro tip: Does the sunrise in the morning wake you up too early? Live in a big city with streetlights through your windows at all hours? Get black out curtains! I’m a really light sleeper (pun intended) and any sort of light while I’m trying to get to sleep will keep me up all night. Black out curtains have been a life saver.

3. Flooring

living room

Whether your dorm room is carpeted or not (sometimes you’re stuck with gross old linoleum.. ugh!) adding a rug is a great way to dress it up and add some comfort under your bare little toes. Also works really well to add an accent color or pattern to the space.

4. Bedding

Pillows that pop with personality and colors that coordinate will be your key to create a cohesive look throughout your bedroom. (Try saying that 3 times fast!)

Pro tip: Love your color scheme, but feel like it’s a little crowded and busy? Opt for a plain comforter instead of a patterned one to tone it down and make the look tie together smoothly.

RELATED: Listen to this episode of my podcast, The Quarter Life Crisis Club, on moving out on your own!

5. Lighting

full room

Stuck with old dorm room florescent ceiling lighting? Make your space feel more welcome, cozy, and personal with some unique lighting.

Personally, string lights are my favorite – but desk lamps and floor lamps are a great touch as well!

6. Workspace

DSC_0611 (1)

Possibly my favorite part of a dorm room – the desk.

Make your desk uniquely yours by adding things such as bulletin boards, desk organizers for pens and notebooks, calendars, a cute mouse pad, some fake flowers (those really brighten up a room!), or jars of things you collect like nail polishes or washi tape. Get creative!

7. Touches of Personality

Make the room your own and display who you are proudly. From setting up vases of fake flowers (my favorite!) to your sea shell collection in mason jars, add your own touches.

Pro tip: My favorite way to do this? Washi tape! Put it on the walls, on your door, or use it to line the edge of your dorm regulated furniture to add a pop of color and creativity to any space.

8. Photos


Another way to add a touch of personality to a room is through photos. Photos of your loved ones, favorite memories, and places you like are a essential in any bedroom. Get creative! Make collages, get cute frames, use washi tape to create fake frames on the walls, pin all over bulletin boards.. make it your own.

9. Organization

In such a small space, organization is definitely key. Cubbies, drawers, trays, boxes, bags, hanging closet organizers, etc. Making sure you have some good organizational systems in place will help to keep your room clean, which will open it up more and will diffuse any roommate quarrels over a messy room 😉

10. Wall Decor

Wall decor totally ties a room together and is great for brightening up and personalizing a drab and plain dorm. Here are some ideas:






Gallery Wall

Bulletin Boards


More Inspiration

Looking for more dorm room ideas? I have a Pinterest board just for that! Follow this board for a ton of beautiful dorm decor pictures:


Best of luck on your dorm decorating adventures!

What is your “must-have” for dorm decor?



The Complete Guide to Decorating a Dorm Room

3 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Decorating a Dorm Room

  • August 10, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I love how in depth this was, and all the different things you had linked for each category. Know I want to buy even more lights for my room. Haha and thanks for using my picture!! Glad I could contribute!

  • August 17, 2017 at 11:32 pm

    Hello Dani, this dorm room is looking awesome. I love your decorating tips. It looks so beautiful. I am fond of decorate the room. You have described all the points for decoration of room. Thanks for this post.

  • September 3, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Pretty rooms and good ideas. I like that you used a variety of real rooms instead of stock photos. It seems achievable with examples. Thanks.


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