7 Fresh Dorm Ideas

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY The Havenly Team

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Published on August 9, 2018

Going back to school in the fall is incredibly exciting. Not the least because you likely have a new space to decorate from scratch. Dorm rooms can be challenging, what with cinder block walls and that generic furniture. But, they’re also the perfect blank slate to express your style! We’ve pulled together some of our favorite tips so you can get your room looking perfect, just in time for your first 8am.

A lot of dorm accessories these days come in bright, cheerful colors. That’s well and good, but a dorm is your sanctuary from the hectic life of a student. Try something different by creating a calming space full of neutral texture. Soft bedding, tons of pillows, and cozy lights add plenty of visual interest without creating a wild riot of neon colors. If you’re worried about stains, white linens are actually easier to take care of because you can just pop them in the wash with a bit of bleach. Plus, an all-white look is way easier to coordinate with your roommate!

Storage is definitely a premium in small dorm rooms. Use the area under your bed to store out of season clothing, extra supplies, laundry, and anything else you can fit!  You can store plastic drawers and shoe racks underneath the bed to keep all of your stuff organized. But, it’s nice to keep all of that clutter out of sight. We love the idea of creating a drape or bedskirt to hide the storage. It keeps things out of sight and neat, but still accessible. You can use a shorter curtain panel and tension rods, or even just tuck a piece of pretty fabric under your mattress at the right length.

Your dorm room is where you sleep, but it can also be a great place to hang out with friends. You’ll need space for them to spread out, so consider seating options in your little home! You can create a daybed look with lots of comfortable pillows for your bed, but consider adding extra stools or a small chair to your space for your guests. Extra points for stackable stools and foldable seating options. Don’t forget a soft rug to sprawl out on when you’ve run out of other spots to perch.

You probably have plenty of wall space to fill, but large pieces of art are expensive and hard to hang. Fill up that space with a collection of images and trinkets that matter to you. You can print photos at any drugstore, and use double-stick tape and tacks to hang all those pretty things. We also love using vintage frames or even binder clips as hanging aids for all of your keepsakes! If you pick one wall to decorate, it becomes a great focal point to build on throughout the year.

Add a bohemian vibe to any dorm by skipping the mass-market plastic pieces and picking up some unique vintage finds from your local thrift store. You can get some great value, and can totally reimagine them for your space. Turn a dresser into a storage-centric tv stand, use a bookshelf on top of your desk as a hutch, or find a pretty coffee table to pair with your futon. Vintage furniture adds a little more personality to any space, and definitely feesl more permanent than plastic furniture.

Creating a homey feel is paramount for any new dorm dweller. Don’t forget the details: curtains and lighting make a huge difference. You can hang a light rod above any window using command hooks, and even just a simple set of sheers makes your windows feel much larger and finished. Don’t forget task lighting, too. It will distract from those hideous fluorescent overheads. A pretty desk lamp and a floor lamp or two will create a warm, cozy glow.

Ultimately, you’re going to spend a lot of time in your bed. Sleeping, studying, and hanging out all occur in the same place in a dorm. So, focus on your bedding first and you’ll start out feeling right at home. Invest in soft sheets, a pretty duvet, and maybe a fluffy throw blanket. Throw pillows can help prop up your back for long study sessions and distract from cold cinder block walls. Try mixing and matching patterns for an eclectic look!


Need help picking the perfect dorm-room piece? Chat with a designer for free. 

Words by Kate Connors