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Chic and Functional Dorm Room Decor

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestChic and Functional Dorm Room Decor

Your dorm room is a reflection of who you are and what you’re all about. At the same time, it has to operate practically as your personal home away from home.

Whether you're looking for funky and fun, or clean and classic, there is a myriad of decorating options out there. With these swanky and functional dorm room decorating ideas, you can make your area look stylish and keep everything neatly organized. From dorm room gadgets to organizing tips and tricks, we’ve got what you need to know.


Include multi-purpose furniture

Share to PinterestHappy young woman relaxing at home in beanbag
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Since many dorm inhabitants face limited space, it is important to find furniture and decor that is compact and multi-purpose. A coffee table with drawers can double as a place to do homework or read at night. Non-traditional pieces of furniture such as ottomans and bean bags can replace chairs for studying or watching television with friends.


Create a personalized collage wall

Decide on a theme for your collage and collect images that represent it. For example, if you want to build a collage that portrays your life goals, gather images of yourself with friends and family members at home or in the community. Got wanderlust? Consider hanging lots of pictures of places you've traveled and the places you plan to go in the future.


Add unique lighting

Hanging string, LED, or twinkle lights can brighten up your dorm room and set the tone. String lights are terrific for creating a jovial atmosphere for parties or just hanging out with friends. LEDs come in many styles and can be used almost anywhere in your dorm room without worrying about them getting hot or burning out quickly.

Twinkle lights are another excellent option if you want something more subtle. If you're looking to go all-out, try slinging some lights along the edges of your bedframe and across the ceiling above it.


Use your walls for storage

Nails and hooks are your friends. You can hang everything from towels to backpacks on hooks or nails on the wall. Add a few suction hooks around your shower to hang stuff up while you're getting ready in the morning.

Wall shelves add instant storage without taking up any floor space at all. If you have a lot of clothing that needs to be hung up but doesn't have loops, consider buying a clothes rack so you can use all the vertical real estate your dorm room has to offer.


Use a room divider

Whether you have a roommate or just want to break up your open area, a room divider is a perfect solution to create privacy in your dorm space without spending too much money. Room dividers come in many shapes and sizes, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.

With numerous cost-efficient and DIY options, you can put together a beautiful one on the cheap that will fit right in with your current decor and make your away-from-home space a little cozier.


Display artwork

Hang paintings on your walls using removable adhesive mounting strips. These strips are very useful because they're easy to remove and don't leave a mark when you take them off, so you can make the space your own without worrying about getting in trouble at the end of the year.

Not into posters? Display small figurines or statues on your dresser or wall shelves to really make your individuality shine in your temporary home.


DIY your decor

If you're crafty, use some of your skills to create new decorations for your space. You can make anything from posters to pillows using supplies from the thrift or dollar store.

If sewing and drawing aren't your thing, you could even consider making your own furniture or other fixtures that perfectly fit your room. For example, instead of buying a dresser or desk, try building one yourself out of wood scraps at home or your school's workshop and painting it to match your dorm decor.


Incorporate plants

You don't have to be a botanist or even have any real knowledge about plants to have one or two of them in your dorm room. Plants set a serene atmosphere that's perfect for unwinding after a long day of classes or studying. They might even help clean up some of the air pollution caused by your electronics, since varieties like peace lilies (which are also low-light) have air-purifying properties.

Plants add life to any space and help set a chill mood for studying or spending time with visitors. Plus, they give you something to take care of!


Upgrade your bedding

Your place will feel a lot more cohesive if your bedding matches your dorm room decor. Whether you're going for a minimalist look or something more elaborate, there are plenty of options to choose from, and thrift store finds are a great option if you're on a budget (just wash them really well, first).

If your dorm room has a theme, such as beachy or floral, then choose bedding that fits the bill. Throw pillows can accent any decorating style. Use them as extra seating when friends come over, and use them to adorn the bed for a super cozy sleep space.


Stay organized

While it may be hard to resist the temptation of bringing every single thing you own with you to college, keep in mind that your dorm room is only so big. Using a variety of drawers and shelves will help you neatly and efficiently store the items you decided on.

Aim to give everything its own spot so it doesn't get lost in an endless sea of stuff. You'll have everything right at your fingertips, which is key when you're trying to get ready in the morning or study at night.


Keep your own kitchen supplies

Plenty of small appliances exist to help you whip up delicious meals on the fly so you can skip walking to the dining hall when you're crunched for time or feeling introspective.

Make sure your dorm room is well-equipped with everything you need to make a quick meal. You'll be surprised how far a hot plate and a kettle can get you, assuming your building allows these items.


Make it cozy

Dorm rooms are often small, cramped, and lacking in privacy. However, with a little ingenuity, you can turn your tiny home-away-from-home into a cozy retreat that you love to come back to at the end of a long day. Choose colors that make your space feel warm and inviting. Accent pieces or throw pillows in bright colors or neutral tones will create visual interest without overwhelming the room.

If you're worried about making it look too cluttered or not enough like a room at home, hang some really "you" curtains over the windows — hang the rod a foot above the actual window — or across the closet doors to create more separation between distinct areas and give the impression of a larger space.


Accent with removable wallpaper

Wallpaper is an easy way to add a pop of color without repainting. Peel-off options let you remove it when you leave and keep you from having to commit to your choice if you change your mind.

Adhesive wallpaper comes in so many patterns and designs these days, so you can find something that fits any style. Some companies even sell decals that aren't too bulky or difficult to apply so you can have your very own mural that's the envy of everyone on the floor.


Add your favorite things

Making your dorm room inviting can be a challenge. It’s important to choose furniture and décor that are functional, but also bring in items that mean something to you.

Pack a few of your favorite things to make your dorm room feel like home. Choose pieces that are meaningful and functional, then set them up as focal points.  To avoid clutter, don’t overfill your dorm room with knick-knacks and decorative items; instead, choose a few really cherished items.


Show your school spirit

Your school colors are an important part of your university experience, so why not incorporate them into your dorm room? Hang up pennants or banners to show off your pride!  Display memorabilia such as vintage flags from past years, photos from campus events, or a poster from your favorite sports team.


Protect your floors

Dorm rooms often haven't been updated for decades, and they can be cold and uncomfortable due to a lack of central heating or air conditioning. Soft rugs are excellent for warming cold floors during the winter months and for providing a softer surface than hardwood floors during the summer months. They protect your floor from damage and give you yet another option for really making that small space your own.


Make space for dining

A dining area is a place to disconnect sleep and study from eating. Many college students use their beds as their primary workspace, so this separation makes sense. In other words: try to set up a little spot to eat so that you aren't just sitting on your bed — this has the added benefit of prolonging the cleanliness of your duvet cover!

Either you're snacking with your roomie or have a specific time with the appliances before you need to clear out for the next person, consider either keeping your desk clear when it's not in use for studying or having a folding table you can whip out when it's time to dine. A specialized eating area also goes a long way to making your space feel homier.


Move your furniture

Unless the bed and desk are attached to the wall, consider moving your furniture to improve the layout of your dorm room. Maybe you like sitting on the floor to study and want space for a big pillow. Or perhaps you don't like reading in bed, so a chair near the lamp makes more sense.

The positioning of your furniture contributes to the overall mood and flow of your room and will help create an environment that makes you feel at home.


Decorate your door

Your hall door is one of the best opportunities for claiming your space that you have in college because it will be seen by your building mates every day. If you're going to be spending an entire year in one of these rooms, it's worth investing some time into making sure that this first impression is what you want it to be. Washi tape comes in countless colors and widths and is easy to remove. Removable decals are another great option, as are the previously mentioned adhesive strips if you want to add a poster or sign. The options are as varied as your neighbors' personalities!


Inspire yourself

Fill your dorm room with inspiration. Hang up quotes or phrases that motivate you, or display uplifting art on the walls. It’s easy to find inspirational quotes online or make your own with printouts or hand-drawn pieces.

Doodle on existing posters to make them feel more "you," or tack up letters from loved ones that talk about how proud of you they are. Everyone has that moment in college where they wonder if they chose the wrong major or whether they belong there at all, so head off this inevitable midterm slump with bright, welcoming, affirming evidence of how capable you are!



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