7 different ways to decorate your dorm room
Sophisticated, glam, bohemian – what’s your style? Whatever you’re into, we’ve got lists on lists of dorm room décor ideas to help you figure it out. The first step is to decide on a colour scheme (because when decorating small spaces, that’s a good place to start), and then you can begin choosing pieces you love from there.
Most dorm rooms come equipped with a bedframe, mattress and desk, and a closet or dresser – the rest you’ll need to get yourself. Some décor basics to consider for your dorm room include:
• Bedding: pillows (1-2), pillowcases (2-4), duvets (1-2), fitted and top sheets (1-2), throw blanket, throw pillows
• Lighting: desk lamp, floor lamp, string lights
• Mirrors: full-length-mirror, face mirror
• Stationery (aside from pens, calculators etc.): waste basket, bulletin board/dry erase board, seat cushion (dorm room chairs often aren’t super comfy!)
• Tables: beside table, storage cart (aka bar cart)
• Extras: area rug, laundry hamper, knick-knacks, wall art
Whether you want to go with a cool, preppy vibe or just feel cozy in your space, read on for 7 dorm room décor styles to help create your home away from home (and of course get the most out of those study hours).
But first - a colour scheme!
When it comes to small spaces (like a dorm), consistent colours create flow and unity and can make the room feel bigger. So if you’re wondering what colours to choose, we’ve got some tips.
How do I choose a dorm room colour scheme? These ideas might help:
1. Stick to the basics with white, grey, and black. It’s simple and sophisticated – and choose furniture with Lucite (clear or see-through) accents for that extra modern touch.
2. Keep it cute with pastel colours. Pastel is trendy and helps create a cozy and calm vibe in your space. Pair 2-4 (or more) pastels with neutrals and you’ve got yourself a picturesque, Insta-worthy dorm room.
3. Glam it up with creams and neutrals, gold, and a pop of one colour. To keep it ‘glam’, stick to one colour like pink, purple, or Tiffany blue and pair it with hints of gold, glass and metal.
4. Feeling preppy? Stick to pink, muted gold, pine green, dark brown and navy blue. We suggest mixing patterns like houndstooth and plaid in different colours and pieces.
5. Go green and organic with some neutrals mixed in for a bohemian vibe. Using textures like plants and wood is highly encouraged (and plants will improve your indoor air quality so you’ll study better).
6. Create a dreamy vibe using lots of white mixed with pops of light blues, purples, pinks and oranges mixed together. Tie-dye is definitely your friend here.
7. Express your fun side with lots of colour or different shades of one colour. To find inspiration, find a bright duvet, area rug or piece of art that you love and use those colours in your décor. No need to worry about matching anything here – just go with whatever speaks to you!
If you read the above and still aren’t sure what suits you (or you just can’t decide), check out this fun quiz on what dorm room colour scheme you are. It’s quick and fun!
Next step, choose your style and start browsing
Once you find a colour scheme that suits you, match it to a number below and check out décor items that we suggest (lots of options!). Feel free to mix styles up – like classy and cute, or create an ‘organic glam’ look. The best part is, there are no rules. So mixing and matching is highly encouraged!
1. Classy & sophisticated (neutrals and Lucite)
2. Cute & cozy (pastels and white)
3. Glam (cream, gold and a pop of one colour)
4. Preppy (pink, mellow gold, pine green, dark brown and navy blue)
5. Organic & bohemian (neutrals, fiery orange, greens, greys, and browns)
6. Dreamy vibes (white, light blues, purples, pinks and oranges)
7. Bright & fun (anything bright or different shades of one colour)
1. Classy & sophisticated
Think: stripes, transparent accents, black and white, and minimal.
You like things simple, classy and sophisticated. Clean, fine lines and neutral colours are your thing. Have you heard of Lucite? Lucite is furniture that’s made with clear and transparent materials, and it’ll add a playful and chic touch to your dorm room.
Here are some décor ideas for decorating a sophisticated space:
• Sheets – stick to all white or a simple black and white design.
• Duvet cover – keep it simple and neutral!
o All white: Ruched pintuck or terry dot
o Grey: Ruffle jersey, grey eyelash, white with grey borders, or Chloe medallion
o Black, white and fabulous: Madison medallion, Avianna, Holli Zollinger, The Linden black border, chenille black chevron, or black and white marble
• Throw pillows – if you go plain with your duvet cover, have fun with your throw pillow patterns (you can always swap them out later!). Alternatively, patterned duvet covers work best with less detailed pillow patterns with solid colours.
o Fun patterned throw pillows: Grey velvet, geometric grey, Ivy Fringe Striped, black and white chevron, simple grid lines, Hygge definition, thick black and white stripes, thin black and white strips, or black and white gingham
o Solid coloured pillows: White wink face, eyelashes on white, all black, white textured, black pleated, dark grey tweed, white faux fur, or white quilted
• Throw blanket – add one to the back of your desk chair and a couple on your bed if you want – use different patterns and textures and mix-and-match black and white patterns.
LIGHTING: Keep your lighting sleek, but have some fun with it!
MIRRORS: You want thin, white or grey frames and nothing too flashy to keep with your sophisticated style.
STATIONERY: Whatever you did with your bedding, do the opposite with your stationery accessories. Bold bedding patterns? Choose simple stationery (and vice versa).
• Metal magazine rack (because it’s cute!)
TABLES: Sleek metal, glass, Lucite legs, and different shapes are what you want to look for.
EXTRAS: Neutral and minimal style means you shouldn’t have a ton of visible “extras” so your dorm doesn’t feel cluttered. Consider one or two of the “fun” objects below and mix them in with the utility and stationery items. Less is more!
2. Cute & cozy (colour scheme: pastels and white)
Think: tassels, knit fabrics, woven rugs, soft colours and layered faux fur.
Given your bedroom in college is kind of like your personal little oasis, you’ll want to make sure you feel cozy in it. Here are some tips on making your dorm room cute and comfy:
BEDDING: Pastels, plush, soft textures and lots of pillows and throws will make your room super cozy!
• Throw pillows: Blush pink shag, white cotton with Turkish modern design, lilac purple velvet, blush pink velvet, “Rain, tea & a good book” baby pink, pastel mixed abstract, pink and white stripes, ballet pink woven, or a cable knit oversized cotton pillow
LIGHTING: Warm colours, soft shapes and string lights should be your go-to lighting choices.
• Desk or bedside table lamps: How about a little white lamp
MIRRORS: Anything cute goes! Mirrors are handy, but they’re also décor that you can get creative with.
STATIONERY: Stationery accessories are an inexpensive way to add pops of pastels – so if you go with all white sheets and simple furniture, this is where you can add in your *cute* factor.
TABLES: White or light wood and painted pastel metals will “cute-ify” your space.
EXTRAS: There are so many extras you can add to cozy up your dorm room. Play with colours, textures, shapes and add flowers now and then so you can cozy right up and enjoy your space.
Insider tip for the coolest, coziest dorm ever: Do you have a corkboard in your dorm? If not, get one and put it up. Measure it and buy as many faux fur area rugs from Walmart as will fit (slight bit of math skills needed here). Then, staple the area rugs to your corkboard and ta-da! You have a furry wall.
3. It's all glam (colour scheme: cream, gold and a pop of one colour)
Think: gold accents, sparkly accessories, marble, velvet, mirrored finishes and old Hollywood.
Is Breakfast at Tiffany’s one of your favourite movies? Or maybe you just have an appreciation for beautiful perfume bottles and shiny tabletops? Either way, if the word “glam” speaks to your style, here are some ideas to help you decorate your dorm room like a glam queen:
BEDDING: Match up either all white bedding with colour in your throw pillows and blankets or vice versa to keep that fab factor present. Too many colours and patterns mixed together might distract from the simplicity of a glamorous space.
• Throw pillows: Pink peonies, golden metallic, grey and gold floral, leopard print faux fur, silver squares, pink and bronze patterned, dusky pink silk, dusky pink chenille embroidered, luxurious faux fur, black quilted velvet, blush knit, chenille medallion, white chenille embroidered, pale turquoise velvet, golden canvas, or pink velvet
LIGHTING: White, gold, and pops of 1-2 main colours here. Don’t forget about tassels and vintage lamps – they go perfectly with your look!
MIRRORS: Gold frames! Need we say more?
STATIONERY: Keep it simple, sweetie (*KISS).
TABLES: Mirror tops, Lucite legs, gold hardware. Done!
EXTRAS: With a glam space, little extras should be beautiful and subtle. You know those homes where everywhere you look you see perfect details? That could be your dorm!
• Wall art: “Throw glitter in today’s face”, “Go the extra mile” heels, “You had me at Chanel”, make up, “Lips of Love”, gold and white kiss wall art, “Voguestagram Anna Wintour”, “Rose Bottles”, “The gold pineapple”, or “marfa” Prada
• Storage tray: Set this galvanized antique tray on your desk or dresser for makeup, perfume or jewelry!
4. Prep it up (colour scheme: pink, mellow gold, pine green, dark brown and navy blue)
Think: monograms, polka dots, plaid, brown leather and nautical stripes.
Preppy décor speaks to a genteel approach to work and play, according to Houzz. Iconic preppy means plaid, stripes, houndstooth and gingham checks, all perfectly mixed together.
Houzz also says “the key to mixing patterns is to pay attention to the scale and palette – too many large-scale prints will overwhelm each other; a bunch of small-scale ones can get lost. Colours don’t have to match, but they should at least stay in the same family.”
BEDDING: Much like the other styles, all white bedding with pops of your main colours always works well. For a preppy style, you’ll want accents of navy blue, mellow gold (aka mustard yellow), forest green and carnation pink. And don’t shy away from mixing patterns – just use similar colours and you’re set.
• Throw pillows: Caramel shimmer, caramel matte, grey and caramel plaid, navy shimmer, navy squares, dark green soft velvet, navy blue and mustard yellow, nautical vibes, blue soft velvet, blue velvet with yellow pom poms, yellow check, or dark yellow with textured dots
• Throw blankets: Soft mustard yellow pom poms, mellow gold waffle, mustard yellow with tassels, soft blue, blue zig-zags and polka dots, sage green striped wool, diamond stripe cotton, plush buffalo check, or yellow stripes with tassels
LIGHTING: Simple, white and beige lighting gives you the opportunity to add colours in other areas. Or, go with monogram, stripes and polka dots!
MIRRORS: Keep it simple and frameless.
STATIONERY: Feel free to play around with patterns and colours here.
• Bulletin board: Keep it simple and post fun things on it
TABLES: Painted wood plus a plaid tablecloth? Why not.
EXTRAS: Monogramed accessories (like coffee mugs) and nautical knick-knacks will make your dorm feel that much more preppy – so keep your eye out for navy blue and anchor designs!
5. Organic & bohemian (colour scheme: neutrals, fiery orange, greens, greys, and browns)
Think: crochet, nature, culture, mixed patterns and textures, and “more is more”.
Bohemian or “boho” refers to embracing the carefree, relaxed and unusual. It combines objects, patterns and colours from around the world – with earthly tones ruling the colour scheme. Pops of metallics and jewel tones make this style unique, but any colour goes with boho. Vintage pieces are key here – so hit up some thrift stores to help create the look.
BEDDING: Think neutral or solid coloured bedding with layered blankets, lots of tassels and big comfy pillows.
• Duvet covers: Cotton with tassels, mustard yellow, jungle pattern, honey dot duvet, nomadic fringe diamonds, chenille embroidered white, modern canvas, quilted jersey, or exotic sheen set with tassels
• Throw pillows: Light grey tweed, tropical design, green shaggy body pillow, dark yellow round herringbone, fluffy pom poms, Frida Kahlo, medium yellow knit, knit-duo ivory, geometric patchwork, plants and a cat, or crochet knit cushion
LIGHTING: Anything unique or earthy will work for lighting – including crochet hanging pendants, salt lamps and crescent moon lamps.
MIRRORS: Wood frames are key around your mirrors to keep the natural element present.
STATIONERY: Use woven baskets, tassels and add in pops of your earthly colour scheme.
TABLES: Stick to natural materials like wood and stone.
EXTRAS: Experiment with knick-knacks from different cultures and be unique. Remember, when it comes to boho style, more is more.
6. Dreamy, hippie vibes (colour scheme: white, light blues, purples, pinks and oranges)
Think: tie-dye, wicker, ombré, pastels, iridescent, and textiles.
If you have a free-spirited, do-what-you-want, stop-to-appreciate-the-sky, and DIY your own tie-dye kind of vibe, this style is for you. Soft colours with bright accents, textiles, moon stone, and crystals should definitely be present. This style is similar to boho, but focuses less on the culture of the world and more on America circa 1960s.
Here’s what else you’ll need to decorate your dreamy dorm room:
BEDDING: Colour! Tie-dye blankets! The sky's the limit – just add in soft textures and it’ll be even cozier and dreamier.
LIGHTING: Think crystals and pretty colours, like blue, purple, pink and orange.
MIRRORS: Iridescent + fun shapes = dreamy vibes all the way.
STATIONERY: Get creative and consider shapes and designs with the moon, stars, sun or clouds.
• Bulletin board: Assorted coloured plastic frame cork boards
TABLES: Think dressers with different coloured drawers and brightly painted wood. Hit up a thrift store, find something you like, and paint it with your favourite chalk paint and you’re set!
EXTRAS: Iridescent, ombré, tie-dye – keep these in mind while searching for fun additions to your room.
7. Bright & vibrant (colour scheme: anything bright or different shades of one colour)
Think: texture, neon, vibrant, and no rules.
There are no rules with this style other than to have fun! Whether you want to add every colour under the sun or stick to one and use different shades of it, there really are endless options. One tip to using so much colour (or just one) – add in a variety of textures and one or two more plain pieces of furniture to make it all blend together in the end.
BEDDING: You can pretty much go anywhere and find fun, colourful bedding. But here are some that we love to help with your search!
LIGHTING: While you can play around with all types of shapes and colours with your lighting, don’t forget that you can also buy multi-coloured LED light bulbs (that you can change and control using your phone. For real!).
• Floor lamps: 5-light coloured lamp or anything with fun colours and design
MIRRORS: Look for mirrors with bright coloured frames, or buy used and paint it yourself!
• Body mirror: Oval standing mirror (that you can paint)
STATIONERY: Rainbow accessories, anyone?
• Bulletin board: Assorted coloured plastic frame cork boards
TABLES: Key tip – think of a style you like before you start searching. Anything can be painted, but the structure is what’s important here.
EXTRAS: From wall art to small area rugs, there are tons of ways that you can incorporate fun colours to your space on the cheap.
We hope you enjoy exploring these 7 different, fun and creative ways to decorate your dorm room - and making it one of the most stylish on your floor! Most importantly, this is your chance to create a space that says "you" all over it - so you can unwind, feel safe and cozy, and study hard. Good luck!
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