Making The Most of Your Dorm Room Decor

Decorating a small space like a dorm room can be challenging, but done right, your dorm room decor can be a fun expression of your personality. Here are eight tips for creating a space where you can kick back and be you:

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Choose Items With Multiple Functions

The most important factor in outfitting a small space is choosing pieces that have multiple functions. If you have enough space to bring furniture into your room, and your dorm supervisor permits it, consider items that do double-duty.

One easy-to-find dual-purpose piece is a coffee table with a top that rises into a higher, desk-like surface.  If your dorm is BYOB (bring your own bed, what did you think we meant?), consider a daybed - sofa by day, bed by night. If you really want to maximize space, opt for one that has under-bed storage.

Go Vertical

When floor space is limited, look to the ceiling to expand your living area. A loft bed is a classic and highly effective way to take advantage of every bit of space in a room. Most loft beds have a desk underneath. If the one you like doesn’t have a desk, though, there’s no doubt you’ll find one that fits.

Instead of a short (height), long (length) dresser, opt for a taller piece (often called a highboy or tallboy) to convert empty wall space into functional storage space.

Be Divisive

You can make a small space seem bigger by separating sections for different purposes. For example, you might designate one corner of the room as a study area and another as a sleep space. Divide the two sections with a bookcase or a decorative screen. You could also use a tension rod to hang a curtain to divide spaces - or to disconnect from your annoying roomie, if you have one.

Create Seating

If you plan to host get-togethers in your room, ample seating is a must. Get creative with seating by re-purposing other objects. Storage cubes are stackable and functional. If you’re going to invest in storage cubes, choose cubes that are sturdy enough to sit on. If you’re exceptionally tight on space, pay homage to the early 2000s with some inflatable furniture.

Think Temporary

You won’t be living in your dorm forever, and you don’t want to get slammed with a repair fee for wall damage when you move out. Choose removable, damage-free hanging products (like Command Strips) for art, clocks, calendars, and cork boards. Rugs, throw cushions, and other non-hanging decor items let you spice up your space without risking damage.

Be Smart About Storage

Unpopular opinion: Storage is more important than decor. Finding enough storage can be difficult in a dorm room, so choose pieces that allow you to stash your stuff. Opt for a bed with drawers underneath, and choose a desk with shelving built-in. Hang a net on the ceiling to store extra bedding, and create space for your jewelry by hanging temporary picture hooks on the wall. Modular systems can help you maximize space. Usually, these systems will let you combine any number of 12”x12” cubes to create an ideal storage layout for your space. You can buy doors for some of the cubes (to hide personal items, like toiletries) and leave others open and use them as display shelves.

Use the Walls

If you’re allowed to hang things on your wall, start with some shelves where you can stack colorful containers to hold small items. If you’re not allowed to use nails, look for the removable hooks discussed in an earlier tip.

While considering your wall space, don't forget your windows. Window sills are essentially small shelves, just be careful with things like skin products that need to stay cool and items you don’t want the sun to fade.

Personalize with Small Details

It’s all about the details. Don’t go overboard, though. The trick is to find just a few meaningful items that won't make your space seem cluttered. Stick with a particular color or theme to help keep the room looking well-planned and organized.

Start with one or two throw pillows on a chair or your bed. Make sure the colors match those on your bedspread and curtains. Pick a few fun items to place on your desk or windowsill.


Getting your dorm room in tip-top shape is an important step toward a successful year at school, and choosing pieces that make your smile will help keep you feeling positive, focused, and motivated as you pursue your degree or diploma. With a little work, your dorm room can be fun and functional.