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14 Easy and Stylish Dorm Room Decor Ideas for College Students

With college students heading back to campuses in droves, many for the first time, it’s time to start thinking about dorm room decorating ideas! When you live on a campus where thousands of people have the exact same room and furniture as you, it’s worth spending a bit of time to make your space feel more unique. And, more than that, to make it feel personal and homey! After all, what you really need is a space where you can crash between classes, get some studying done, and a place where you can hang out with your new friends!

So, to help you out, we rounded up 14 inexpensive dorm room decorating ideas that will help you personalize your space, transforming it into a home away from home! You can also check out our dorm room layout ideas for more inspiration!

Bonus: For those of you who live in off-campus apartments, these dorm room ideas still apply—though you can also check out our design tips for small apartments as well!

1. Layer Up on Cozy Bedding

Bedding is the most practical way to add comfort and style to your dorm room decor. You can keep it simple by opting for a duvet set that comes with a matching duvet cover and pillowcase. But you can also add extra style, color, and texture with a mix of throw pillows! And be sure to add a throw blanket to the end of your bed for some added comfort, color, and coziness.

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2. Bring in a Nightstand

A lot of dorm rooms don’t come with a nightstand—but this piece of furniture is essential in any bedroom. After all, you need a place to set your water glass, phone, glasses, and anything you want to reach from bed! If you don’t have space for a full-sized nightstand, or if it’s not in the budget to buy one, you can always use a nightstand alternative like a stool or even a utility cart. When styling your nightstand, add a small lamp for reading in bed, and layer on a plant for a homey feel!

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3. Create a Gallery Wall

Nothing adds personality to college dorm rooms quite like a gallery wall! It’s the perfect way to decorate a large blank wall in your dorm room while adding color to neutral walls, along with some personality and style. You could create your gallery wall with photographs, polaroids, prints, framed art, tapestries, or a mixed media wall that brings in a little of everything! (And check out our guide on how to hang art if you need some help getting started!)

Designer Tip: If you can’t use nails, choose art that can be hung with command strips or putty. (Which also makes for easy removal at the end of the school year!)

4. Style Your Dresser Top

Dressers in a dorm room can easily become a surface where you dump books, toss clothes, or simply waste by letting it sit empty and collect dust. But it’s a perfect space to utilize and bring in some dorm room decor. Use the surface space on your dresser to add personal touches from home—like art, books, and a lamp. This is a great space to showcase momentos and another great space to inject some personality into your dorm decor!

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5. Set Up a Coffee Station

Having a coffee maker in your dorm room can save a ton of time and money! And it’s also nice when you need coffee but don’t want to leave your room but just need one more cup of coffee. (Or if you’re burning the midnight oil trying to finish up a research paper before that morning deadline!) So, set up a coffee station on the top of your dresser or on a utility cart. All you need is a coffee maker (either a regular drip machine or a Keurig or Nespresso!), plus a tray to corral some mugs, your coffee grounds or pods, and any cream or sugar! You could also hang a small wall shelf or tiered organizer for your coffee accessories. A coffee station is also a fun dorm room idea for when you’re hosting friends and family!

6. Accessorize Your Desk

Ok, so you came to college to get a degree, and studying is how you expect to spend a lot of your time. But that doesn’t mean it’s always fun! However, adding personal touches to your workspace can make it more comfortable, cheerful, and a place you want to spend time! You can accessorize your desk by adding framed photos from home, setting up an inspiring letter board, or styling a tray with your favorite flowers, a candle or diffuser, and a colorful task lamp. Just make sure you strike a balance of practical and decorative items so that your desk is still functional for homework and studying.

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7. Create a ‘Getting Ready’ Zone

If your dorm room doesn’t come with a full-length mirror, this is a piece you’ll definitely want to purchase! How else will you be able to check your outfit before you leave?? This also allows you to do your makeup and hair in your room so you don’t have to get ready in a crowded bathroom every morning!

To create a full ‘getting ready” zone, add hooks and bins nearby, along with some cute boxes to house your hair styling tools, makeup, and jewelry. You could even add a rug to zone the space even more and add a pouf to sit on while you get ready!

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8. Get a Multipurpose Pouf

Speaking of poufs—these are amazing inexpensive and multipurpose pieces that are a perfect addition to your dorm room decor. As we already mentioned above, they’re great for sitting on while doing your hair and makeup, but they can also be used as an extra seat when you have friends over, as a footrest if you have another chair in your space, or as a makeshift side table—basically whatever you need them to be. They’re also super durable and can easily be moved around as needed.

9. Hang Drapery

Your dorm room windows probably came with aluminum blinds—but they tend to be old and dusty and feel pretty sterile. An inexpensive way to add personality and style to your space is to hang drapery in front of your blinds. Curtains bring texture, color, visual warmth, and a touch of hominess to your dorm decor. And they can also help with temperature control! You can go bold with bright or jewel-toned curtains, or keep things more neutral (which is a great option if you and your roommate have different design preferences!).

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10. Add Greenery

Plants can bring a lot of life and texture to your college dorm room. And you don’t need to have a green thumb to be a plant mom! Just start with one or two low-maintenance plants and set them on your windowsill or another surface where they can get enough natural light! (You can even mix faux plants in with real ones if you want the look without the maintenance!) Bonus: Plants naturally help with air quality—which is always nice in a shared living space!

11. Try Out Layered Rugs

A lot of college dorm rooms either have cold concrete floors or old, ugly carpeting. Give your dorm room a facelift by adding some area rugs to the floor! Rugs add comfort underfoot, but also are great for making your room feel warmer, dampening noise, and adding some color and pattern to your dorm room. They’re an especially good addition to your dorm room decor if you like sprawling out on the floor or walking around barefoot! If you want to take it a step further, you can layer a more decorative rug on top of a more neutral, durable rug—which also gives you a stylish, layered look.

Designer Tip: On a budget? Opt for a natural-fiber rug, which is one of our favorite cheap decor ideas that gets you the look you want for less!

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12. Add a Comfy Chair

Want a place for reading, studying, or just chilling that’s not your desk or your bed? Bring in a comfy accent chair! They’re great when you want to study or read in your dorm room but you need something more comfortable than the standard wooden chair that goes with your desk! For some added practicality, place a C-table, which can double as a desk while sitting in the chair, next to the chair, as well as a floor lamp for additional lighting.

13. Create a Hangout Zone

If you have a loft bed, we love the idea of creating a hangout zone underneath the loft. It’s great to have a place where you can chill and hangout with your roommate and friends. To create a comfy seating area, start with a loveseat or smaller sofa, then add in a small coffee or side table to give you a place to set food, drinks, and even laptops for a movie night or study group. This is also a great place to layer in a pouf, as well as rugs, pillows, and throw blankets to make it extra cozy and homey.

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14. Hang Up String Lights

What is it about string lights that makes any space feel more cute and cozy? String lights are the ideal dorm room decor! They’re a great way to add ambient lighting when you don’t want the harsh fluorescent overhead lights on, which are standard in most dorms. Plus, they offer the perfect amount of light for movie nights!

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Our Designers’ Best Interior Design Tips For Small Apartments

Trying to make a new apartment feel like home can be hard, especially when the space you have to work with is small. It doesn’t help that you generally can’t make permanent changes in a rental. (Find tips on here.) And to top it off, your place might have strange dimensions or awkward features that you have no clue what to do with.

Fortunately, Modsy designers have seen it all and can help you with all of our small apartment woes. Not only do we have some great decorating ideas for rentals, but today we’re also sharing some small apartment design ideas from our home design playbook to help you tackle your space in style.

One thing to note—while most studio apartments are small, not all small apartments are studios. If you’re looking for some studio-specific advice, check out our blog posts on studio apartment design tips and ideas for studio apartment layouts.

Read on for our 8 best design tips for small apartments!

apartment design ideas

1. Light It Up With Wall Sconces

If you’re looking for small apartment design ideas involving lighting, wall sconces are the way to go. These babies light up your home without wasting valuable floor space or table surface area (unlike a chunkier table lamp).

What’s even better? Many wall sconce options can be plugged into the wall so you don’t have to worry about the whole wiring issue. Some even swivel, giving you extra flexibility with your lighting!

apartment design ideas

2. Keep Furniture Off the Floor

Similar to how your mom used to say “keep your feet off the sofa,” one of the best apartment design ideas involves keeping your furniture off the floor.

Why? Because nothing makes a small space look even smaller like a bulky sofa plopped right on the floor. Instead, try using leggy furniture that sits high up off the floor to make your space seem larger. Pieces with long tapered legs, like this sofa, are a perfect choice. (Psst! This is also a reason why the Mid-Century Modern trend is so popular in urban cities where homes are a lot smaller.) This is a perfect living room design idea, but it goes for bedrooms as well!

apartment design ideas

3. Layer a Rug Over Your Carpet

One of the best small apartment design ideas is to cover unattractive flooring with a pretty rug. This works whether you have hardwood, tile, or carpet that’s just not doing it for you.

Not only does a rug add style but it also helps define zones in your layout, which can make your apartment feel more spacious. Plus, rugs are easy to roll up and transport, meaning you can invest knowing you’ll be able to use it in your next place.

apartment design ideas

4. Divide Your Space With Your Furniture

Many small apartments don’t have separate dining and living rooms (or even separate bedrooms if you’re living the studio life). But you can still create different “zones” using your furniture to divide the space.

Among the best small apartment design ideas is using the back of your sofa to act like a wall that divides one large living/dining room into two separate areas. Another of our favorite small apartment furniture tricks is to use an open-back bookcase or a room divider as a way to create distinct zones within your small apartment!

apartment design ideas

5. Try an Irregular Rug

Sometimes it’s best to skip a rectangular rug and embrace an asymmetrical, organically shaped option instead. After all, a rug that is clearly too big or too small will just draw attention to the size of your room.

Instead, try an irregularly shaped rug, such as a cowhide, or even a round rug. This will create a sense of flow and fill most of the floor space without drawing attention to the small size of your room.

apartment design ideas6. Opt for Clear Furniture

When you can’t make more space, you can always employ some apartment design ideas that make it look like you have more space. The oldest trick in the interior designer’s handbook? Clear furniture!

Opting for pieces made of glass or acrylic is a great way to trick the eye into thinking your space is larger than it is. So skip the bulky wooden coffee table in favor of a glass or acrylic option. It’ll make your space look more open and airy – which in turn will help it feel larger!

apartment design ideas

7. Prop Up Artwork

Renting an apartment often means you can’t put holes in the walls. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the chance to display beautiful art in your home! Instead, just put the artwork on a dresser or shelf and lean it against the wall.

This is also a great trick to create a slightly more eclectic vibe in your space. Not worried about making holes? Try leaning one piece of art against another hung on the wall for a layered look.

apartment design ideas

8. Use Your Space Vertically

You may not have a lot of square footage in your apartment, but you can make the absolute most of it by going vertical. That’s why one of our favorite small apartment design ideas is using bookcases in creative ways!

apartment design ideas

apartment design ideas

Bookcases make use of your space vertically so you can maximize storage while minimizing use of floor space. Want to take it a step further? Try swapping your nightstand or side table for a bookcase. You could even consider finding a bookcase with a built-in desk option as an easy way to squeeze in a home office to your small apartment! (In fact, that’s one of our favorite tips for small apartment office designs!

If you’re having trouble visualizing these small apartment interior design ideas in your own home, let Modsy help! We use 3D designs to show you how new furniture and decor will look in your exact room, ensuring you don’t waste time or money buying items that won’t fit or look good in your home. Check out our Interior Design 101 page where we answer a bunch of common questions about interior design and Modsy’s services!

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Space-Savvy Solutions For 5 Tiny (and Tricky) Spaces

Designing and furnishing a small space is no walk in the park. In fact, it can pose quite the challenge! Though your space is small, there are so many considerations to think through. How do I arrange the space? What furniture should I buy? Can I even fit a sofa? Where am I going to store all my stuff? Challenges abound.

Let’s not forget that many small rooms are not only small, but can be kind of awkward. This means you’ve got a tricky layout to crack, making these pint-sized spaces even more of a design dilemma

Every small space comes with it’s own slew of challenges. But with a few clever and creative tricks up your sleeve, you can design a functional and stylish space.

We’ve rounded up 5 of the tiniest (and trickiest) spaces we’ve seen, and break down how our designers tackled them. Take a peek below for some small room ideas and small space hacks from our designers.

Ready for a crash course in our best small room ideas? Keep scrolling to see how these 5 tiny spaces met their match.

 

1. A Recessed Living Room Nook

small room ideasThe Challenge:

More like a nook than an actual room, this tiny living space needed furniture that fit with a precision worthy of NASA engineers. Luckily for these homeowners, trying out sofas with 3D online interior design saved them lots of time and backaches. The priority was to find pieces that fit and make the most of every square inch of floor space.

small room ideas

The Solutions:

  • Find a sofa that perfectly fits the small space. Consider your options, like which side you want the chaise to be on. A great option here? Exploring small apartment furniture and apartment-sized sofas.
  • One of our best small room ideas? Try a rug with an organic shape, like a cowhide. This creates a sense of flow in the space and draws attention away from the size of the room.
  • Choose a coffee table with hidden storage, which is one of our favorite sneaky storage ideas for small living rooms! 
  • Pull in a chair with an open, airy frame that won’t add visual weight to the room. It also helps to break up the boxiness of the space.

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2. A Small Home Office for Two

small room ideas – officeThe Challenge:

This small spare room needed to work as an office for two, with space-saving storage options. It also needed to have some sort of relaxed seating. It was a tall order, but we managed to create a small office design that really worked on all counts.

small room ideas

The Solutions:

  • The L-shape arrangement of the desks uses the corner and wall space to its full potential. All without cluttering up the room. That’s a tiny room design win-win in our book!
  • Don’t be afraid to try two different desks—one with plenty of storage and the other with a slim base for fit. (But going for matching finishes will help the shared home office arrangement look more cohesive.)
  • Adding a petite, armless sofa made for ideal seating that isn’t bulky.
  • A C-shape side table can function like a lap desk for working on the sofa. You can also easily move it next to your desk for a place to put your coffee or drink (no more desk spills!).
  • Hang up wall-mounted floating shelves to take advantage of vertical wall space for storage and display your favorite home decor.

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3. A Compact Bedroom

small room ideas bedroom

The Challenge:

This small bedroom posed some major interior design challenges to its occupant. On the bright side, this tiny bedroom gets lots of natural light. However, this space needed some small bedroom design tips to keep it cozy but uncluttered. There’s no closet space to speak of, so finding ways to incorporate extra storage was essential when thinking through small bedroom ideas for this space.

small room ideas bedroom

The Solutions:

  • Fill out the space at the foot of the bed with comfy and functional accents, like a bench and/or a pouf. They’ll also make the space feel less utilitarian. This is one of our top small bedroom ideas—because even a tiny bedroom should be more than “just a place to sleep.”
  • Lean a floor-length mirror to make the space feel bigger and more open. Have limited floor space? Try a series of mirrors for a similar effect.
  • Pick narrow storage pieces to give you the storage space you need without taking over your room. Narrower pieces can squeeze into corners and along walls without feeling bulky.
  • Layer rugs, like a colorful one paired with a cowhide or fluffy shag rug, to add lots of cozy texture in any small bedroom
  • This is one of those fun, simple home decor ideas that doesn’t take up additional space! Bonus: an organically shaped cowhide rug is a great way to add style to a small bedroom—while helping the space feel less boxy.

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4. A Narrow Nursery

small room ideas nurseryThe Challenge:

The goal was to create a stylish nursery—but one that was also highly functional. Given this room’s narrow shape, the furniture needed to be arranged in a line along one side of the room, which had the potential to look awkward. The parents also wanted the crib to be in clear sight at all times and there needed to be space for a changing table. Bring on the small nursery design tips!

small room ideas nursery

The Solutions:

  • Stagger the crib and changing table down the narrow hallway to preserve the walkway while also improving the look of the space. (Essentially, this just looks better than lining up both pieces along the same wall!) This also places the crib in the center of the room, between the two windows, optimizing sightlines.
  • No need to include both a dresser and a changing table. Have a dresser do double-duty by adding a changing table topper. This is also a great way to design for now and later!
  • Add sconces rather than table and floor lamps. They’re a great way to add lighting without taking up floor space—not to mention they’ll be out of baby’s reach!
  • Tuck in a daybed that provides an adult nap spot. Plus, it can also easily make for a guest bed in a pinch! Choose one that has an open base and comes without arms or a back so that it doesn’t add visual bulk.

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5. A Shoebox-Sized Studio

Small room ideas – studio apartmentThe Challenge:

This long studio had the trifecta of tiny apartment interior design challenges. It had to function as a living space and bedroom and also provide a little area for dining and small gatherings. So, we brought in all our best small apartment design tips to make the most of this tiny space.

small room ideas – studio apartmentThe Solutions:

  • A floor mirror helps open up the space and make it look bigger while making use of a tricky corner by the window—a great way to maximize a small space.
  • In tight apartment spaces, clever use of corner spaces can be a space (and life) -saver. Make the most of your walls through hanging shelves and sconces and bringing in tall, slender bookcases to display some home decor and give you some extra storage. (Wall-mounted bookcases are a favorite tiny room design hack of ours, since they take up less floor space than a traditional bookcase.)
  • A tiny studio apartment like this doesn’t have space for a sofa. But that doesn’t mean you have to forego any seating! Simply opt for a small accent chair, along with comfy and moveable seating, like one or two poufs. They can also double as footrests and side tables if needed!
  • Speaking of seating—a chair can take advantage of the unused space at the foot of the bed, making for a comfy place to watch TV, read a book, or wind down with a drink at the end of the day.
  • For easy-to-stow dining seating, bring in bar stools with open, airy frames.

Looking for more studio apartment ideas? Check out our studio apartment layout guide.

See This Room in 360!

 

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This post was updated on February 14th, 2021