Dorm decor is all about personality. See what dorm essentials you need to keep your space unique and functional. This list will help you check at least one thing off your packing list.


A dorm room might be your teen's first space to decorate on their own. Because of this, they'll want to go all-out with dorm room wall art and furniture. However, they probably don't have the space for many items outside those provided by their school. Help your teen limit their dorm decor to just the essentials. With our tips, they'll know what to pack for a room that's just as functional as it is stylish.

Solid Bedding

blue decorative pillows

Bedding is an important part of your dorm room decor, since most students spend a lot of time studying and relaxing on their bed. Try a solid comforter with patterned sheets, or mix patterns like stripes with florals. You can never have too many pillows! Choose different colors and textures to add spice to your bed. Because beds are often the only seating available for guests, make sure your dorm bedding sheets can easily be laundered.

Be Graphic


The best dorm room ideas are ones that don't put a dent in your budget. Create a large rug on a budget by lining up two smaller, identical rugs. This extra-large rug will save you from buying a bulky roll of carpet, since most schools do not provide rugs. Another trick to crafting a large rug is using sample carpet tiles from a home center. Pick out different colors and create a large pattern to suit your fancy.

Original Artwork

desk with gold accessories and geometric wall art

Spice up blank walls by designing your own dorm room wall art. Be whimsical or bold—whichever suits your style. Your DIY dorm essentials should always include a canvas, acrylic paint, Mod Podge, and fabric. With these few items, you can recreate almost any dorm decor you find in the stores. Showcase your masterpieces in large frames around your room.

Out of the Ordinary

bulletin board

The key to college room decor is mixing style with functionality. One good way to do this is to accessorize your bulletin boards with keepsakes and inexpensive artwork. Choose photos and postcards you love, but avoid making your board look cluttered. Add a creative touch by using ribbon as an earring holder, or a strip of magnets to hold paperclips. This will show off your collection and keep it organized.

In the Clear


See-through objects, like this desk chair, can make a small space feel larger. Here, the chair sits at the desk, but it's so light that it can easily be moved over near a bed for a group movie night, or tucked by the wall to be out of the way. When dealing with a small space, it's important to have dorm decor that blends into the surroundings instead of commanding attention.

Fabric Does Wonders

floral lampshade
Credit: Marty Baldwin

A couple yards of fabric goes a long way in a dorm room. Cover a bulletin board to create instant artwork behind your photos, or dress up a lampshade with fabric you have in your scraps pile. We covered this drum shade in a floral fabric to give texture and color to the plain light fixture. For even more dorm decor ideas, save extra fabric to frame and hang on the wall.

Under the Bed

under bed storage drawers

Trade those stacked storage bins for stylish dorm room decorating ideas that better utilize the space you already have. Try a trio of colorful bins, boxes, or baskets under the bed. Ours hold shoes and out-of-season clothing, but these are also handy for files, games, or extra linens.

Over the Desk

child's room storage

Let's not forget the very reason we need college room decor... school! On top of fabulous dorm room wall art, it's important to have elements that will help organize your classwork and books. Additional shelving over the desk and a storage cabinet under the television will help keep books and supplies nearby.

Simple Storage


With all your belongings in one small room, you have to get creative with storage. Condense your kitchen supplies to one cabinet, or put all your bathroom toiletries in a portable caddy. We love this dorm room idea for food container storage—it employs a pull-out basket that makes low cabinets easier to access.


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