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Extreme Makeover: Dorm Room Edition

There’s extreme makeover for people, homes and gardens, and I think it’s about time that there were an extreme makeover dorm edition. Starting college can be a terrifying experience: you’re leaving your family, starting an ‘adult’ life, and you’re on your own. It doesn’t help that when you arrive you are given a drab and lifeless box to live in. You need to put some soul into that soulless pit and transform it into a place you never want to leave, rather than the place you try your best to avoid.

Dorm room decorating ideas

When I was living in a dorm I was on a tight budget and studying abroad. My roommate was also a foreign student. As a first step towards dorm room decorating, and staying true to our respective nationalities, we got a flag from each of our countries, as well as one from the country we were studying in. Then we artfully tacked them to the wall (or ceiling). We also collected any objects that were associated with our countries and stuck those on the wall too. It became our heritage wall.

We had a cork board already in our room and decided to turn it into a quote wall (we’re both quote obsessed).  We bought some colorful sticky notes and then whenever we heard something inspiring that a teacher said we wrote it down with their name. Or we would write just any quotes we came across, or things some of our friends had said that were hilariously funny.

Magazines are another way to decorate the room. We cut out any photographs that we liked or any words in cool fonts and made an arty, crazy wall. 

We each also bought a bedside lamp so we didn’t have to survive in the harsh, bright light of the room all the time, and it solved the issue of when one of us was going to sleep and the other was not. You can also buy a string of lights and hang it around the room to make it even cuter.

Buy nice bed sheets– and not just whatever was going spare in your laundry closet. Sheets can change the way a room looks so much! So make sure they’re nice and not the Barbie or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles linen you had when you were 5. If possible, try and coordinate colors with your roommate. If you know who your roommate will be before moving in, contact them to discuss color choices. Yes, even guys should do this! There’s nothing wrong with guys wanting to have a nice and cohesive dorm room. 

By the end of our study abroad together, my roommate and I had such as awesome room that we could barely stand to look at it when we had to take it all down and leave it ‘naked’ and lifeless as it was before.

Here are some more ideas I wish I had thought of when we were decorating:

dorm room ideas

If you have a little money to spend you can get a rug to cover the ugly dorm floors. It also makes the room feel cozy and homey. I suggest waiting to see what color linen your roommate  brings with so that you can try and color coordinate. If you were in contact already about the color of sheets then you can go right ahead and buy one before you arrive at college!

Removable wall stickers are inexpensive and can be a really nice touch to the décor. 

A cluttered room just looks messy and unappealing (at least to me!) so, keep your room organized. Buy some desk drawers for papers and organize your books however you want to- on a shelf, in a box, or just neatly stacked somewhere. Use empty jars to hold pens and stationery. Accessorize the jars with a little bit of string or ribbon wrapped around the opening.

If your dorm rules allow it,  stick up some photos on the walls. Stick them up in a specific shape like a star, or make your own photo frames around the photos using easily removable tape or card.

Keep all your toiletries that you would need for your shower in a shower caddy so that it is easy to carry to the shower. Leave the caddy near your towel so that you don’t get out the shower and realize that you forgot to bring your towel with.  

What other dorm room decorating ideas do you have?

For guys: Watch this video from ThinkTank about what NOT to do when decorating.


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