Ideas + Advice


15 Dorm Room Ideas for Guys + Girls

Girls are known for being the most excited to decorate their first dorm room and usually have a vision of what they want it to look like before move-in day, but guys, this is an exciting time for you, too! You’re away from home in your very own space or sharing it with a friend who’s going through the same new experience. There’s no reason your space shouldn’t feel like home AND look cool, too. Here are a few dorm room ideas to think about when moving into your new space:

Dorm Room Decor Ideas for Guys

1. Buy quality pieces you can reuse in your first apartment

By investing in a few quality pieces for your dorm that are going to be easily reused in your first apartment, you’re saving yourself money from having to buy replacements later, because they’ll uphold the everyday use. A few examples of pieces that are worth investing in are sleeper sofas, a comfortable desk chair for long study hours, a bright desk lamp, wall art to add a personal touch and a good quality area rug to bring the room together and create a more cozy space.

2. Make the best out of your small space by using multifunctional pieces

Small Spaces call for smart storage and furniture solutions. By getting two or more types of uses out of one item, you’re maximizing your space and creating a functional home. For example, a Storage Ottoman could be used as a coffee table, extra seating when your friends come over to hang, a place to kick your feet up while watching a movie or studying, and essential storage space – all-in-one! A twin sleeper sofa would be a comfy space to hang out but also a place to crash for a friend or sibling who is visiting for the weekend.

3. Make it look mature and masculine

This is your first home away from home, and you’re stepping into a new direction in life. You’re ready to move on into a more mature and masculine space, embrace it! This is a chance to create a space that reflects the new you.

4. Discover your personal style

Your dorm doesn’t have to be generic or boring; by discovering an interior style you can relate with, you’re creating a space you feel like is really yours. Take some style quizzes; Do you like a more clean and modern look? You’ll probably love a minimalist modern style. Do you like a warm cabin feel? You’ll probably be into rustic interiors. Brainstorm elements and aesthetics in interiors you really like – reclaimed wood, leather, earthy tones, clean lines, geometric patterns (the list could go on…) and then shop with your newly discovered style in mind.

5. Bring in Unusual Materials

A little bit of style doesn’t have to look feminine; in fact, certain rugged materials can even elevate a masculine feel. In the image here, a rattan chair takes the place of the standard dorm-issued metal chairs; this way, you get a space that’s more comfortable and more refreshed without feeling over the top.

6. Opt for Neutral Colors

Neutrals will keep the vibes laidback all year-round, and can be taken with you to next year’s dorm or apartment (and the year’s after that . . and after that . . and so on). That’s not to say you have to keep things boring; different shades of neutrals contrast and add depth. In the dorm shown here, bed, desk and chair are brown, grey and beige, respectively, creating cool-and-collected style.

7. Consider An Extra Bout of Seating

Bringing in an extra loveseat or chair might set you back more than if you were to just keep the dorm the way it came, but consider the payoffs: you’ll have a designated lounge chair, a change of scenery for when you want to move away from desk or bed– plus a comfortable “kick back and hang loose” area for friends and guests.

8. Keep Surfaces Tidy + Focused

Keeping a dorm tidy and clutter-free isn’t just about vanity – it’s about your own well-being. When books, notebooks, tablets, book bags, athletic gear and shoes have their own designated storage spaces (whether dresser, nightstand, shelf or cubby) and are in their own designated spaces, you’ll feel less stressed – and ready to tackle your next class assignment!

Dorm Decor Ideas for Girls

Let’s face it: dull dorm rooms are a thing of the past. In the age of Instagram aesthetics, dorms have transformed into hangout havens and backdrops for study selfies. This means there’s more freedom than ever when it comes to setting up your new space’s style. Let your dorm’s design reflect you and your intricate identity.

Starting college can be stressful enough so we took your first notes for you. Start with this short study guide on creating an insta-worthy dorm in just 4 simple steps.

Don’t worry; you’re going to ace it.

1. Get colorful & cozy with textiles

Craft the overall vibe of your space with bedding and rugs. Charming decorative pillows and bold rugs are a great way to layer in texture and warmth. These elements often catch the most attention so don’t shy away from showing off your style.

2. Set up a study spot

After spending all day in lecture halls, you’ll want a comfortable place to tackle your work. Create study and hang-out zones that welcome in you and your friends when cramming for exams. Up the luxury factor with decorative pillows rattan chairs and plush poufs for plenty of seating after a long day.

3. Put supplies up high

When floor space is at a minimum, maximize wall space with pegboards. These adjustable organization stations can shelf office supplies, craft materials, plants, and more. Hang up jewelry and bags to keep clutter from piling up on your desk. The best part: change up the configuration whenever you want.

4. Add accessories unique to you

Living in a dorm doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice individuality. Bring your personality to life with accessories that express your distinctive style. Let your interests inform the decor you choose -- a quirky camera showcases your love of photography (or selfies), a wall hanging flaunts your boho aesthetic. Bonus: as your tastes evolve, so can your dorm’s details!

5. Reflect With a Mirror

One of the easiest way to make a small space like a dorm feel bigger and brighter is with a mirror. Sure, the room might already come with a closet mirror, but adding a wall mirror above a dresser or nightstand reflects more light, adds more style and makes it all the more easier to get ready in the morning.

6. Bring in Fresh Flowers

Dorms are small, but the energy and joy you get from living in one doesn’t have to be! If you’re moving into a dorm for the first time, nothing will feel more welcoming than a vase of hand-picked flowers. Switch the blooms out as the weeks go by to keep you inspired – and your new dorm feeling more like home.

7. Store Essentials With a Ladder

When you’re running late for class or study sessions, being able to grab book bags, sweater and other essentials in a flash is paramount. Instead of wall hooks, try a leaning decorative blanket ladder, which will heighten the look of your room and allow you to hang more things in a smaller space.

— 4 Steps to Styling a Dorm —

3 Dorm Room Styles to Get You Back-to-Cool

To kick off back-to-school season, Living Spaces created three fresh dorm room styles, catered to the tastes of three different types of college students. Check out the easy-to-copy styles below and their special DIY projects – plus helpful tips from Living Spaces designers Cha’queza Telp and Chelsea Savala to guide you along the way.

Dorm #1: Scandinavian

Neutral Scandinavian is all about soft, comfy and cozy, on repeat. In this dorm room, our designers incorporated a bed, dresser and desk with clean lines and tapered legs to give off a mid-century modern flair – and define the softer, cozier accents.

“For students discovering their style for the first time, I would recommend starting with a plan. Write down the items that you need to complete the space, and then start with your favorite color to set the mood for your dorm. Add different textures by throwing in textured pillows or rug, as well as accessories to fit your mood. Express yourself and add things that show your personality."
“You can never go wrong with choosing a cozy calm color pallet. Neutrals is the way to go with a pop of color!” - Cha’queza Telp, Visual Stylist

DIY Dorm Room Decor: Instant Photo Display

What You’ll Need:

  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • 15-20 instant photo prints
  • Pushpins
  • Binder clips

Choose a budget and stick to it. Quality does not have to be expensive. Make every piece of furniture have a dual purpose; for example, choose pieces that have lots of storage space. Also, use plants and lights! Plants will add to your space to make it feel like an outdoor environment.

– Cha'queza Telp, Visual Stylist

One of the tricky things about styling a dorm room in neutral Scandinavian is that in such a small space, it can be hard to incorporate statement decor that doesn’t take away from the overall vibe.

Luckily, our designers came up with a clever solution: the instant photo display. To make your own:

  1. Position 10 – 15 pushpins into a wall.
  2. Tie the end of a roll of twine around one.
  3. Loop the twine around each of the others, so that it creates a grid of intersecting lines.
  4. When you get to the final pushpin, use scissors to cut off the remaining twine.
  5. Tie the last bit of the twine you’ve used to the pushpin.
  6. Using binder clips or clothespins, arrange mini snapshots of friends, family and favorite memories along the twine.

Dorm #2: Monochromatic

One of the challenges in decorating a small space is how to keep things simple, versatile and inspired. Yet for the monochromatic modern dorm, our designers managed to do just that – by sticking to a clean color palette, pops of geometrics and cozy, distressed finishes.

“For styling a dorm on a budget, scour local thrift stores for unusual decorations – and in this case, record vinyls! This also gives your style a more eclectic look because not everyone has these pieces.” - Chelsea Savala, Visual Stylist

DIY Dorm Room Decor: Record Wall

What You’ll Need: 

  • Records
  • Mounting tape

For the monochromatic modern dorm, we wanted to incorporate statement art that would add visual interest to the walls – while also serving as an expression of personal hobbies/interest. A display of vinyl records was the perfect way to do this.

To make your own display:

  1. Gather a few old vinyl records. In this dorm, we used nine to create three rows of three, but you can make the record wall as big or small as you want.
  2. Choose records based on the colors of their labels, and lay out the arrangement on the floor to plan where you want each color to be in the display.
  3. Then, use mounting tape to secure each record to the wall, and step back and marvel at your rockin’ style.
One of the best aspects about the record wall is that it adds a colorful vintage touch to a monochromatic palette – without requiring nails or leaving any sorts of marks on the walls!

Dorm #3: Boho

Boho style embodies the fun, creative and free spirit, so our designers’ number-one priority in creating the look was to keep things light and airy. Simple steps, like swapping out a traditional desk chair for a rattan chair and incorporating (lots of) flowers went a long way in making this possible.

“Don't leave your walls bare, add wall art and decor to show your personality!” - Cha’queza Telp, Visual Stylist
"Just have fun and don't be afraid to be bold with your design!" - Chelsea Savala, Visual Stylist

DIY Dorm Room Decor: Flower Wall

What You’ll Need:

  • Faux flowers
  • Mounting tape

Flowers were a big part of the process that went into creating the boho dorm, and for good reason! Breezy, natural and colorful, floral decor embodies the spirit of boho to a tee.

I think styling a dorm can be a lot of fun, and since it’s not a huge space, it’s easy to change the style as often as you wish.
– Chelsea Savala, Visual Stylist
To make your own flower wall:

  1. Look for faux flowers at a craft store, and pick out 30-40 of your favorites.
  2. In our display, we used three main colors – orange, red and white – to keep a bright, warm motif, though you can use however many colors you wish!
  3. Lay them down on your floor for a “practice” layout, and then use mounting tape to apply them to your wall in a grid arrangement.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.