The Broke Student's Guide to Dorm Decorating! - QC Design School

Heading to college is the most exciting time of your life—and so is decorating your new student dorm!

Having a personalized living space plays an important part in keeping yourself healthy and happy during your college years. Your dorm room décor should include small comforts, like photo collages and accessories. Of course, you can even decorate your room to the nines with wall tapestries and lush bedding!

Make the most out of a bland room and design your dorm décor using these clever tricks to maximize space. Bring on a stylish student lifestyle!

Decorative Bedding

In any dorm room, your bed is the most dominant piece—so keep it neat and tidy so your room feels welcoming… just like home!

Investing in a good set of sheets and a simple duvet cover allows you to adorn your bed with decorative pillows and plush blankets. Since most dorm beds are single or twin-sized (unless you’re really lucky), you can give your bed the look of a sofa. A great spot for your newfound university pals to relax on!

decorative bedding for bedroom decor

Storage Seating

One of the BEST inventions for a student dorm! It’s a quick fix for organizing a small room!

Find a storage box that doubles as a seat—you’ll be adding space to your room and giving guests an extra place to sit. Stools and ottomans are so much easier to manoeuvre than chairs. They’ll fit into your room perfectly, whether they have a storage compartment or not!


Fairy lights will turn any drab dorm room into a tranquil atmosphere for lounging and studying. Just string them up around the walls to make your room a cozy space.

When selecting lamps, look for ones that are bright but have a softer glow. Remember that LED bulbs can strain your eyes. Definitely not something you need to worry about when you’re studying for finals!

If you have a big enough window, find curtains that are sheer enough to let light in while still giving you privacy. Open your window during the day to bring in the fresh air and natural light!

Vertical Organizers

The biggest complaint you hear in a student dorm? No. Storage. Anywhere.It’s frustrating when you have out-of-season clothing taking up all of the closet space. Not to mention the zillion textbooks you need for each class that are stacked miles high.

Lack of storage leads to clutter and chaos, and usually ends with clothing and other items thrown on the floor.

But not to worry—focus on vertical storage solutions. Using storage boxes or stackable drawers, you can store upwards to keep the floor clear.

If you have space under your bed or desk to slide storage, be sure to take advantage of the extra space! Head to the nearest home store and buy containers that will fit under your furniture.

Hint: pick storage bins with wheels for easy manoeuvring!

underbed storage in dorm room

Photo Strings

Leaving for university can get emotional, and often you feel homesick or miss old friends. This trick won’t quite take you back, but it will help make your dorm feel like home!

Choose however many pictures you’d like to hang up and take a trip down memory lane! Use clothing pegs and twine, or poke holes in photo corners and string them together. All that’s left is to hang them somewhere in plain sight—you’ll feel comforted by the pictures and your room will look super cute!

Closet Door Storage

Over-the-door hooks work wonders for adding a little extra storage to your closet. Pick them up at a hardware store and use them to hang scarves, jewellery, or jackets. Keep your space looking neat by facing the hooks inside the closet. A swift step to a clutter-free room!

An extra tip for closet organization: use a small bin to store extra bedding and towels. Roll towels up and store bedsheets in their matching pillowcases for quick and cute linen storage!

Add a Rug

The harsh tiles and rough carpeting of university dorms are uncomfortable at best. Beat that boring floor with a cozy rug!

Whether you incorporate a small rug for the side of your bed or one that spans the whole room, a rug will instantly personalize your dorm room. A colorful rug will also brighten up a dull room and make you feel at home in your student quarters.

How to decorate a student dorm and interior decor for a dorm

Add Brightness

Behold the power of mirrors! They make your space feel bigger and brighter—helpful in keeping you awake to finish all those readings!

Even adding a desk mirror reflects light into your room. A thin full length mirror can be positioned vertically or horizontally to bounce more light.

If you’re living in a particularly dark dorm, some strategically placed mirrors can brighten up your space!


When you have nineteen assignments due in the same week, your room can get cluttered, fast! Create pigeonholes as a space-saver for your desk!

Use paper trays and stack them above your printer. Designate each tray to a class and keep your assignments or study notes there. Your desk will be redeemed from the chaos of midterms!

For an extra step toward desk organization, sort assignments in order of their due dates!

Get a Shoe Rack

Some expert advice: if you attend school in a city known for its harsh winters, be sure to invest in a shoe rack!

Not only will your winter boots dry that much quicker, but you won’t have to worry about muddy puddles in your dorm room.

A shoe rack can change how you feel about winters at college. Just think—no more soggy, damp, or musty shoes! Remember, keeping your floor clean is a crucial step in making your dorm a comfortable living space.

Bath giftset for decorating a student dorm

Beauty Baskets

Since most dorms have those dreaded communal showers (the phrase just makes us recoil), your dorm room design needs to counteract the icky feeling of sometimes-but-not-always-cleaned showers.

Store toiletries and towels in a personalized basket to make your trip to the showers that much more refined! Toiletry baskets are quick to put together and easy to transport. Use them to carry your shower products, loofas, and anything else you’ll need to suds up!

A handy storage unit that keeps your toiletries accessible will make dorm life feel luxurious…well, maybe not that posh. But it will make a big difference in your college lifestyle!
Add personality with fun décor and design a student dorm that feels serene. Choose items that have sentimental value to add comfort and help you feel closer to home. Your college friends will be vying to spend time in your charming room!

Do you have way too much stuff for your small room? Check out our minimalist guide to downsizing!


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