College is the perfect place for self-discovery, creative expression, and new beginnings. That idea extends to your dorm room. If you’re a new or returning student living on campus, your dorm room should be your oasis of refuge in a sea of activity.
So why not make the most of your little corner of the world? Though most dorm rooms comprise a modest 180 square feet (or smaller) of concrete walls and overhead lighting, your dorm is still your space. And there are plenty of money-saving DIY decor ideas to enhance an entire dorm room or just your half. From lighting ideas to glow up your space to simple and sustainable accent pieces, below are 25 DIY dorm room decor ideas you can try.
25 DIY dorm room decor ideas
With a range of easy and affordable dorm room design tips, you can transform a blank, uninspiring canvas into your masterpiece. Each DIY suggestion below takes into account your busy student lifestyle.
1. Add a dash of green
When you’re a student living on campus, you might spend a lot of time looking at textbooks and classroom walls. A splash of nature in your living space is an excellent way to breathe new life into the great indoors. By draping synthetic vines on the wall behind your bed or adding some hanging air plants, you can quickly create your dream space.
2. Transform a basket into a nightstand
The basket-to-nightstand transformation is a DIY dorm decor project ideal for tight quarters. All you’ll need is a compact wastebasket with cut-out geometric shapes and a piece of wood. Then, simply attach the wood to the top of the bin, and voila: nightstand.
3. Create your own universe with new lighting
Dorm rooms often come with uninspiring, harsh fluorescent lighting. Sure, you might get lucky with natural light during the day, but a relaxing nighttime environment is just as important. Late at night, when you’re studying one last time for that final exam, try immersing yourself in the awe-filled wonder of the cosmos.
Dim ambient lighting and a tabletop projector can catapult you into a universe of knowledge. The Sky Lite Evolve is a great example. It sits snug at the edge of your desk and immerses your whole room in colorful nebulas and twinkling stars. It transports you away from college life, right from your study space, and it lasts long after your academic lifetime.
Sky Lite Evolve: Smart Galaxy Projector
The latest evolution in smart galaxy lighting.
4. Feature your Instagram feed
You probably already use Instagram to document the goings-on of your day-to-day life—and your curated feed is likely chock-full of pics. So print out several of your favorite photos, separate them evenly on the wall, and recreate your feed with a brightly colored washi tape border.
5. Clothesline string of photos
If your Instagram wall art isn’t quite capturing every moment you wish to display, try a clothesline string of your favorite photos instead. This room decor tip is also great since it doesn’t involve tools or break any dorm room violations. Just grab a spool of twine, thumbtacks (or washi tape for added color), clothespins, and those precious snapshots to remind you of loved ones.
6. Tassel garland
Similar to a photo string, a tassel garland is an easy way to take up space on the wall with a single piece of thread. And if you’ve hung your photo string, you can use your leftover twine, colorful tissue paper, and washi tape for a decorative accent piece. Through a series of folds and strategic scissor cuts, you’ll come up with a highly cost-effective piece of dorm decor.
7. Fairy light mason jar
The mason jar aesthetic has become quite popular in recent years, and so have fairy lights. This easy DIY project uses both for a trendy display piece. Fill an empty mason jar with battery-powered twinkling lights to evoke the whimsy of catching lightning bugs on hot summer nights. Plus, why stop at one when it’s that easy? You can line your shelves with all kinds of fairy light decor.
8. DIY bookends
The life of a college student is rife with books—science textbooks, the next great American novel, you name it. When books abound, you can organize them with a touch of character that adds a pop of color and style to your dorm room. For this simple DIY project, pick up two bricks for a few cents at your local hardware store. Then, paint them white and spray paint over the dried white with your desired colors. Place all your favorite books between your bricks.
9. DIY shoe rack
A space-saving shoe rack is ideal when working within the confines of a small dorm room. Instead of throwing your shoes in a heap under the bed, arrange them neatly in a shoe rack made of cardboard.
Cut out individual pieces of cardboard, then tape them together into a triangular tube. You can create as many slots as you like and attach them to a sheet of cardboard before stacking another row on top. You can paint the cardboard too for a deft personal touch. Once you’re done, put your shoes in their slows for DIY dorm room decor that’s both functional and fun.
10. Funky chore chart
Just because you’re working with a small space doesn’t mean you and your roommates won’t need to do a little tidying up on occasion. When it comes to delegating tasks, like taking out the trash or sweeping the floor, a whimsical chore chart can make mundane housework enjoyable.
Try playing around with a spinning wheel made of cardboard and a pushpin to decide which chore you’ll take on today. A dry-erase board full of zany colors can be a fun option too. Plus, you can put a sheet on your door with colored stars to exhibit your feats of cleanliness—and who doesn’t love a gold star?
11. Washi tape shelf edging
If you haven’t already picked up on the versatility of washi tape, this decorative tape made of rice paper is practical and eye-catching. In other words, it’s perfect for dorm room embellishments. If your room has preinstalled shelves, try adorning them with some washi tape geometric designs on the edges.
12. Galaxy bottles
Longing to capture a slice of the universe in a jar? Well then, this dorm room project is for you. Grab some friends for a night of crafting with a few empty glass jars and some cotton balls, glitter, and dye. The swirly galaxy bottles you create will look stunning on your desk or shelves, transporting you to tranquility with each glance.
Your bottles can range in size or shape to create a unique visual effect of grouped jars on your walls. They’re also just one of many DIY galaxy decor ideas.
13. Positive affirmation post-its on the mirror
A lot of dorm rooms come with a full-length mirror on the back of the door or by the entryway on the wall. Adding a few brightly colored post-its to these mirrors makes for great dorm decor. Writing aspirational messages on these post-its is even better. It’s a fantastic way to add a sprinkle of positivity to your day. If your room lacks a mirror, you can always place these notes on the door to inspire you.
14. Peel-and-stick LED lights
Peel-and-stick LED lights are another damage-free addition to your space. This vibrant (often color-changing) lighting technique is another way to cultivate that perfect late-night study environment. You can also use your LED strips to transform your room’s colors and set just the right vibe. Now, imagine some low-fi music playing in the background, and you’ve got a study space that beats a late night at the library.
A great LED strip for the job is the BlissGlow. This stick-and-peel light can shine a dozen colors at once, and you can control it from your phone or via the strip’s integrated controller. It also includes four music-responsive modes to match your study sounds and elevate your experience beyond the everyday. With the BlissGlow, you can take your studying further than ever before.
15. Record wall display
Spruce up your space with wall art that’s sure to have everyone admiring your creativity. With a few cheap (maybe slightly scratched) records, you can create an unforgettable accent wall in your dorm. This vintage-inspired wall art is also a breeze to assemble (and damage-free to deconstruct) thanks to the staying power of sticky tack.
16. Tapestry headboard
The tapestry is a college dorm room staple. When you think of college, you might conjure an image of a dimly lit room with a single psychedelic tapestry thrown across the bedside wall. But you can defy convention with a tapestry headboard. To start, find a tapestry that speaks to you or snag a bit of fabric that you can tie-dye or bleach dye. Then, cut it into the right size for the wall behind your bed, hang it up, and instantly give your dorm room more character.
17. Accent DIY throw pillows
If you already have a throw pillow, why not give it a DIY upgrade? With leftover fabric from your tapestry headboard, you can fashion a new pillowcase with a few quick stitches. And if you can’t sew, no problem. Just take a larger piece of fabric, wrap it around the pillow, and neatly tie it in the back.
18. Create a memo board with garden mesh
At this point, you might have already stopped at your local hardware store for a few supplies. The next time you go back, pick up some garden mesh for an intriguing memo board. The slots of the garden mesh are perfect for attaching various memos with clips.
19. Washi tape wall art
Once again, another dorm room use for washi tape: wall art. Using different colors of your decorative tape, arrange some strips on your wall in playful geometric shapes and patterns. Doing so is a great way to incorporate your artistic talents into a space without causing any damage to the walls. Plus, you can use the tape on your door too for another burst of color.
20. Galaxy desk lamp
Take a cheap desk lamp and transform a boring light fixture into something spectacular. All you need is acrylic paints, a few sponge brushes (or even a cut-up sponge), a sealer, and some masking tape. You’ll come out with a striking set of overlapping, star-studded colors that gives your dorm room a whole new dimension.
21. Use flowers and wire to spell out words
Most craft stores or dollar stores sell fake flowers and wire, so make use of both those items for an easy DIY craft. Try incorporating positive words or sayings around your room by twisting your faux fauna around the easily bendable wire.
22. Your name in lights
Let’s say you love the flower and wire idea but you’re a bit more drawn to the nighttime spectacle of quality lighting. In that case, writing your name in lights will do just the trick. Using fairy lights, arrange tacks on the intended wall space in the shape of your name or your favorite phrase, and then pin the lights.
23. Polaroid photo wall
Polaroids already encapsulate that vintage aesthetic, so arrange them on a wall by your bed or desk for an enticing throwback vibe. This project can be ongoing, too: Keep taking pictures with your instant camera and adding them to the wall to grow your memory board.
24. Transform old magazines into wall art
When you have a blank wall, it’s begging for decoration. You can use old magazines and poster boards to transform this unexciting space into an intriguing collage. This cool crafting experience is even more fun with some friends helping out. Plus, you’ll be reusing paper, which makes it a win for the environment (and keeping your trash bin from overflowing).
25. Recycled storage bins
Speaking of sustainability, recycling a storage bin can make for a savvy DIY dorm room decor project. Storage bins come in all shapes and sizes, making them great for holding pens, papers, or other miscellaneous items. You can look beyond storage bins to other containers, too. An empty jam jar, for example, is great for storing writing utensils. As always, be sure to add your own unique touch with paint or cheerful stickers.
Light up your dorm room the DIY way with BlissLights
With all these DIY design tips and tricks, you’ll be all set to make your dorm feel like home. You’ll have an easier time feeling cozy and getting as much rest as possible to power your brain for the days of learning ahead. Lighting should be part of your DIY dorm decor too, especially colorful, effect-heavy lights such as BlissLights. Browse the BlissLights indoor collection to find aesthetic, affordable lights that bring the universe right to your dorm.
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