Cardinal Rules for Dorm Decorating


Dorm Decorating Rules

When it comes to making your dorm room your new home, the best thing you can do is make it your own. By adding thoughtful, unique touches to your décor, you can create a space that is a welcoming reflection of who you are. Need a little help getting started? Here is a list of the top five cardinal rules for dorm decorating.

Monotone is Boring

When you walk into an empty dorm room, you’re probably surprised at how sterile it feels. All-white or all-cream walls with outdated tile floors and fake wood furniture make it that much worse. That’s why color is incredibly important when designing your dorm room aesthetic.

The bigger problem is using too much of one color to compensate. While you may have a favorite color that you love to work with, too much of a good thing looks just as boring as all-white. Instead, pick coordinating color schemes that play into the base. For example, add dark browns with hunter green base for a natural look. Mix pink in with purple for a stylish girly look. Combine red and black for a darker affair.

Don’t Neglect Your Windows

It can be easy to forget about your windows, especially since your college most likely provides you with some necessary cover. But like the white walls, your blinds are probably not the most attractive look you can imagine.

If your window allows, purchase a drape pole (or even use shower pole) that adjusts to the size of your window. Then, add fabric in a pop of color that ties you and your roommate’s looks together. If you’re stuck, you really can’t go wrong with a translucent white with a little bit of texture (such as lace). Add string lights and tie off using velcro and ribbon for a classic, homey feel.

Ugly Lighting Must Go

Today, fashionable dorm room décor involves starting with something a little bit fancier than the usual discount store lamps. Sure, you should have some essential bed lighting by your side for late night study session in bed, but that doesn’t mean all of your lighting has to look bland.

What we love is the vintage look. You can make any lamp look updated with a little spray paint. Take the ugliest lamp you can find and paint it a neon pink or scrub off ugly gold for a sleeker silver. Re-do the lampshade with decoupage glue and paper. When dove right, the sky’s the limit!

Focus in on Creating Space

It’s so easy to go overboard with your accessorizing. But let’s be honest — your dorm room isn’t the place for a ton of knickknacks and trophies from high school. Limit what you take when you first move in. You can always go back (or ship back) more.

Instead of loading your room up with all this needless stuff, look to create spaces your guests will love. Lay out rugs under a lofted bed and use giant throw pillows for floor seating. Use small folding leaf tables for dining and study areas. And add lighting or a change of color specific to the area to designate usage.

Don’t Forget About You

Cardinal rules are great and all, but there is something even more important when you design your room — putting a little you in it. If you’re a music major, add some framed sheet music to your wall. Love a sports team? Hang school pendants or scarves from the clubs you support. And if you’re missing home, you can turn your bedroom into an ode to your favorite city with posters and color schemes.


And don’t forget: if you’re in love with your dorm room design, OCM wants to see it! Read more about how you can win big with our #DormGoals decorating contest.

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Katherine Carpenter

Katherine Carpenter

Hi I'm Katherine! I love DIY projects, especially ones that I can use to make my dorm room pop! My favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip, especially when it's on a cone. I love hanging out with my sorority sisters and giving back to the community. Always remember to live, laugh and love!