Your dorm room is your personal place to relax, sleep, study, and hang out with friends--so of course you want it to be welcoming, comfortable, and expressive of who you are. If you feel drawn to the clean lines, bright colors, or sleek aesthetic of the city, then we have some awesome city themed dorm decor ideas for you! Whether you have one particular city in mind you’d like to recreate for your dorm-- or a modern style you’d think would work well in your dorm-- it’s easier than you think to give your dorm a city themed urban makeover.
Just follow these suggestions and you’ll be amazed at what you can pull off in a small amount of space. When you’re done, your friends might think they’re no longer on campus, but that they're amid the bustling center of New York City, Los Angeles, Paris, London, or Rome!
Choose Your Colors Wisely
Your color pallette will set the urban tone of your dorm room
What do you think of when you wonder about living in the city? Do you imagine one city in particular, or instead do you think of a series of impressions such as the colors, lights, fabrics, and noise? When designing your city dorm room, it’s always helpful to map out first how you’d like to bring your vision to life. The first item on your list should be what colors to choose for your bedding, drapes, rugs, pillows, and desk accessories. Having the right colors can really evoke a modern and edgy city feel to your room. In order to do this, it’s important that you stick with neutral colors such as black, gray, and white. Black bedding would look nice paired with sleek gray curtains and a rug. Keep your desktop accessories with this theme as well, and try to keep them centered around a minimalist style, which adds to your urban feel.
Don’t feel like you can’t add pops of color though! It’s important to break up the neutral colors with bright flashes--perhaps a pillow or a blanket in electric pink, blue, or green would complement your muted tones. Any other items such as a chair or additional storage should stay in either a neutral white or gray color, that way when you look at the room as a whole, it looks like it could easily be a part of a downtown metro area full of skyscrapers!
Choose to concentrate on the essentials from one city, or decide to include a couple of elements from a region. Image courtesy of Amazon.
Either Stick with One City, or Choose to do a Region
Avoid cluttering up your dorm with too many city themes
Next on your list after you’ve decided on the color palette for the essential items in your dorm room, you’ll want to decide if you want to evoke the general feeling of an urban city, try to bring out aspects of one city in particular, or choose to incorporate themes from a couple of different cities.
If you really like the modern, urban feel of a generic cityscape, that’s a fantastic idea for a theme. Going off of your basic black, white, and gray colors, you can add all kinds of sleek, modern touches to your room. For inspiration, it might be helpful to check out some futuristic and urban-inspired movies such as Blade Runner (and its sequel Blade Runner 2049) or Tron: Legacy to get that chic industrial touch. These movies utilize a lot of neon or LED style lights, which you can put into your dorm room as well, either as accent lights, a desk lamp, or even a neon sign on your wall. Any way you can incorporate chrome--whether as desktop accessories, furniture, or silver accent pillows-- will also enhance the futuristic feel of your city dorm room.
If you decide you’d like to stick to one city theme, you may want to do a little research to find out what exactly seems to catch your attention about this city--and what about it makes you feel at home. Look to see what types of architecture are present--is there a nice balance between modern and classical, or does it lean to one style over the other? How old is the city and are there other historical influences that you can draw from? Look at some of the famous places in your chosen city online (or visit it if you can)-- whether that’s a building, a plaza, a bridge, or a certain area of town-- there is inspiration just waiting to be gleaned from those images.
If you’d rather have a host of cities reflected in your dorm room, that can be done as well. You just want to make sure you don’t end up with a cluttered and confused mess. Again, starting with your neutral color scheme, you can choose instead to focus on a collection of cities, but try to focus on a region--Europe, U.S., Asia, etc. When you have a theme, say London, Paris, Rome, you can choose to concentrate on the classical European attributes that those cities offer. Or if you’d prefer Asian, focus on the skylines or Asian architecture of Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. This will really tie the room together and keep your space from looking like a random display of cities.
Lighting Goes a Long Way
Enhance your city theme with the right lighting
Including the bright lights of the city into your dorm room is an essential part of keeping with your urban-inspired vibe. Depending on how you choose to focus your dorm room--generic cityscape, one city, or multi-city theme--will influence what type of lighting you’ll use. If you want a modern approach and one that would mimic the sights of New York City for example, you’ll want to go with neon or LED lighting. These are reminiscent of the bright advertising displays of Times Square. If you prefer, choose instead to evoke the bright Broadway lights of New York with white bulbs that you can string from the ceiling, or line across your loft to complete the “Broadway lights” look.
If you chose instead to focus on Paris, or a few European cities, you might want to change your lighting to one that evokes cafe culture--as these are an iconic part of many European cities. Stringing cafe-inspired lights are a great way to ensure that your room gives off this city vibe. You could also choose to have some accent lights--whether floor lamps or desk lamps-- that evoke the street lights of Paris or London. A Tiffany-style desk lamp would also make a nice touch here, and would evoke the “Old World” feel of Paris.
Wall Art and Posters
Turn your room into beautiful city
Wall art and posters are an important step in bringing your city themed dorm to life. One of the most creative ways to bring your favorite city to life is to recreate its skyline in washi tape. This type of tape is super easy to use and to tear, and it won’t leave a residue on your walls either! The skyline of New York City is instantly recognizable by many people, but don’t feel like you have to limit yourself. Seattle, Paris, Hong Kong, Chicago, and Dubai all have very recognizable skylines that would feel right at home in your urban enclave.
Another way to incorporate your city theme is to get a few posters of your favorite parts of your one (or couple of) city/cities that you want to highlight. Photos of cities at night give off a particularly sleek look, so consider making that your theme as well. (Bonus: they will look amazing with your dark neutral color palette as well!)
Incorporate Landmarks and Architecture
Surround yourself with decor items reflecting your favorite city
In addition to adding some cool skylines to your dorm walls, it’s also a good idea to incorporate some of the famous landmarks or structures into your cityscape room. If you’re going for a London theme, you might want to get a poster, pillow, or decal that states “Mind the Gap” from the London tube system. You can’t go wrong with the iconic “I Heart NY” as a part of your NYC themed room either. If you’re evoking Paris in your room, it’s essential that the Eiffel Tower is included somewhere as well--whether as a poster, decal, or small addition to your desktop. If you’re going for a more generic urban feel, then perhaps include posters of modern structures from your favorite cities of the future--whether from movies, TV, or books. Sleek cityscapes either in black and white or monochrome will instantly transport you to an urban state of mind.
Whether you choose to highlight the aesthetic of one particular city, or just want to add a little more urban coolness to your dorm, you can’t go wrong with these tips. All it takes is a little creative inspiration, and you can transform your dorm into your own personal cityscape! Does your dorm room have a city theme? Let us know in the comments!