College dorm checklists can be overwhelming, but SPY is here to make the big move a little less nerve-wracking. There are a ton of dorm room decor essentials that every student needs, from organizational hacks to charming and functional decor. Living in a small space and knowing how to make the most of it can be tough — especially if you have a roommate.
If you haven’t lived in a residence hall before, talk to a current student about what to pack, what the room setup might look like and what items might potentially be banned, like microwaves and fridges of certain dimensions. Once you understand the general setup, you can find dorm room decor ideas that will make you feel right at home.
If you have too much on your plate to tackle DIY dorm design right away, create some ambiance with these hacks instead. It’s never too early to plan ahead on your dorm room decor shopping list. Create a relaxing vibe in your tiny abode with this list of carefully curated goodies that will turn a basic dorm room into a dream apartment.
And if you’re in back-to-school shopping mode, then we’ve got tons of great shopping guides for college students who want to create the ultimate stylish dorm room. After shopping our dorm room decor hacks, round out your shopping with these popular items:
- Stylish Neon Signs for Home Decor
- Best Photo Printers for Photo Walls
- Our Favorite Art Prints for Home Decor
- The Best Futons for Dorm Rooms
- Workout Gear for Small Apartments & Dorms
White Brick Removable Peel and Stick Wallpaper
When you can’t paint your walls, go for the next best thing: self-adhesive wallpaper. Wallpapers can be bought in a variety of colors and patterns, but white brick is the perfect way to keep things neutral but stylish without being too busy or taking over the room.
Kaidence 20.5” Desk Lamp With Wireless Charger
Two things that are are usually by your bed during a study sesh? A reading light and your phone charger. Reduce the clutter and combine those two devices with this modern desk lamp that doubles as decor and a wireless phone charger base. Users assure that the charger works flawlessly, even with a thick phone case.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera
Your college years will be one of the most memorable times in your life, and those memories deserve more than an iPhone selfie. Instead, use this Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Camera to print out your photos in a wall collage. And this cam is cute enough to count as decoration itself, making it one of our favorite dorm room decor hacks for new college students.
Kate and Laurel Trygg Rustic Leaning Ladder Mirror
Full-length mirrors can be useful, but they take up a lot of space. This leaning ladder mirror is the ultimate dorm room decor idea. With its natural finish, it has a vintage-inspired shabby chic look but is still completely contemporary. It can be leaned anywhere (no mounting required) and the lower rungs mean an extra home for towels, blankets and hangers.
Rainbow Neon Sign
Looking for dorm room decor ideas that will literally light up your world? Then smash that “Add To Cart” button before this adorable rainbow neon sign goes out of stock. This neon sign is the perfect way to broadcast positive vibes and show off your pride in your new home away from home. And for just $40, it’s an affordable dorm room decor hack that will make you the envy of your friends.
Crescent Moon Wall Shelf
Spice up your wall with this wooden crescent moon wall shelf that can hold miniature plants, jewelry, makeup, keys and other essentials. It’s a functional piece of decor that will help you stop losing all the tiny things that are so frustrating to look for when you’re running late to class.
Modern Home Solution Gold & Black Wall Outlet Extension Cord
Almost every dorm room requires an extension cord, but the usual gray cord can be an eyesore. Turn your charging stations into a work of art with this black and gold outlet extension cord by Modern Home Solutions. A dorm room decor idea that’s 100% functional.
VASAGLE Industrial Pipe Style Rolling Garment Rack
When a dresser is space-consuming and your closet isn’t enough, consider a stylish clothing rack that also adds a design element to any space, like this portable pipe-style rolling rack. It has a shelf on the bottom for shoes while keeping clothes wrinkle-free, along with letting you see what clothing and outfit combinations are possible for the day.
HollyHOME Folding Metal Side Table
Folding tables are practical when it comes to saving space, but they can really cheapen up a room. This folding metal side table by HollyHOME, on the other hand, acts as an accent piece that can hold snacks, accessories and food or drinks during mealtime.
USB Fairy String Lights With Remote and Power Adaptor
Fairy lights add the ultimate vibe to any dorm room decor, warming it up for instant coziness. These waterproof lights can be plugged into a USB port and are made of a sturdy but flexible wire on which the LED bulbs sit. They can bend and wrap around items, and allow you to control brightness, on/off functions and flashing speed with a remote control.
Love-KANKEI Wood Picture Photo Frame for Wall Decor
This is a classic dorm room decor hack for a reason. Use the photos from your Instax (or any other camera) to hang memories on this picture photo frame. It has 30 clothespin-style clips and is a fantastic choice if you want your loved ones to surround you rather than wall art or posters. Suitable for vertical and horizontal mounting.
Terrazzo 4-Part Organizer
Keeping an organized desk is no easy feat, which is why we love dorm room decor ideas that are stylish and functional. Users love the ceramic texture and heavy weight of this organizer, which looks expensive and stays sturdy.
Frigidaire Retro Compact Refrigerator With Freezer
A mini fridge can be useful for housing leftovers drinks or skincare products. This Frigidaire retro fridge features an attractive aesthetic and cool silver handles. It includes an ice cube tray and a “Dispense-A-Can” compartment, along with spill-proof glass shelves that can be removed and cleaned.
KIMODE Moroccan Cotton Area Rug
Spruce up your dull dorm floor with this woven rug, which one reviewer calls “soft enough to nap on.” It’s better than a more plush option since you can easily clean off crumbs and messes, and the muted, subtle Moroccan print adds a bohemian chic to any area. Pair with a rug pad so it doesn’t slide around.
Jaxx Cocoon Bean Bag Chair
Say hello to the mother of all bean bags. With an impressive 6-foot diameter, this Atlanta-made beast could easily become your second bed. Great for friends who love to crash or cozy times with your partner, the shredded foam filling provides all the support you need. Just make sure you set an alarm if you decide a take a quick snooze.
Digital Alarm Clock With Wooden Electronic LED Time Display
Waking up late for class is the worst. This elegant wooden smart alarm clock stops that from happening. Not only does this ultramodern clock display the time in LED, but it also lets you set two or three alarms to ensure you wake up on time. There’s even a temperature and humidity display.
Sophia’s Garden Artificial Succulent Plants With Pots
Plants are a fantastic decor element to brighten up your residence, but taking care of them is another story. Fake plants can sometimes look cringe-worthy, but these artificial succulents in rustic containers are textured for added realism, so no one can tell they’re fake.
Versanora Marble/Brass Computer Desk With Metal Base
If your dorm room doesn’t include a desk, it can be a headache to fit one in your room. Consider this space-saving marble and brass computer desk with a metal base. It’s sturdy with x-shaped metal support, and assembling it is a breeze. Welcome to your new study haven.
Threshold 14″ x 14″ Wood Letterboard
This stylish letterboard is a must-have for college students. Available in a ton of fun colors, this dorm room essential makes it easy to leave reminders for yourself or write out inspirational quotes. This simple dorm room hack makes it easy to add a touch of your personality to your new room.
Ruthie Velvet Floor Pillow
When you can’t fit an entire couch into your dorm room and a bean bag chair is slightly too retro, consider this velvet floor pillow. Choose from black, green, lilac or gold — or buy all four colors for a dreamy socializing set.
Elesse Duvet Set
Those generic, solid-toned colors that Twin XL bedding usually comes in can look basic and take over your room, making it look drab. Instead, invest in this cozy Elesse duvet set, available in rust. The timeless pattern matches a range of styles, and the lightweight material is easy to wash.
Nolimas 2-Pack Matte Black Hooks
There’s nothing more hideous than those plastic white Command hooks, but the attractive-looking hooks often need to be installed in the wall itself, which isn’t always possible in dorm rooms. The solution? These cute, matte black hooks use adhesive technology and mount anywhere. Easy to remove but with a permanent appearance, they’re both practical and stylish.
Bestip Laundry Basket
Pop-up laundry hampers look cheap and are often flimsy. But this waterproof canvas hamper has extended leather handles, and the crisp geometric print means you don’t have to hide it in the closet.
Melina Shaggy Backrest Faux Fur Pillow Cover & Insert
For study sessions on the ground or in bed, this shaggy backrest lounge cushion is essential. It has a pocket for writing utensils, glasses or phones. The shaggy finish is luxurious, and it doesn’t take up the space of a traditional chair, keeping you properly aligned while letting you relax upright.
Dosmix Retro Bluetooth Speaker
A good Bluetooth speaker is essential for dorm life, and there’s no better way to listen to your favorite tunes than on this retro-style, desk-friendly radio. A natural wood construction means a crisper sound, and the Bluetooth has an impressive range.
Giyano 4-Panel Wood Frame Screen Room Divider
For those times when a curtain just doesn’t do it, consider a screen room divider, which is one of the best dorm room decor hacks. Room dividers can help create multiple areas in a single room, which is helpful for designating sleep and study zones. It’s also a way to get a little more privacy for roommates. This one is made of rice paper and features a striking geometric pattern and is available in four colors.
Ansel Glass Table Lamp
Illuminate any space with this gorgeous glass table lamp featuring soft lines. Available in a range of colors, this top-rated lamp brings a vintage air to the room while providing a softly diffused light. Each lamp is handmade, resulting in a one-of-a-kind product with heirloom quality. Customers appreciate that it puts out the perfect amount of light and is desktop-sized.
Alana Storage Console
It’s not as cheap as some of the items on our list, but this storage console will last eons beyond those dorm room years. With a mid-century-inspired design, this console is available in black or white. Its open-concept shelving is perfect for showcasing plants, books, lamps and any other decor pieces else you’d like to put on display.
Faux Monstera Leaves Trio
Not all dorm rooms allow live plants, and this is the ultimate minimalist replacement for any live or faux plant you can think of. As opposed to living in a pot, this trio of individual stems can be placed in a vase with or without water. They add a polished look to any room and the leaves are made from a bendable wire, letting you style and arrange them to your heart’s desire.
Plus Faux Fur Throw Blanket
Fleece blankets are cozy, but there’s nothing better than snuggling up under some high-quality faux fur during movie night or a study sesh. This throw blanket is available in several realistic colors and textures. If purchased in a larger size, it can even be used as bedding, making it a functional piece of dorm room decor. Fits with a range of sofa styles and accent pillows.
Andecor Fluffy Shag Rug
When a threadbare rug isn’t plush enough to sit on, opt for a higher pile area carpet like this shag rug, available in 10 different colors and multiple sizes. Despite the fuzzy texture, it’s easy to vacuum. One college student comments, “I didn’t have high hopes for this rug because of the cheap price, but I was amazed when I unrolled it. It’s so soft and a good size. “
Crowned Printed Hanging Storage Bags
Shoe organizers and drop-down fabric storage bags often have a plain, canvas look that’s best hidden in closets. But you’ll be proud to showcase these collapsible hanging organizers thanks to their sharp geometric pattern in black and white. They come with a wooden bar and cotton rope, adding style and making them easier to hang. No matter where they’re hung, these waterproof storage solutions help you stay organized and look good while doing it.
Pooqla LED Marquee Letter Lights Sign
Haven’t you always wanted to see your name in lights? Make it a reality with these LED light-up letters, which allow you to pick out your initials, spell out your name or arrange a phrase of your choice. They add soft lighting to a room and double as decor with a keyhole slot in the back for easy hanging. They’re battery-powered, so don’t worry about messy wires.
Carlo Marble and Brass Wall Clock
Even though the whole world seems to have gone digital, consider this minimalist marble and brass wall clock from CB2. Its striking aesthetic has an expensive look and can remind forgetful students to stay on time. One customer warns that it is heavy, so it should be hung securely when being wall-mounted.
BESAMENATURE Artificial Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree
If those faux monstera deliciosa stems are too sparse for you, consider this more substantial artificial fiddle leaf fig tree. Realistic enough to look at home with live plants, this trendy fiddle leaf is ideal for students who don’t have a green thumb or aren’t allowed to keep real plants in their room. Delivered with a weighted base in a stylish woven basket that matches all interiors.
Mahli Galaxy Essential Oil Diffuser
Cut the stress and soothe the senses with a USB-powered essential oil diffuser that looks as great as it smells. With a domed silhouette, color-changing LED lights and a shiny metallic finish, this relaxing diffuser utilizes ultrasonic waves to circulate all of your favorite essential oils, from lavender to eucalyptus. Shoppers enjoy the heavy, weighted feel of this glass diffuser, making it a premium accessory and a top contender for the best dorm room decor.
Willetton the Elephant Shelf Sitter Figurine
Stacks of textbooks and other literature are bound to pile up in your dorm room, so turn them into a piece of decor with the help of this adorable little guy. Cast in designer resin, this detailed piece is hand-painted to bring out the wrinkles, and it can be placed absolutely anywhere. It’s also a fantastic conversation-starting figurine for any potential visitors.