Dorm Decor: How to Help Your Freshman Create the Cutest Dorm Room Ever (2021)

Depending on your budget you might want to help give your teen’s dorm room a style upgrade. Here are some extras which can make any dorm feel cozier and a bit more personal. Note: Check the Residence Life section of the college website to find out what items are prohibited before making a mistake on a decor purchase.

Favorite Dorm Decor Ideas

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No Nails Decor

Colleges typically do not let students hammer nails into dorm walls so look for decor that uses adhesives, if the dorm allows those) to create a look that your teen will love. Some of the adhesive strips are included in the following decorative items and, if you’re allowed to use them, bring Command double sided strips and hooks along with your toolbox when you move your teen in.

These are decorating touches that can help transfer a dorm room from a dreary cell into a happy space where your student can start to begin their college life.


Your teen can create a montage of pics from home – family, friends and furry best friend – and mount on their wall in the dorm.

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Smart Headbord

These cute headboards solve two big problems with dorm beds – an uncomfortable wall to lean back on and lack of a covenant plug to charge electronics. Stylish and functional, this smart headboard would be a much appreciated addition to your teen’s dorm room.

State Corkboard

Your teen can show their state pride and have a cute platform for decorating their wall with a corkboard in the shape of their state.

state cork board

Wall Organizer

Staying organized in a tiny shared space is a challenge for most students, and this organizer can be a big help. Pair it with a matching pinboard for notes, photos and more for a very stylish look with great functionality. Both mount with 3M double sided adhesive strips (included.)


Lightweight tapestries help disguise ugly dorm walls and can be stylish complements to whatever bedding choices your teen makes. This one is gorgeous (and what a dreamy space if your teen needs a room divider) but there are so many different styles to choose from including sports imagery and world maps. They have loops that make it easy to attach to the wall (or ceiling) with Command Hooks.


This world map tapestry could be a conversation starter with roommates who are just meeting as well as inspiration for a possible study abroad program someday.

String Lights

String lights add warmth to drab dorm walls and these globe lights will look pretty with any decor concept.

globe lights

Garland With Lights

Ivy garlands are very popular now and this one has tiny lights which offers a type of magic forest illumination.

LED Strip Lights

These come with a remote control and can be synched to music via bluetooth.

LED lights

Display Ledge

These easy-to-install ledges are made by the maker of Command strips and can be fixed to walls with enclosed strips. They are available in different lengths and finishes.

ledge shelf


Buying oversize flags are a great way to cover dreary dorm walls and they become instant conversation items as your son or daughter gets to know their roommate and hallmates. Here is how one Grown and Flown student decorated their room. Check out Fanatics for a wide selection of officially-licensed team flags and banners for NCAA and many pro teams.

boys dorm room

Sheet Sets

Poppy & Fritz make whimsical sheets for twin XL beds. Avocado, llamas, donuts are some of the cute designs….along with crisp blue and white stripes. Here is a sample but the pup is not included!

sheet selection

Butterfly Chair

Extra seating, for when friends drop by or when your student wants a comfy place to read, is made easy with this folding butterfly chair. Start with a basic color and personalize with a pillow or blanket.

butterfly chair

Elevated Storage Rack

This storage rack can serve multiple purposes: placed between elevated beds, one of the two adjustable shelves can be used a night stand. A mini-fridge can fit underneath it and the other shelf can be used for non perishable snacks and supplies. No tools required for assembly.

fridge shelving

Desk Hutch

If your teen’s college desk does not have a bookcase or storage unit on top, this is a great addition. A desk hutch can store books, supplies, and has space for a few personal items, like photos or other reminders of home.

desk hutch

Rolling Cart

This cute little cart is one of the most versatile dorm items on the list. It can be used for makeup, or snacks and paper towels, mugs etc. and works equally well for storage in a bathroom as it does in a dorm room.  Available in four colors.

rolling cart

Vinyl Peel-and-Stick Decals

For an easy splash of color, take a look at these inexpensive dots that can be easily arranged on a dorm wall. Comes in dozens of colors.

vinyl stickers

Photo Display

Decorate with photos from home with this cute frame set that comes with clips to hang favorite photos.

photo display

Bed Shelf

Another popular idea for creating a nightstand for an elevated bed is this shelf that attaches to the bed stand.

dorm bed shelf

Area Rugs

Dorms are small but that doesn’t mean you can’t cover up the grimy old floor with a nice matching rug. Bed, Bath, & Beyond offers an easy way to pick a durable area rug in the color, multiple size, and desired material. (puppy not included.) Pottery Barn Teen also has an excellent selection of area rugs including washable rugs.

area rug

Personalized Touches

Look at how elegant this student’s dorm room looks with the cutout monogram hung above her bed? It can be painted (and repainted) to match her decor choices. Here’s where you can find a wide selection of a single initial or three.

initials on wall


Buying matching pillows with each roommate’s initial can coordinate a dorm room in one simple step.

initial pillow

Laundry Solutions

Your teen may want to find out how far the laundry facilities are before deciding on a bag, hamper or duffle. There is a huge selection and some can match the color scheme of the room.  Others, like this lightweight, nylon hamper, can hang on the back of a door or, possibly, on the end of the bed.

hangable laundry hamper

Plug-in Air Sanitizer

While not necessarily a decorating idea, this small plug-in device is an air purifier and sanitizer, and eliminates germs and mold with UV-C light.

air purifier

More dorm decor ideas from the G&F community

Print out photos and hang them along a string on the wall.

Add an oversized cutout monogram and think about buying one for each roommate.

Check out Pinterest for ideas.

Buy inexpensive frames and put pictures of friends in each one. Hang on walls with Command Strips.

Pillows, pillows, and more pillows!

Coordinate with future roommate on the color scheme.

Order a life-sized pet pillow of the dog or cat back home.

Get an over-the-bed storage unit and color-coordinated storage bins to slip into it.

Update an old comforter with new throw pillows.

Splurge on a mattress topper.

Use a giant stuffed animal as a guest chair.

A body pillow makes the room and bed comfy.

If you use a duvet cover over a comforter, it is easy to remove and wash.

Bed, Bath and Beyond, Urban Outfitters, Home Goods, Pottery Barn Teens, Etsy, and Dormify are all great resources.

You Might Also Want to Read:

Favorite College Dorm Room Ideas – Adorable and Easy

The 12 Things All Freshmen Need to Bring to College

College Checklist: The Most Popular Freshmen Dorm Extras

The cutest dorm ideas are right here. Your college freshman will love hanging out in his or her dorm room with these fun organization and decor ideas for her first college dorm. #freshmanyear #college #collegedorm #dormideas #dormdecor #Diydorm #collegelife #dormroom #dormorganization #organizationideas

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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