Depending on your budget, you might want to help give your teen’s college room a style upgrade from the dorm essentials that all first-year college students need. Some dorm decor extras can make any space feel cozier and more personal and reflect their unique personalities and interests.
We’ve rounded up 21 dorm decor ideas to make your dorm feel like home for the first semester and beyond. Plus, many of these items are things they’ll use all four years and can bring with them to their first apartment!
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.
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Where to Buy Dorm Bedding
Choosing a comforter and sheets is typically the first step toward picking a particular style for a dorm room, and there are dozens of sites where your teen can look.
A favorite site is Pottery Barn Teen Dorm which emphasizes quality and sustainable merchandise in its wide range of styles. Check out its new collaboration with LoveShackFancy for some adorable decor ideas.
If your teen wants to see and feel the fabrics, Target has a wide range of dorm merchandise with thousands of bricks and mortar stores. These reversible comforters offer great style, especially for the price point, and allow your teen to switch their look by simply making their bed differently.
The Best Dorm Decor
Colleges typically prohibit nails, so look for instant decor or only require adhesives (if the dorm allows that) to create a look your teen will love. Some adhesive strips are included in some decorative items, but pack Command double-sided strips and hooks when you help move your teen into their dorm.
These cute headboards solve two big problems with traditional dorm beds — an uncomfortable wall to lean back on and a 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 that friends will be jealous of.
These storage cubes are great for extra items such as medication, extra toiletries, hair dryers, towels, extra sheets, and more. It’s available in six pretty colors to make a statement as well.
Lightweight tapestries help disguise ugly dorm walls and can complement your teen’s bedding choices. This one at Pottery Barn Teen is gorgeous (and what a dreamy space if your teen needs a room divider), but there are many different styles, including sports imagery and world maps. They have loops that make them easy to attach to the wall (or ceiling) with Command Hooks.
Society6 also has an exciting and unique selection of tapestries, posters, and wall coverings designed by artists. Once your teen finds a print they like, they can choose from various sizes to cover as much of a dreary dorm wall as possible. There’s also a 25% discount for students!
Ivy garlands are very popular now — and this one has tiny lights that offer magic forest illumination. Each vine is 7 feet long and has 80 leaves for 84 feet of decorative pieces. They’re easy to hang up next to a bed and will create the perfect backdrop for photos.
These strip lights are ideal for hanging along the top corner of a dorm room to bring some serious vibes. Using the included remote control, you can change the color or connect it to a smartphone via Bluetooth to play music and control the color and brightness.
The maker makes these easy-to-install ledges of Command strips that can be fixed to walls with enclosed strips, which is great if you cannot drill into walls. Perfect for displaying photos and knickknacks, each can hold up to five pounds. Plus, they are available in different lengths and finishes.
Like tapestries, buying an oversized flag is a popular way to cover dorm walls, adding a piece of home to the room. They also become instant conversation as your son or daughter gets to know their roommate and hallmates. Fanatics offers a wide selection of officially-licensed team flags and banners for the NCAA and many pro teams.
An alternative to a headboard is this large triangular bolster pillow, which is large enough to prop up while in bed but still comfortable enough to sleep on. Think of it as an alternative to a husband’s pillow. It is available in seven colors and comes in different widths.
For an easier splash of color than applying wallpaper, check out these inexpensive dots stickers that can be easily arranged on a dorm wall. It comes in dozens of colors; you could mix and match them for a unique look!
Fans of astrology will love hanging this moon phase garland over their bed. It has 13 moons featuring every waning and waxing phase, except for the new moon. The golden color glistens and is super easy to put up.
Some of the best dorm decor are the memories you’ve made before college. Fill these ten frames with pictures of friends and family that can be hung as a gallery wall above their bed or desk. It’s a great thing to look at when they’re homesick.
Best Dorm Decor Furniture
Pottery Barn Teen has an extensive collection of area rugs, including washable ones. They’re great to cover up cold, linoleum floors and show off a little flair. Plus, they’re something your student can take to their first apartment.
Rolling carts are handy for toiletries, cleaning supplies, or almost anything. This will help your teen keep all their daily essentials organized and move them around if needed. It comes in eight fun colors and can work well in a bathroom or craft room later in life.
14. Poppin Box Seat
A storage ottoman is a handy catch-all disguised as a seat! It holds up to 275 pounds and can store towels, sheets, and more. Available in four colors, it collapses flat when not in use. The top is cushioned, so it is a comfortable place for friends to sit when they visit your teen’s dorm room.
Extra seating, for when friends drop by or when your student wants a comfy place to read, is accessible with this folding butterfly chair. Personalize with a pillow or throw blanket. This chair is available in several colors.
This storage rack can serve multiple purposes: placed between elevated beds, one of the two adjustable shelves can be used as a nightstand. A mini-fridge can fit underneath it, and the other shelf can be used for nonperishable snacks and supplies. No tools are required for assembly.
Best Desk Organization Dorm Decor
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 and supplies and has space for a few personal items, like photos or other reminders of home.
19. Ultimate Student Planner: College Edition (Class Tracker)
Class Tracker planners help students keep track of their academic life, extracurriculars, work commitments, and more. Don’t let the simple and intuitive weekly layout fool you; the patented design is based on years of research, coaching, and student input. The College Edition features a sturdy, laminated cover, weekly pages explicitly designed for student life, monthly planning pages, goal-setting pages, and more, making this a must-have tool for success.
This desk lamp features a few compartments to house pens, sticky notes, or other study supplies. Best of all, it features a USB port and phone stand for a convenient spot to recharge devices while your student works.
Personalized Dorm Decor
Another cute pillow idea comes from Pottery Barn Teen with these trendy shadows monogrammed pillow covers. You’ll need to purchase the inserts separately, but they’re easy to put on
This personalized pinboard from Pottery Barn Teen is the perfect place to hang memorable photos, flyers for upcoming campus events, and reminders. It can be outfitted with their name or sorority/fraternity for a custom study spot.
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