Making a Dorm Feel Like Home

Anyone else have parents that never let them redecorate their room? I did! When I moved into campus housing, I had my first opportunity to decorate my room from the ground up. As a veteran reader of the Magnolia Journal, watcher of HGTV, and Pinterest user, I knew just what I wanted my dorm to look like. I recognize that decorating sounds painful, expensive, and exhausting to others, so today I am writing a guide on how to make your dorm room feel like home!

Photo from Rachel Hernandez

Find your style.

Feeling stuck? Start by choosing a theme or color scheme. Going into my dorm decorating, I knew I was using a gray comforter. Loving the color teal, I chose teal and yellow as my accent colors. Having this color scheme and theme helped me choose decor items, such as picture frames and accent pillows.

Open up an internet browser and type in “dorm inspiration”. Scroll through. Note what you like, dislike, and can see yourself living in. Pay attention to how the inspiration photos make use of limited storage, blank walls, and shared spaces.

Now, close your eyes. What does your dorm look like? Write down the details. You can bring these ideas with you when you shop for your bedding and decorations. Do you see your bed lofted? Are there posters on the wall? What does the desk area look like?

Beat bare walls.

My favorite decoration in my dorm room was the photo wall above my bed. Not because it was the cutest decoration, but because my mom and I spent the summer crafting it together. When I looked at that frame, I saw more than just a decoration; I saw memories and laughs with my best friend.

One of the hardest obstacles in decorating a dorm room is covering up bare walls. For one, most dorms do not allow you to drill into the walls. The best solution for this is to use Command strips to adhere decorations to the wall. Command strips do not chip paint and can hold up to 16 pounds. The second obstacle is balance. How much is too much? How much is too little? The good news is that this is all personal preference! Below, you can see a photo of my wall. It includes elements that speak to who I am: plants, photos, sayings, and calligraphy. Fill your blank spaces with things that will make you feel relaxed, laugh, and smile!

Photo from Rachel Hernandez


The best thing you can do for a comprehensive, cohesive dorm room is communicate with your roommate! This will be the first of many decisions you and your roomie will make together.

My roommate and I decided to coordinate certain elements of our decor, but not everything. This allowed us to be flexible in our personal decoration without clashing. For example, remember that calligraphy “R” over my bed? She had a matching “C” over her bed. We both chose to use gray comforters, as well.

When people walked into our room, we wanted them to feel welcomed. Our dorm was a place for studying, relaxing, and spending time with friends. By keeping our space clean and organized, we were able to create just that!

Photo from Rachel Hernandez

Want more?

For more inspiration, check out these dorm ideas!

Photo from Rachel Hernandez


Class of 2020
I am studying Middle Grades Education with concentrations in Social Sciences and Literacy in the College of Education. Although I now reside in Champaign, I am originally from Vernon Hills, a Northwest suburb of Chicago.

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