While it may be a temporary living space that you share with several other roommates, your dorm room is still your home for the rest of the year at school. There’s something about intentionally setting up and decorating a space that can turn any sort of living situation into a place you feel safe and like you belong.
But what’s a college student to do? Money can be tight, so it’s not like you can make your dorm room look like a special episode on HGTV. Or can you…? We’ve put together a list of some clever dorm room hacks to help you make your space feel like you, as well as function in creative ways. Whether you’re looking for decorating tips, creative hacks, or you’re simply looking for some innovative ways to switch things up, we’ve got some ideas for you.
Dorm room hacks and decor ideas to try
1. Chalkboard paint
Chances are good that you won’t be allowed to paint the walls of your dorm room, but that doesn’t mean you can’t paint your own furniture. Try slathering some of this cool paint on the surface of your kitchen table or on a bookshelf. Purchase some colorful chalk, and wah-lah! You’ll have a creative spot for writing notes to your roommates, drawing pictures, listing inside jokes, and writing out reminders for yourself.
2. Clothesline picture holder
Not allowed to hammer nails into your dorm-room walls? Try this alternative way to displaying your pictures. Using hooks or whatever else you’re allowed to put up on your wall, fasten a clothesline across your wall (or a few clotheslines) and then add some clothespins. You can hang pictures, notecards, mementos—just about anything—from the lines. It’s quick and easy and does a great job of covering a large amount of wall space in a short amount of time.
3. Experimental lighting
Lighting can make or break a room, and one way to liven things up (or soften them) is with creative lighting. Drape white twinkle lights around your window or desk, invest in crazy-colored porch lights, or shop for a cool, glowy lamp that makes the whole room a different color. Instead of using the harsh, overhead lights, invest in bulbs that will soften the room and make everything feel cozy or fun.
4. Hide the cords
Between kitchen appliances, phone chargers, bathroom hot tools, and computer chargers, there’s bound to be a lot of cords tangled together in your room. Stash them away by creating a shoebox charging strip. You can leave space for the cords to still attach to their appropriate devices, but they won’t look like a tangled jumble lying on the floor or desk anymore. When you live in a small space like a dorm room, easy fixes to hiding messes is well worth the effort!
5. Loft your bed for more storage space
This might be the norm at your college, but just in case it isn’t, lofting your bed can make for a lot of usable space underneath. You can double beds into bunk beds, store containers and clothes beneath your bed, or—depending on how high you can station your bed—even put a couch and TV down there. Lofting your bed can create room for a whole new space, and it might enable you to create a small living-room area that you may have thought you didn’t have room for.
6. Fold and hang your clothes differently
Space is in high demand when you’re sharing a closet or even a dresser with roommates. Find some new ways to fold and hang your clothes—like these—to maximize on storage space and fit more in small areas. Not only will you find you more room to fit your clothing and belongings, but it will feel refreshing to have everything organized neatly.
7. Candle warmers and air freshners
Fighting a musty smell in your dorm room? Most colleges don’t allow candles in dorm rooms, but a heating plate will melt the wax of your candle and release that delicious scent. Other options include fastening an air freshener to a vent, fan, or plug-in and letting the scent spread throughout the room. Whether you’re after that warm-cookies-baking-in-the-oven smell or a touch of Fall with apples and cinnamon, your room will smell fresh and inviting with the right tools.