Back To School: 16 Great Projects for Decorating Your Dorm

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If you’re a college student, the beginning of classes is likely right around the corner. With the beginning of the fall semester comes the requisite return of familiar friends, exorbitant textbook prices, sleepless nights, and the oh-so-dreaded Dorm Room. Even if you’re fortunate enough to be paired with a roomie who is even the slightest bit bearable, the whitewashed blandness of standard dorms leaves much to be desired in the way of comfort and beauty. If dorm decorating has you stumped (and who hasn’t been there?), here are 16 great, affordable ways to spruce up and personalize your space. They might not solve the snoring roommate issue, but they’ll certainly get your dorm feeling like home. —Max

1. Iron-Transfer Floral Bedding  (pictured above) — One of the first things you’ll need for your dorm is bedding, so why not make sure it’s pretty? Personalize it with images printed onto iron-on transfer paper. Check out the full DIY here.

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2. Tape Picture Frames — Frames are a wonderful and organized way of displaying art on your wall. Unfortunately, they can also be pretty expensive, especially on a student budget. These “frames” are created using colorful and patterned tape—a pretty and cost-effective solution! Check out the full DIY here.

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3. Faceted Wood Alarm Clock Digital alarm clocks are usually pretty unattractive. Try dressing yours up with some simple plywood! Check out the full DIY here.

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4. Customized Beanbag Chair Cover — Beanbag chairs have been a dorm room staple for what seems like forever. Still, if various shades of neon plastic aren’t your thing, you might want to try making one of these easy-peasy covers. Check out the full DIY here.

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5. Embellished Wood Pencil Block — You gotta have pencils (and pens), right? So why not display them nicely? Try your hand at this cute wooden pencil block, embellished with tiny nails. Check out the full DIY here.

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6. Instagram Magnets — Your mini fridge probably looks awfully sad without anything on it. Dress it up a bit with these simple magnets using Instagram photos printed at the photo counter! Check out the full DIY here.

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7. Secret Storage Books As a college student, there are likely instances in which you’d like to hide things from the prying eyes of roommates (ammiright?). Hide yo’ stuff in style with these faux books, crafted from cardboard boxes! Check out the full DIY here.

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8. Hanging Notepad — Sometimes the best way to organize your thoughts is to have them written out in front of you. This hanging notepad, constructed from a tree branch, does the trick beautifully. Check out the full DIY here.

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9. Budget-Friendly Mod Chandelier — Finding chic lighting at the campus bookstore can be difficult (or impossible) . Luckily, this stylish chandelier is easy on the eyes and the wallet. Check out the full DIY here.

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10. Cat Magnets — Made with plastic figurines and gold spray paint, these gilded magnets are fancy, playful, and super easy to make. Perfect for magnet boards or decorating your mini-fridge! Check out the full DIY here.

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11. Gold Nugget Bookends — As a college student, you’re pretty much guaranteed large amounts of books, papers, and course packets. Rather than having them stacked willy-nilly, try making these cute bookends! Check out the full DIY here.

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12. Spool Hooks — Old spools of thread are relatively easy to come by at flea markets, making them perfect tools for craft projects. Here, they’ve been repurposed as hooks—perfect for jewelry or clothing. Check out the full DIY here.

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13. Gem Pushpins — Dress up your bulletin board with these cast gem-shaped pushpins. They’ll add a touch of elegance to even the most mundane reminders. Check out the full DIY here.

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14. Wax Paper Luminarias — Candles (and anything with a flame, for that matter) are restricted in pretty much every sort of dorm. You can still create a lovely ambiance with electric tea lights, though, and these wax paper holders are a lovely (and delightfully easy) way to house them. Check out the full DIY here.

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15. Paper Picture Stand — This photo “frame,” constructed with just paper and tape, is surprisingly cute and couldn’t be easier to make. Check out the full DIY here.

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16. Geometric Wall Hanging — An update on the whole paisley tapestry idea, this geometric hand-printed wall hanging is a great way to cover lots of wall space. It’s like wallpapering without all the hassle! Check out the full DIY here.

Ginger

Soooo….is it OK to love all of this, and be a 36-year-old who hasn’t seen the inside of a dorm in 15 years? I’m asking for a friend. ;-)

LiMiJoo

I absolutely ADORE every single one I’ll try and do them when I move out to my grandma’s house in two days! I’m so happy can try this all! :D thank you so much for such great post! I never comment because I’m lazy but I did this time!

susie

I agree with Ginger… forget decorating a dorm, I want this stuff in my apartment!! Love it. Especially the spool hook idea. I have a lot of them lying around…

EBK Riley

I’m with the rest of you– does a small apartment count? Such cute ideas are too good to pass up!

Shari

Love the Faceted Wood Alarm Clock and the washi tape frames! I will definitely be using the tape idea <3

anne Marie Jackson Pattern Occurring

Cor, Blimey! Dorms have changed since my time. Stolen road worker signs and magic eye posters. I love that people are becoming more design conscious. Nonetheless i fear freshers week will still bring a flood of road signs into dorm rooms. Not to be encouraged hee hee!

Michelle Sexton

I graduated from college over 10 years ago, but I love these ideas for my house!!! Definitely going to do some of these in my house!!!

Mandy

I just noticed that there’s a thumbnail for a pretty looking laundry hamper, but no full size image/diy tutorial. Just curious what that might be.

lacksidaisy

I love this list! Another tip: do anything you can not to rely on the terrible, terrible built in florescent overhead lighting that’s in 90% of dorm rooms. Buy a floor lamp or some other source of indirect lighting with a regular bulb and your space will be much more homey.

Ella

OMG, this amaaazing! I wish I knew of this stuff when I was a freshman.. I love the beanbag idea though, may just go ahead and do it since I have a huge black one.

Aidel.K

Wonderful roundup! Is there a link for the Wax Paper Luminaria? I think I could figure it out from the photo, but would like to be certain I’m not missing something….Thanks.

Sarah LoCascio

hahaha :) cracking up over that first comment from Ginger! Ginger tell your friend she is NOT alone!! Love all of these:)

Polly Rowan

Love these! I just graduated from uni and some of these ideas are great! Unfortunately you can’t knock stuff into the walls (like for the hooks, hanging branch etc), but you’ve got some good ideas.

Perla

I really love simple and easy ideas that actually look great!! College students approve ;)

aastha rana

amazing ideas ii really liked them super!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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