8 Dorm Room Decorating Ideas That Your Kids Will Love

contact paper as wallpaper

When it comes to dorm room decorating ideas, it’s time to think outside of the, well, dorm. Add some color to dorm room walls with contact paper.

By Kathleen Ashcraft

It’s that time of year again — when the heat starts to wane and when the kids head out to college. Even as you search for your new home and have already cut Junior’s bedroom out as you imagine a new study or craft room, isn’t it time to consider Junior’s new digs or offer him some dorm room decorating ideas?

Your kids shouldn’t be made to suffer in college dorm blandness — they can have a great-looking dorm room without breaking the (your) bank and without breaking those tough dorm room rules. Here are eight dorm decorating ideas to help them maximize and personalize their space:

Multifunctional Furniture

No matter what your son or daughter decides to put in their dorm, it’s inevitable that it will take up too much space. The trick is to find multifunctional furniture. “Multifunctional furniture items are gold in dorm rooms,” says Tony Zovko, a sales representative for FOW Furniture.

One example is this ottoman, which has a lid that flips over as a tray and inside storage space. “You can also use this type of an ottoman as an additional seat,” Zovko says. Bedbathandbeyond.com; $19.99.

Decorate the Walls — Without Paint!

multifunctional dorm room furnitureYou’ll be hard-pressed to find a college that allows students to paint dorm room walls. Don’t let that rule stop you from creating fun, colorful walls that will keep your child and their roommate smiling all year long. There are plenty of non-paint additions to add color to the walls.

There’s the typical tape to hang stuff. And another option is corkboard to pin up all of your child’s favorite pictures, quotes and trinkets from home.

But, if you really want the kids to think you’re with it, try using contact paper as wallpaper, like the one pictured above, Caswell suggests. “You can find beautiful designs online and in stores for very little money.” Contact paper often comes with adhesive and likely won’t break any dorm regulations. Chicshelfpaper.com; priced by square feet, starts at $3.75 per square foot.

Bed Risers or Lofting

dorm room bed with risersDorm rooms across the nation are compact and shared by roommates. Multiple roommates means multiple beds — which mean not a lot of space. But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to create more space.

Lofting the beds is one option. By lofting the bed, you open up unused space. “Instead of a bunk bed, add a student loft with built-in storage drawers, desk, and shelving,” says Zovko. If your college does not offer student lofts, you can purchase the proper hardware to do it on your own and then place a desk and some storage items beneath the bed, leaving the rest of the room open for other furniture.

Some colleges don’t allow lofted beds. In that case, you can purchase bed risers. “A great idea to maximize the sleeping area is to use under-bed storage drawers, where you can place books, linens, pillows, etc.,” says Zovko. Kmart.com; $9.89.

Pop-Up Laundry Basket

cool laundry basketsOnce your son or daughter moves into their dorm room, they are responsible for laundry. They’ll need a hamper or laundry basket to store dirty clothes until laundry day. Consider buying something other than a regular plastic laundry basket. These baskets not only take away from the décor of the room, but they can be bulky and difficult to store. The bulkier the basket, the more difficult it is to transport to the dorm’s laundry room.

“Consider a pop-up clothes hamper for your laundry,” says Renee Tarnutzer, creative director of Internet sales and communications for Blain Supply Inc. “These pop-up hampers are easy to shrink down and store when not in use.” And most pop-up hampers come in a variety of colors and styles. Containerstore.com; $14.99.

Carpets and Rugs

dorm room rug ideasPurchasing a decorative carpet or rug can liven up a dorm room with color. You can purchase one large rug that fits the whole room or get creative and fit several smaller rugs together, making a unique carpet collage that others in the dorm will surely envy.

Meg Caswell, a professional designer and season six winner of HGTV’s “Design Star,” suggests another option for those with a creative side: “Buy a cheap white rug from Target, a dollar store or a thrift store. Using painter’s tape and fabric paint, you can paint a beautiful design to make a chic upscale rug for their dorm room.” Target.com; $24.99 – 49.99.

Hanging Shoe Rack

dorm room decorating over-the-door show rackThese days, both girls and guys alike tend to have a huge collection of shoes. Shoe storage can be tricky because shoes come in a variety of designs, shapes and sizes.

Julie Davis, director of content and marketing for TotalHouseHold.com, suggests an over-ther-door shoe rack. “They aren’t just for shoes — fill them with toiletries, accessories and small clothing items like undies.” Bedbathandbeyond.com; $19.99


Room Dividers

dorm room ideas room dividerSometimes it can be difficult to share a dorm room, especially when what your child is sharing is a very limited amount of living space. “Sometimes they’ll just need a little privacy, so add a divider,” says Jenna Pizzigati-Coppola, owner of Pizzigati Designs. “The easiest way to do this in a small space is by bringing in a cubed bookcase or foldable screen.”

While a foldable screen may work, cubed bookcases are a multifunctional option. Not only do they provide privacy in the form of a room divider, but they can be a great source of storage space. Ikea.com; $159

Color Coordinate

how to color coordinate in dorm roomWith all of their storage needs in order, your son or daughter will want to tie the room together. Nothing accomplishes this better than coordinating on the general color and design scheme for the dorm room.

“Any room will seem bigger if all bedding, lamp, towels and curtains are in the same color family,” Davis says. Bedbathandbeyond.com; prices vary with product shown.


Kathleen Ashcraft is a writer for NewHomeSource.

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One Response to 8 Dorm Room Decorating Ideas That Your Kids Will Love

  1. Great post- thanks again for including my insight!!