Five dorm room ideas to make your space feel cozy and personal

We spoke to the pros, and these dorm room ideas are worthy of a 4.0!

Mixed race college students relaxing in dorm, dorm room ideas
(Image credit: Tetra Images, LLC / Alamy Stock Photo)

Before the semester gets too busy and you're up to your eyeballs in term papers, make sure your home away from home gets the TLC it requires. 

These dorm room ideas will take a bleak, blank space and turn it into a cozy retreat, whether you're in the midst of a study session, having a movie marathon with your roomie or tucking in after an all-nighter at the library.

Your campus is your home for a good part of the year, so making it your own is not only encouraged, it's practically required. (Didn't you see it on the syllabus?) Now's the time to add the flair you're looking for.

Have a look at our edit of dorm room essentials and dorm bathroom essentials before heading back to school—these goods are worthy of a 4.0!

5 dorm room ideas to pep up your space:

a girl in a dorm room sitting at her desk with bedding and books in the background and the light on

(Image credit: Peter Cade/Getty Images)

1. Make bold statements


♬ Intro - The xx

Let's be frank: you're not given an entirely large space to work with, but that doesn't mean dorm rooms need to be boring. In fact, if you pay extra attention to the bed—oftentimes the focal point of the room—you'll see a huge transformation.

"Bedding to me is the foundation of any bedroom space," says interior designer Ross  Cooper. "It's really the biggest piece of furniture, so you really have a lot of leverage there to bring in a ton of color."

Think of it like a canvas: there are various layers that will allow you to mix and match patterns and hues to your heart's content. 

"There's always going to be multiple elements," Cooper adds. "You have your fitted sheets, your duvet, pillow covers, a comforter and even a throw blanket at the foot of the bed. All of those are elements where we can really play with color and speak to our own personal style."

And throw pillows? Now you're talkin'! They make for one of the best cozy gifts, too...

Meet the expert: Ross Cooper

Ross Cooper, a Philadelphia native who moved to New York City for his educational pursuits at Parsons, originally started his career in the fashion world. In 2015, he established Ross Cooper Interior Design with a specialization in residential spaces.  Ross "artfully blends modernity with tradition, history and a touch of playfulness and eclecticism."

2. Add personalization

photos on a string on a white wall

(Image credit: Carolina Quinteiro / EyeEm/Getty images)

Of course, posters and artwork are strongly encouraged but don't forget to add photos of those you love—from back home and on campus—to your space. Likely, you're not going to have a table to place frames, so we recommend having a look at string lights with photo clips. They give off light and make space for your favorite moments—a win-win!


Room Essentials LED Fairy Lights with Metallic Photo Clips
: $10

A battery-operated light chord nearly two feet in length with 20 mini lights per string.

"Making your space your own is so important," says interior designer Jennifer Morris

"[Choose] wall decals if permitted and removable paper can be great but make sure it’s okay first and know it might leave a mark, which could come out of your room deposit."

(Pro tip: always inquire about what's permitted in your space before stocking up.) 

Meet the expert: Jennifer Morris

The founder of JMorris Design LLC, Jennifer Morris is a Brooklyn-based interior designer that caters to her clients' needs and helps them see a project from start to finish.

3. Add greenery


(Image credit: sagarmanis/Getty Images)

Bring a little life into your space—quite literally. A succulent or blooms from the farmer's market not only add a pop of color to your dorm room, but they have their benefits. 

"Scientific studies have shown indoor plants can boost your mood, reduce your stress and even help increase productivity, concentration and creativity when compared to spaces without plants," says Erin Marino, editorial director at The Sill.

Sounds essential during midterms and finals, right? If you haven't quite developed your green thumb just yet, have a look at the best houseplants according to your zodiac sign.

Meet the expert: Erin Marino

Erin is the editorial director of The Sill, your guide to all-things green. The company offers a plant shop, online courses, subscription services and so much more.

4. Store wisely

We can't reiterate this enough: space is minimal. Use the necessary area under your bed accordingly and invest in bed risers if your storage boxes are bigger than you expected. Those extra clothes or knick-knacks that you don't necessarily use every day are prime contenders for that plastic bin. 

But when getting organized, don't overlook your desk. These desk storage ideas will keep your books and accessories in place all semester long. 

5. Add small details

And by small detail, Cooper suggests an ottoman, an oftentimes overlooked item that not only adds pizzazz but value. 

"It's an easy, lightweight piece of furniture, it'll move with you between any dorm room you go to and it will definitely transition to apartment living down the road," he says. "It can be your desk chair, it can be a secondary chair when your friends come and visit."

It'll provide flexibility, versatility, and—if you shop wisely—storage space!


HomePop by Kinfine Fabric Upholstered Round Storage Ottoman

A velvet button tufted ottoman with removable lid available in 15 shades. 

Happy decorating!

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.