You-niversity: A More Personal Approach to Dorm Decoration

A stylized dorm room.
Texas A&M University/flickr
College dorm rooms tend to be fixer-uppers. Here are some unique and low-cost ways to make your dorm room feel like home.
Far away from home, where Mom made the decorating decisions, college is the perfect place to discover your unique style. But with that bleak, white-washed dorm room as your canvas, it’s hard to let that personality shine through. Here are some imaginative — and affordable!  ways to convert that dorm room into your own personal palace.

1. Build a Temporary Headboard

The headboard of a bed.
Stacie/flickr
College dorm rooms can be hard to dress up, especially if you’re into more elegant decor. Make a simple headboard with a piece of cardboard and discount fabric, and  voila!  you’ll be sleeping like royalty. Learn how to make your own with this Stars for Streetlights tutorial.

2. Dress up Your Pushpins

A bowl of DIY push pins.
Justin Snow/flickr
Your bulletin board, crowded with deadlines and course syllabi, is hard enough to look at, and those boring pushpins aren’t helping. To turn those lackluster tacks into lasting treasures, browse Michaels’ collection of beads, search your craft box, or scour a nearby forest for trinkets that will suit your board and adorn your pins best.

3. Brighten Your Walls with Removable Wallpaper

A wall decorated with birds sitting on telephone wires.
Matt B/flickr
One of the biggest challenges of decorating a dorm room is the list of college regulations. You’ll never be able to paint or nail artwork up, so you’re just stuck with magazine cut-outs, right? Wrong! Removable wallpaper and decals are a great way around the rules. Say goodbye to pasty walls and hello to originality with these DormCo beauties.

4. Buy Potted Plants

A selection of potted plants.
Kyla Roma/flickr
Bring some green into your life beyond those weird vegetables from the dining hall. Potted plants add some much-needed vibrancy and color to your dorm room. Worried about keeping them alive? Stick with succulents, or try out these low-maintenance plant ideas from Gardening Know How.

5. Hang a Canopy

A girl behind a curtain.
Scott Roberts/flickr
If you’re looking for luxurious charm and a dash of privacy, hang a canopy over your bed. And don’t worry about your RA’s disapproval! If you use removable command hooks instead of heftier hardware, you won’t be breaking walls or those pesky dorm rules. Learn to craft your own with this Apartment Therapy tutorial.

6. Light up Your Life With Flameless Candles

Two candles.
Brock Roseberry/flickr
Nothing makes a room homier than candles, but open flames are a no-go on any college campus. Imitate that moody glow with electric tea lights. You can scatter them around your room uncovered, or even place them in DIY decorated jars like these posted on Fellow Fellow. Is it the calming scent you miss?
Into The Gloss has some flameless scent ideas that might just do the trick (if your roomie is okay with it, of course).

7. Make a Photo Collage to Remind You of Home

An eclectic collage.
Manel/flickr
Finally, we all know that no matter how much you decorate a dorm room, it isn’t exactly home. If you’re missing your hometown cafe, childhood best friend, or your pet rabbit, what better way to reminisce than with a photo collage?
If you’re looking for a professional-looking keepsake, AdoramaPix prints gorgeous collages, each coming guaranteed with fantastic photo quality and lots of options for customization. Not only will it look lovely over your desk, but whenever you start panicking about your finals, you can remind yourself of the happy summer days that await you.