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Dorm rooms are essentially blank slates, which can make it intimidating at first to decide how to tackle all that free space you’ve got to work with. You may be constrained by a tight space, by your housing’s rules (no candles was the big one at my university), and what your roommate considers as “acceptable” decor options. But there are plenty of simple ways to make your room more comfortable and cozy.
First things first: bringing some of your own personality into the space will help offset some sterility from the blank walls and standardized layouts. Decorating the space with accessories, posters, and bedding can make you feel more at home, and make the space feel livelier and less sparse. Even if you’re only going to be spending a few months in that room, you want your dorm to be a place you actually want hang out in (and bring new friends over to).
Don’t schlep all the decorations from your childhood bedroom, or spend hours trying to DIY the decor yourself — with a few key pieces, you can stylize and personalize your dorm in a way that shows off your interests and that can easily pack up with you to next year’s dorm room. We like Redbubble since they have thousands of different designs for dorm room essentials to help transform your college living space. Here are some easy ideas to help get you started for the school year.
1. Hardcover Journals and Stationery
College is one of the last times you have an excuse to stock up on as much stationery as you want (unless you have an office job and get really into planners). Most dorms will give you a desk setup, so whatever study materials you lay out will unintentionally become a part of your room’s decor.
We like this hardcover notebook, which may look like an average composition book at first, but is great for anyone who’s been screaming Dua Lipa or The Weeknd lyrics all summer. It features a fully-printed front and back design, so it’ll stay noticeable whether you’re carrying it class or displaying it on your desk. With 128 pages, you won’t have to worry about running out of space before the semester ends. The notebook is also available in a selection of ruled, graph, or blank pages. Not an Eighties retro fan? Redbubble has a variety of themed stationery, from street art-inspired to Sixties and Seventies art.
Tapestries, or wall hangings, are a great way to cover a large area of wall space all at once instead of aligning a million smaller posters. While they may be slightly more annoying to hang up than a regular poster, with a couple good wall strips or hooks, you can make it the centerpiece of your room and avoid incurring a dorm damage bill from nailing it to the wall.
This “Asteroid Map of the Solar System” tapestry signals to anyone who comes through that your dorm that while you may only be taking astronomy as an elective, you’re someone who appreciates the intricacies of the universe. Intense, vivid colors and fine details will light up your space instantly without relying on too much wall dressing. The tapestry won’t slip off the wall while you’re trying to sleep either, since the 100 percent polyester material is fairly lightweight. Sizing ranges from small (60 x 51 inches) to larger hangings (104 x 88 inches) better suited for your shared living room space, or if you have a single all to yourself.
That being said, if you don’t want your dorm wall covered floor to ceiling in posters, Redbubble has a huge range of options, with everything from art prints, to canvas and framed prints. But there’s nothing like the simplicity of a poster you can slap on the wall with a couple inches of tape that instantly highlights your favorite TV shows, bands, and most importantly, your favorite movies.
Unless you want the same three posters everyone’s been putting up for years (Pulp Fiction, I’m looking at you) this poster is actually a clever design twist on the original promotional poster for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo. You may still give off first year film major vibes, but blank walls suck, so this 15.9 x 23.2-inch semi-gloss poster will add a bit of life to your room.
Yes, you heard us right. Stickers are one of the easiest ways to add a little personality to the more portable parts of your dorm room: we’re talking laptops, windows, even Hydro Flasks. While we don’t recommend you stick these on your walls, especially if you know you’re indecisive, building up a sticker collection is a small decor choice that says a lot about you.
While Redbubble has a lot of fandom-specific stickers for you to choose from, some of our favorites are their variety of minimalist stickers. This illustrated pattern filled with outdoor camping and fishing gear is easier than a dating profile to show off that yes, you do in fact have interests outside of school. This vinyl sticker is actually removable, which is a big plus. Not to mention the matte finish makes it super durable and water-resistant if you’re going to slap it on something you’ll carry around, like a water bottle. Comes in small (3 x 3-inch) to large (8 by 8-inch) sizes.
College is arguably the time when you either figure out if you’re a “study from your bed” kind of student, or a “pass out the minute you hit the sheets” kind of student. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. But if you can successfully finish your homework from the comfort of your dorm room, this Pencil Power Blue Pattern comforter shows off that you’ve got your stuff together.
This big, bold blanket, features designs of all the Number 2 pencils you won’t be using in college (unless your professors are old-fashioned about test-taking).You’ll want to hop into this vivid, full-color bedspread made from a comfy polyester filling with double-square quilted pattern. Sizes are available from twin up to king, but the good news is that the twin XL size will fit most extra-long college dorm beds (extra points for being machine-washable, although your fellow dormmates might give you the side eye for taking up an entire machine).
Backpacks are like functional, portable pieces of art, so it stands that you’d actually want to get one you wouldn’t mind slinging over your bedpost after class. Redbubble’s selection of backpacks show off everything from Keith Haring art, to sports figures like Michael Jordan, anime and original designs. What we’re saying is that there’s something for everyone, so don’t settle for something you’ll want to shove under your chair during class.
Though we can’t deny that there’s something special about this expressive Punk Tattoo Pattern backpack — maybe it’s the old-school designs, or the skulls offset with birds in flight so it doesn’t lean too much into “pirate” aesthetic territory. The bag measures 17 x 12.5 x 5 inches, and comes with an internal pocket to carry your laptop, and an external mesh pocket for storing your keys, phone, etc. The durable shell and adjustable padded straps will also keep you comfortable and your items secure if you ever get caught in a downpour on your way to class.
7. Wall Clock
Sure, you can just check your smartphone when you want to know the time. But where’s the fun in that? You might not end up using a wall clock for its intended purpose as much as your digital clocks, but it’s a great piece of wall decor you can use as a talking point for your friends and dorm guests, the same way a poster would. And yes, it also tells time too.
This “All Colors Are Beautiful” clock feels like it could’ve been a still from Yellow Submarine or a poster for Woodstock, which is why it makes for such unique wall art. It also comes with a built-in rear hook, so it’s ready to hang right out of the box. You can also choose the colors of both the wooden frame (black, white, or natural finish) and the metal hands of the clock itself.
8. Throw Pillow
Everyone, whether they admit it or not, has their one decor weakness: mine so happens to be throw pillows. Accent cushions, a.k.a. throw pillows and their bigger cousin, the floor pillow, add that extra zhuzh factor in any room with original art that you don’t have to break out the nails to hang to a wall.
If you don’t have the dorm space to bring along your entire record collection, but you still want something that screams ‘ask me about my band’, we suggest this “Back In The Days” double-sided throw pillow. The spun polyester cover (and optional insert) is soft and durable enough to be quite literally tossed around, and a concealed zipper opening makes up easy to take off and throw in the washing machine. Rock out, air guitar, and pretend that mixtapes are actually still made on tapes.
9. Bath Mat
If you’ve got your own bathroom not shared by an entire floor, first of all, you lucky duck; second of all, there are simple ways to spruce up that space too (with the input of a few of your roommates of course). Step out of the shower and onto a soft, absorbent piece of art with these foam cushion bath mats that are anything but boring.
Not allowed to continue your plant-collecting hobby in your dorm? This Modern Pottery with Plants bath mat has a non-slip base, so it feels comfortable and spongy under your feet, but won’t slide around when you’re getting out. Feel free to get this fade-resistant design wet, since the microfiber material can handle it (though you can always toss this mat in the wash if it gets little gross throughout the year). It’s available in two sizes, small (24 x 17 inches) and large (34 x 21 inches).
10. Canvas Print
Doesn’t art just feel more official when it’s on a canvas print? They’re also more durable than your average poster, something with the potential to be ruined when you tear it down off the wall at the end of the semester. But just because you’re getting something that feels more artsy, doesn’t mean you have to spring for something pretentious, or wallet-straining.
Take this canvas for example: fueled by java and constant self-reassurance, this print features a skeleton showing just how you’ll feel at any given point in the semester. The design will stay vibrant too, since the hand-stretched canvas is gallery-grade. It comes with hanging hardware if you want to display it either like a portrait or landscape, and sizes range from small (8 x 9.9 inches) to extra large (20 x 24.8).