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14 Cute Dorm Decorating Tips to Make Even the Smallest Space Feel Big

Dorm shopping season is here and with it, all of the catalogs, coupons, brightly-colored ottomans and beanbag chairs, lists, and Pinterest DIYs to accompany it. And if it’s your first year, probably a whole lot of excitement -albeit a lot of stress and nervousness- too. You’re anxious and elated to pick out a new bed set (you haven’t had a new comforter since your unicorn phase in middle school) and stock your room with all of the things online blogs declare to be “essentials”. Yet, you’re also worried about making your tiny room feel homey, comfortable, cute, and inviting to new friends. Not to worry- these fun dorm room decorating ideas will have your small space thriving with big personality in no time!

Utilize your space wisely

Bed risers make it easy to loft your bed for added space underneath. An over-the-door caddy is perfect for knick-knacks, shoes, or just a hiding place for snacks. Remember- build up, not out. Look for shelves that stack, or things that have multiple uses, such as crates or ottomans which double as both seating/mini tables and places to store textbooks!

Throw pillows are a must.

Throw Pillows from American Made DormIf you go a bit excessive with any decoration, let it be with throw pillows. They instantly make any space look more posh, and you’ll be thankful you had some spare padding during movie nights or sleepovers when friends forget to bring their own. Seriously, it's one of the most foolproof of cute dorm room decorating ideas there are. American Made Dorm & Home has got you covered in this department. There are so many different colors and prints to choose from that it’s easy to find one that corresponds with your personality!

Who says you can't have your own mini art museum?

Create your own gallery wall! This can be a mix of prints, inspiring quotes, photos/Polaroids, paintings, and/or posters clustered together in an appealing arrangement.

Jars = instant and cheap organization

Mason jars are the simplest and most inexpensive way to organize makeup brushes or pencils. Tin cans are also a cute and virtually free option. Try spray-painting them metallic gold or a bright turquoise to liven up the look.

For those lacking in a green thumb:

A terrarium will liven up any desk space, and is possible for even those who most severely lack in a green thumb. Experiment with the look of marbles and stones, gravel and seashells, soil and sand (try a dyed neon sand for a pop of color!) and different types of succulents. And, if you’re too weary of your gardening skills, you can always pick up realistic fake succulents at your craft store.

For those especially lacking in a green thumb:

Want something a little less time-consuming than layering the dirt needed for a terrarium? Just pick up a few mini terra cotta pots and fill them with neon-hued aquarium sand and pop an artificial plant inside. These flora-adding diy dorm room decorating ideas are a great one to try with your friends for a pre-college crafting day!

Convenient caddy

Do invest in a hanging shower caddy- there is not enough room in cramped dormitory bathrooms for all those products you’ll want to lather up with! Even if you’ll be using communal bathrooms, find a waterproof carrier for easy storage.

And an extra pro-tip?

Paint the bottom of any metal product containers with clear nail polish to prevent annoying rust stains.

Mirror, mirror

A vertical floor mirror is a must for the fashionista. There are many available for cheap during dorm-shopping season, so pick one up and make it one of a kind by hot-gluing buttons, multi-colored yarn, or artificial flowers to the frame.

The dry erase essential

Do not underestimate how truly helpful (and fun!) dry erase boards are. They’re fun spaces for your friends to leave cute notes and messages, and useful spaces for you to leave important reminders. Hang it by your door so your list of the day’s to-do’s is easily in your line of vision. DIY one using a picture frame (replace the boring sample picture with cute scrapbook paper to match your theme).

Your decorating savior

Invest. In. Washi tape. This stuff comes in a hundred different patterns, and can be used to add style to anything in mere minutes. Upgrade your plain usb’s and wall adapters by wrapping it around the cords, trim your door (show your room exterior some love too), secure it around the base of any bottle or jar for a nifty vase or desk organizer, or simply use it to make the things you hang up a bit more interesting. Have a space that's blooming

A vase of flowers, real or artificial, are easy to change up throughout the year, and an easy way to brighten both mood and room.

Smile for the camera

White BedroomFilm photos are ubiquitous to dorm style. There are many cute, diy ideas all over the internet for displaying snaps of your family, friends, and favorite moments. Try yarn and clothes pins, a framed collage, or this pennant flag banner. Bonus? Hanging photos takes up less valuable desk space than picture frames.


Fairy-lights or paper lanterns (also ubiquitous to dorm style) are a great purchase because they allow your eyes to rest from the harsh or yellowish glare from dormitory lighting.

String it up

Tassel garlands are beyond trendy, and while they make take a bit of patience, are actually completely DIY doable!

Enjoy these wonderfully and simplistically cute dorm room decorating ideas, and remember- it's your space. Let it be unique to you!


  1. American Made Dorm & Home: Calendars
  2. Kelly Christine Photo: DIY Sand Terrarium
  3. Making Home Base: YDIY Planted Succulents
  4. Better Homes & Gardens: Life Hacks that will Change the Way you Shower
  5. Her Campus: Turn Your Dorm From Plain to Insane
  6. The Sweetest Occasion: 5 Ways to Use Washi Tape at Home
  7. Vintage Show Off: Get Attention with a Banner
  8. Pizzazzerie: DIY Make Your Own Tassel 

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