Space Case: 5 Tips for Decorating Your Dorm

When I started college in San Francisco, I was so excited about living on my own. I lived in a dorm named the “Coco Chanel Residence Hall.” (I thought the name was very fitting seeing as she is one of my favorite inspirations.) I couldn’t wait to decorate my new little home away from home. But when I arrived at my new dorm, my roommate had decorated most of the place. While it was sweet of her to go ahead and do the decor, I never really got the chance to customize my dorm room. I did put a large photo of the beach on the ceiling above my bed to remind me of home and added some curtains for a little privacy. Sadly all of my great decorative expectations and dorm decor ideas were quickly put on the backburner. While I didn’t exactly get to execute my dreams of dorm decor, I figured I might as well share them with you since I know many of you are headed off to school…

Below, I’ve put together a few simple ways to overhaul your dorm space in a snap. These tips will help you get organized, feeling comfortable and loving your new little nook in no time.

  1. Get crafty with curtains. When most people think of curtains, they automatically picture them hanging above a window or a shower. But in a dorm room, they can give you privacy while you sleep or hide the contents of an unkempt closet while maximizing space.

    Space Case: 5 Tips for Decorating Your Dorm

  2. Inspire your walls. Your dorm room desk is an easy place to pile papers, homework, photos, and junk. Before you know it, you’ll be swimming through a sea of clutter. No thank you. Why not hang all of these important papers and pictures on a cute corkboard above your desk? It’s a nice way display your inspirations and keep your workstation mess free.

    Space Case: 5 Tips for Decorating Your Dorm

  3. Unexpected organization. You’d be surprised to find how many ordinary areas in a room make for great organizational opportunities. I like using clear organization items like makeup trays and mason jars to categorize my things. That way, I can grab what I need in just one glimpse.

    Space Case: 5 Tips for Decorating Your Dorm

  4. Shed some light in your space. A unique lamp can make all the difference in a dorm room. Find a light you love and place it on your bedside table or desk to add a touch of personal charm to your new room. (You might also want to give the lampshade an adorable bow detail… Click here to find out how.)

    Space Case: 5 Tips for Decorating Your Dorm

  5. Smart storage is key. When you’re living in a small space, it’s crucial that you utilize each nook and cranny for storing your items. Being smart about your storage will not only make it easier for you to find things on the go, it will also maximize your space. Try using an over-the-door organizer for shoes and jewelry, or store your winter boots and coats in bins under your bed.

    Space Case: 5 Tips for Decorating Your Dorm

What tips and tricks do you have for decorating a small space? Upload photos of your dorm décor to the Gallery for a chance to see your room in an upcoming post!

XO Lauren

You might also like…
Inspired Idea: Closet Coloring
Crafty Creations: DIY Accent Pillows
Room Redux: Update Your Space on the Cheap
Crafty Creations: Crayon Art

Photo Credits: Anthropologie,,,,

Categories: Decorate, Lauren Conrad
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  • Melissa Panici

    These are great tips! Thanks Lauren:)

  • Michelle Resman

    I love these! Another thing that I did this year was loft my bed and put my desk under it, this saved tons of room! A very cheap way to personalize your room more is buying fabric (they have lots of cute patterns and colors!) and either draping it on your ceiling or panneling it on your wall and it kind of looks like wall paper! Rugs are also amazing too, they really warm up a space. One more thing I like to do is always have a pretty scent in the room, this makes it seem a lot more like home!

  • Deanne Castro

    Great ideas!!!

    For more fashion and beauty advice, please visit my blog:

    Today’s post – Fall Trend: Maxi Love


  • Diamenrose

    thank you :-)

  • Kelby Peachey

    I use coat hooks to store all of my purses! Saves a ton of room and utilized the unused wall space. :) Plus, it makes a great decor piece.


  • Silla Chare

    The how-to bow detail is gorgeous and super clever! <3

  • Patricia Rodriguez

    Where can I find that makeup tray? I need that!

  • Martin M

    After I got my curtains the room looked so more compftable, like a real home. Very important for me is the color of my room. It should be a tone that inspires me. Like a soft blue tone. In my bedroom I have a huge board where all my ideas for blogposts are on. Greetings from Germany :) XOXO

  • Rosie Waldherr

    Great tips!! I might actually use the shoe tip myself!!!


  • Crystal Cierlak

    Just don’t bring too much stuff from home. I made that mistake both years I lived in the dorms and each year it took HOURS to get everything out.


    Great advice! I have more tips for decorating on a budget on my blog: There are some awesome finds from Target and Ikea, and tips on how to achieve the perfect French Decor.

    Check it out :)

    Have an enchanting day,


  • Kasia Rymar

    This is amazing advice! I especially love the curtains idea.

  • Umbrella Drink

    Thanks for the tips! I could use some shoe organization in my life.

  • mrsellieroop

    Brilliant ideas! Even though I’m attending online classes, I’ll still use these ideas for my apartment.

  • Andjela Vuckovic

    I love the new post, actually have the same corkboard above my desk and organizator for make up :)
    I wouldnt add anything hats pretty much it.

  • Stacie

    Just remember that everything’s not going to be just as perfect as the pictures seen here. In my first year, there were built in bookshelves above the desks in our rooms, so a cute cork board at the desk wasn’t an option. Some dorms also have very strict rules about curtains and lamps because they can be fire hazards.

    But, to think more positively, always try to contact your roommate before you move in so you can coordinate the decor and you won’t run into the same problem Lauren had. And as a previous comment suggested, loft your bed!! Our dorms required us to rent the lofts, and they were a little pricey, so I chose not to, but I wish I had.. It definitely increases the space and functionality of the room.

  • HistoryBeauty

    Awesome tips! Great for a bedroom too!

  • Tiffani Stuart

    My tip is for ANY size space, when it comes to storing my necklaces & bracelets. I tend to find, that if you just let your necklaced tangle w/each other, they get oily (maybe from transferred lotions & perfumes) and they become a mess! I took a coat/hat wall rack (you know the kind that you can pull in and out that looks like expandable diamonds?) and draped my necklaces on that. That was fine for a few years, until I rang out of space. I also use clear push pins to hang my jewelry on the wall. It gives my room a cutesy “”Fashionista”” vibe, and also keeps my necklaces separated & tangle-free! In result, this also keeps them damange free!


    Great advice! I have more tips for decorating on a budget on my blog: There are some awesome finds from Target and Ikea, and tips on how to achieve the perfect French Decor.

    Check it out :)

    Have an enchanting day,


  • Carol S

    makes me want to go back to College….

  • Eliza Zamora

    I have been meaning to get clear organizing bins for my messy drawer! Love the tips!

  • Cluny Grey

    If you have actual beds in your dorm rooms, go buy bed risers (BB&B has them) and put rolling plastic drawers under your bed or just underbed storage. It’s truly found space! You can keep your out of season clothes there (or anything else) !


  • Samantha K

    so cute!

    check out my fashion beauty blog

  • Karmele Garcia

    My closet doors ate actually curtains but those look better. Thank you!

  • Kylie Miller

    AWESOME tips!! Check out my blog:

  • Sol Sol

    hiiiiiii girls!!! laurennn really love this ideas!!! i live in a little house with my boyfriend and i want to change the decoration since its almost all black & white & some little ornament here and there!! i LOVE the idea of the curtains!!! really nice!!! i use them only on windows, but they look so pretty to close up areas!!! and also love how you put different colour and prints of them together!!! i will absolutely give this a try!!! together with de idea of “”clear-ify you space””!!! i like very much clear acrylic or glass furnitures!!!

    once again, thanks lauren for all your advices!!!! =)


  • Jordan Weaver

    these are awesome ideas! you can also add a lot of life to small spaces by adding pops of color like this:

  • AJ Thompson

    It’s been a *few* years since I was in college, but the advice about the lamp is probably the best. Not kidding. Don’t get one of those desk/task lamps…get a cute lamp and put an incandescent (or if you must, a warm-colored CFL) bulb in it and turn off the godforsaken fluorescent light that is likely hanging overhead in your dorm room. It will instantly make your room feel more homey. The other thing to add is a rug. It probably wasn’t the most practical, but I put down a cream colored rug, turned off the ugly fluorescent light, and turned on my cute little lamp and it instantly transformed the dorm room. It had the added benefit of drawing people into our room (and thus allowing us to meet new people) because they would stop in and tell us how cozy it looked!

    Also, the advice about hanging stuff above your desk is good. In my case, I hung art/letters/cards/etc. all the way to the ceiling and it made the ceiling look taller. This made the room look bigger, which is no small feat in a tiny shoebox of a dorm room!

  • Linh Ly

    These are all such cute ideas! I AM IN LOVE WITH THAT LAMP!! can you please tell me where you got it from?


  • Haley Anderson

    these ideas are pefect for my current apartment!!!

  • love_lexih

    i love all of these ideas! i am going to have to use these in the fall :)

  • Jamie Lynn Davis

    This is a beautiful space! I don’t have a dorm but It gave me ideas for my bed room! Thanks!

  • Meghan Cullen

    LOL i’m living in the “Coco Chanel Residence Hall.” in San Francisco this fall. I go to AAU

  • saradujour

    These are great ideas! For a few more, here’s how I decorated my little apartment.

    Apartment Living Room Tour:

    Apartment Bedroom Tour:

    Sara du Jour |

  • Manda Goldberg

    What websites do you suggest?!



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