At the risk of sounding like complete pessimists, there’s not much that’s ideal about decorating a dorm room. Shared, often tiny spaces, dated walls or floors, and a lack of natural light don’t exactly make for the most inspiring backdrop… but before you relegate yourself to a semester of staring at cinder blocks, read this. We’ve put together a few styling guides for cool pieces to elevate any dorm room, broken down by decor aesthetic.
From maximalist bohemian vibes to cool and contemporary designs, try adding these pieces to your room to make it somewhere you actually want to be.
Defined by pared-back essentials that rely on texture, Scandinavian style is a timeless option for anyone looking to invest in pieces they’ll be getting use out of for years to come. Though with a rug at under $15 and a glass vase costing less than $4, these particular pieces barely even count as investments. A chic ladder provides extra hanging space for essentials like towels or scarves, while a pale pink duvet color is just the hint of color your dorm room needs to keep it from being too one-note.
Looking for something a bit more gritty? Try a more industrial feel, using sleek products to bring in some edge. Or at least, as much edge as a stool and storage baskets can provide. Cool materials, like trendy concrete or sturdy cast iron, are small and easy ways to make your space feel more urban and less of a linoleum-floored menace to your personal style.
You could go the route of trying to pack as much pattern and color into one tiny space as possible, and if you’re here for the eclectic minimalist look, we applaud you. Liven up your drab room (without scaring off your roommate in the process) by incorporating products in vibrant hues. Natural textures, like a woven basket, ground the space a bit. And a bamboo beaded curtain is a seriously genius solution for adding a bit of privacy—just attach to the ceiling or a window.
Between geometric shapes, solid colors, and a reliance on sleek metallics, going with a more contemporary aesthetic is a surefire way to ensure everything looks put together. Dress up empty walls with a cool geometric mirror set, courtesy of Urban Outfitters, for under $40 (!!). Get in on the acrylic trend with a functional set of nesting tables, which can be stacked when you need space and taken out to use as tabletops when you have people over. And the ever-popular aloe plant is a welcome pop of greenery—plus, it’s actually pretty hard to kill. Win-win all around.
Our obsession with all things Parisian cool-girl is a well-documented one, but the shabby-chic, eclectic design style may be one of the country’s most enviable assets. Bring a little bit of France to your dorm with antique-looking pieces; and if you can’t afford actual antiques (or simply don’t live near an antique market), there are luckily plenty of big box retailers emulating that very feel. Rustic nightstands and distressed mirrors are functional staples, while a faded rug will cover up ugly floors and add warmth simultaneously. Add a simple glass vase with your favorite blooms as a finishing touch and voilà! You’ve achieved the French It Girl look on a budget.
No Lilly Pulitzer or Vineyard Vines required (thankfully) to replicate this tried-and-true look. Instead, go the nautical route with a blue and white theme, accented of course by a rope mirror. This linen duvet set is simple and classic, and the thin stripes and more subtle saturation make this anything but cliché. And of course, we had to throw in an opportunity to monogram via these handy hooks from Anthro.