Cool College Dorm Rooms: Do’s and Dont’s of Dorm Decor

When you first step into your new living quarters at the university, you may think,

Wow, is this it?”

On your side of the room there’s just enough space for a twin bed, a small desk, a built-in closet and, if you’re lucky, a mini fridge.

After you’re done packing in all your stuff (and sending the extra clothes back with mom and dad), you realize the room is still empty. There is definitely something missing, or rather lots of things.

The wall by the bed is completely empty, and the door looks hideous with its grey metal “square-ness”.

But before you go all Mary Poppins in the residence hall, you must first think about what you want your neighbors to see and what you personally wish to convey about yourself. Here are some suggestions for making cool college dorm rooms:

  • DO: Hang Pictures

Let’s start with pictures. And let’s face it; you took a lot of them with your friends in high school. Luckily, you brought your entire photo album to just in case you wanted to take a stroll down memory lane.

Pictures make easy dorm decorations.  You can load them up on a tack-board, or on a decorative photo-holder (available at most superstores). If you really want to display your whole youth across the wall, go for it. It’s not tacky (pun intended), it’s expressive and fun.

Now, clearly the door needs some work. You don’t just want people to walk by your room and think, Wow this door is so plain. This person must be really boring. By decorating your only room’s exterior surface, you have the power to invite potential friends into your living space without even saying a word.

A colorful dorm door says,

“Hey, I’m here and I love meeting new people. Let’s be friends.” 

Voila, new friends galore.

  • DO: Attach a White Board to your Door

All cool college dorm rooms have white boards. If you have a white board already attached to your door, write all over that thing.

Use different colored pens, come up with funny quotes, and list your likes and dislikes (but no profanity- that is quite a turn-off for potential acquaintances).

Purchase a few large, bold letters to stick outside the door in order to present your name and your roommate’s. Add a couple symbols to represent your personality, such as a football, animal, or an instrument. Pin up your school logo and your awesome dorm door is complete.

  • DO: Leave Space to Hang Out

Make sure you leave enough space in the room for others to hang out. If you have too much clutter around your bed or the room layout is too crowded, it’s hard to make your living space a social one.

Cool college dorm rooms have creative and colorful decorations in visible spots, but also enough room for a couple people to sit and talk.

Forewarning: if you want to have a mini fridge, make sure it fits under your bed or in your closet. My freshman year, our fridge ended up in the center of the room. This made the already tiny dorm look ten times smaller. Let’s just say we didn’t have very many neighbors over to our room that year.

  • DON’T: Play Super Loud Music

Play loud, obnoxious music in your room all day. If you like hardcore dubstep music, you rock those tunes as loud as you want, but in your ears only. When people go to their rooms during the day, they usually desire some peace and quiet to escape their otherwise hectic schedules. Any piercing noise is typically received as annoying in the residence halls.

This is a huge don’t especially during finals week. The last thing stressed-out freshman want to hear is the new System of a Down album blasting on someone’s computer.

  • DON’T: Decorate without Talking to your Roommate

Don’t decorate any surface of your room without consulting with your roommate first. He or she will most likely agree to any décor you wish to exhibit, but it is courteous to at least get permission to make sure you are both on the same page before you start implementing any of my cool college dorm rooms ideas. It also establishes a stronger initial relationship between you and your roommate.

When it comes to decorating your dorm, anything you wish to convey should be about YOU. It’s your personality people want to see, and they want to know if you are friendly and willing to make new friends in a fresh and different environment at the university.

Whether you are more reserved or extroverted, your fellow on-campus residents want to meet you. Let your room scream THIS IS ME from the moment others enter, and the friendships you make will only grow stronger from there.

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Megan Heneghan

Megan Heneghan

Megan Heneghan is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Communication, as well as a Spanish minor. She is originally from Orange County, where she grew up playing tennis. She is currently a member of the UC Davis Women’s Tennis Team. When she is not studying, she enjoys singing, reading, and cooking all different kinds of food. She also loves spending time with friends and family.

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