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10 Ways to Decorate Your Dorm Without Causing Damage

Dressing up a temporary space like a dorm or apartment can be tricky. Landlords and residence halls often restrict tenants from painting the walls, adding shelves or making any other drastic changes to the bedroom, bathroom or kitchen. So how do you make your living space feel like a home away home? Try using some of these sly renovation hacks that tiptoe around those pesky rules. By incorporating any of these ideas, your dorm or apartment can be your personalized sanctuary in no time.

1. Wall Curtains

Privacy is hard to come by in a big, open space like this. By installing a shower rod across the ceiling and hanging some curtains, you can divide the room into personal segments for days when you really need some space. 

2. Lightweight Rugs

If your apartment’s wall-to-wall carpet looks like something out of a 1970s swingers party, try covering it up with a nifty rug. The trick is to pick out a thin cotton rug or indoor/outdoor rug to avoid tripping potential and hide hideous holes or stains.  

3. Mibo Tile Tattoos

We can’t always pick out our bathroom tiling, but in times of great need, we can tattoo over it! Introducing mibo tile tattoos, temporary moist-resistant decals used to cover up unattractive tiling. They come in 60 different colors and patterns so you can create your dream bathroom without angering your landlord. 

4. Contact Paper 

Not only can you change your bathroom tiling, but you can also use $10 contact paper to cover up ugly or outdated surfaces with mock peel-and-stick prints. Hide outdated kitchen counter tops with a granite design or revamp old wooden furniture with wood prints. The removal process is also surprisingly simple; just heat the surface with your hair dryer and peel off.  

5. Potted Plants

This may seem like a clichéd answer, but the best way to bring a little life into your dreary rental space is to add potted plants. Embrace the urban garden movement by storing low-maintenance plants in or on shelves, drawers, walls or even those plastic shoe racks you hang on the back of your door. You’ll have your space spruced up in no time. 

6. Oversized Wall Art

Another ingenious way to get around messing with your dorm or apartment walls is to create oversized wall art. All you need is a large canvas, a quirky fabric or shower curtain design, some wallpaper paste and those always useful Command hooks to successfully mount a glorious piece of wall art. This will definitely lessen the glare from your plain white walls. 

7. Elegant Flower Décor

Add a fresh look to a drab wall or door frame by taping fake flowers to the walls or creating a floral border around your door. You can also use a clothesline and clothespins to clip and hang flowers from the walls or ceiling. Take it a step further by constructing your own paper flowers spritzed with perfume for a homey scent.

8. Instagram Wall Art

Clothesline, clothespins and tape also come in handy for turning your favorite Instagram shots into stunning wall art.

9. Wall-Mounted Fold Down Table

Wall-mounted tables are excellent for saving space while fashioning a practical and stylish work area. Priced at around $40, these tables can be a bit of splurge, but with easy instructions for constructing and removing the table, you won’t regret it.

10. Removable Wallpaper

Removable wallpaper is the ultimate way to spruce up blank walls, and there are endless possibilities for designs. Even though removable wallpaper costs anywhere from $15-$250, this is a safer bet than creating your own homemade wallpaper paste. The store-bought stuff won’t leave a stain on your walls.

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Emme Raus


Emme Raus is studying for her B.F.A. in writing with a minor in creative writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She studies at the SCAD Atlanta campus and loves her dog Jerry.
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