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Lexi Tokarski / Her Campus

When it comes to dorm shopping, there’s always a long checklist of the absolutely necessary items to purchase, a checklist that takes multiple trips to both Bed Bath and Beyond AND Target to complete. Lamp? Shoe Rack? Tide Pods? Swiffer? Check, check, and check. But despite the monotony that preparing for college can be, it’s important to make your space your own and to not leave out decor and other optional items to give your room some personality. Now that you’ve settled into college and have acquired the essentials, it might be time to add in some of the extras. While tapestries, fairy lights, and art prints are popular choices, here are HC writers’ unconventional dorm decor finds to give you some inspo you might not have even considered: 

Samantha Barth '21:

“It’s taken me until my junior year to determine the best method to store my shower caddy and wet toiletry bottles, but I finally figured out a solution that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing. If you managed not to store your wooden drawers under the bed, I suggest you do what I did and buy a bath mat to put on top of your dresser and store all of your toiletries there. It adds a pop of color and texture to my room but is also functional because the bath mat soaks up the water, keeping it from getting everywhere and keeping my furniture from getting ruined. My favorite non-functional decor item is this geometric metal garland I purchased at Target. They also have some cute ones at Urban Outfitters. I prefer a garland to fairy lights because it just stands out more, and I never have to think about turning it on and replacing the batteries.” 

Elizabeth Berry '21:


“Although I am a fan of photo walls composed of string, polaroids, and fairy lights (guilty as charged), in sophomore year, I discovered the beauty of magnets. If you are fortunate enough to have a mini (or real) refrigerator in your dorm room or apartment, I suggest you jazz up that plain surface with your own flair. Over the years, I have acquired a vast collection of magnets ranging from Valentine’s gifts from my mom, #feminism, homemade magnets from a wedding, and a European themed set I received during the holidays. Although different, these magnets somehow go together. In addition to the magnets, I also print out “food-related” photos from my travels — see photos of fruit, eggs, pizza, and wine below — to enhance my refrigerator even more. This year I even hung up a menu from a restaurant I went to during an exchange program I did in Italy last summer. If you follow these tips, your boring refrigerator can become a key accessory in your dorm room!"

Meggie Mammadzada '23:

“My favorite way to spruce up the dull atmosphere that comes with most college dorms is to use plants. The main rule of thumb is that you can never have too many of them. If you’re like me and can’t be held responsible for even the most low-maintenance succulents, fake plants are always a good option (and usually cheaper anyway). It’s been proven that surrounding yourself with plants elevates your mood, reduces stress, improves indoor air, and generally makes your dorm feel more like home. If you’re up for the challenge of real plants, I commend you, as maintenance can truly be a hassle for some. But the presence of beautiful living plants in your dorm is the most welcoming feeling to come home to after a long day.”

Fiona Ferry '23:

"Nothing makes me happier than my posters from home. On your break, or whenever you are home, ask your friends to create a poster of all your sweet memories together. As a freshman, it’s especially hard to leave your home life, but looking above bed reminds me of how loved I am by my day-one friends."

Viangely Asencio '20:

“During my study abroad experience in Italy, I started to regularly drink wine. So after coming back to the States, I grew accustomed to drinking wine during and after meals or just for a night out. Therefore, I now thoroughly enjoy drinking and trying out new and different kinds of wine. After drinking a bottle of wine, either by myself or with friends, I collect the wine bottles and arrange them on the upper-level section of my desk until the end of the school year. It is always a conversation starter because when people come into my room, they ask me for wine recommendations and what kind of memories are associated with each bottle of wine. Yes, this is honestly a kind of weird thing to do.”

Samantha Jones '23:


“Decorating my dorm as a freshman was something I waited four years to do. I watched all the dorm move-in vlogs on YouTube, scoured Pinterest and did some serious research on what I wanted my dorm’s “aesthetic” to be. All this being said, my favorite (and weirdest) piece of dorm decor was an impulse buy. In the check out line of Bed Bath & Beyond I noticed a colorfully packaged laser projector sitting on a shelf next to the cashier. This thing was tiny, and only $9, so I bought it on a whim and didn’t think of it again until move-in day. This laser projector isn’t larger than my hand, but when I plugged it in and angled it towards the ceiling, it covered my dorm in tiny blue orbs of light. They looked like stars. This impulse buy is by far my favorite part of my dorm, and wasn’t one I was planning on getting.” 

Angela Cao '23:


“Ever feel stress or just want to breathe in some fresh air in your room? I know I do, especially during homework/studying times or when it feels musty in the room. So I got an essential oil diffuser; it spreads a good aroma around the room. A perfect way to feel relief, de-stress, sleep better, and give more of a comfortable feeling. You can even pick your choice of oil for the smell. Also, it's small, therapeutic, and cute decor for your desk!”

Ellie Crowley '23:

“I was the person fully packed with everything and anything I could possibly need for college a month before move-in day. So you can imagine the panic I felt when I got a text from my friend asking me how I was storing my jewelry, and me realizing I had no idea. I immediately was searching the internet for a jewelry holder that I liked and would arrive on time. That night, I took a walk on the beach with my dad and he found a clamshell, and I realized that was the solution! Though definitely not practical to transport, I use shells to hold jewelry, hair elastics, and other sorts of knickknacks I find. Not only are they functional, but they also are a sweet reminder of home!”

Samantha is a senior at Connecticut College, double-majoring in Sociology and Economics. She is currently the Beauty Section Editor and a National Writer for Her Campus, having prior been a Beauty Editorial Intern during the summer of 2019. She is also a writer and Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Conn Coll. She is passionate about intersectional feminism, puns, and sitcoms with strong female leads.
Elizabeth Berry

Conn Coll '21

Elizabeth Berry is an English and Italian Studies double major at Connecticut College with a passion for journalism. She enjoys overnight oats, traveling to new cities, and reading the night away.
Sam Jones

Conn Coll '23

I'm a first year at Conn thinking of majoring in sociology or gender, sexuality and intersectionality studies.
Angela Cao

Conn Coll '23

Hey! I'm Angela and I am a freshman, I love to capture pictures and memories, traveling, sunsets and being a foodie! :)
Ellie Crowley

Conn Coll '23

I'm a first year at Conn from Arlington, MA planning on being an English major!
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