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Decorating Do’s and Dont’s: Dorm Edition

Decorating a dorm can be incredibly overwhelming at first! Not only are you wanting to make your space cute and feel like a new home, but you also may be decorating a shared space for the first time. Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help guide you on the path to an aesthetic room, especially with a limited amount of space.


  • Do purchase pieces that perform double-duty, like a nightstand that also provides additional storage or a storage cube ottoman.
  • Use larger, lightweight items to fill a blank wall space, such as a tapestry or macrame wall hanging, instead of lots of smaller items. Less to pack, less to put up an arrange, fewer holes in the walls, and less to eventually takedown.
  • Do communicate with your roommate. Lots of items like curtains or a larger area rug can often be divided and conquered. Good roommate communication is also essential to make your room look and feel cohesive. Coordinating your essentials like bedding and decor will give your room a much better aesthetic.
  • Do add personal touches that make the space uniquely your own. You’ll feel much more comfortable if the place you spend the most time in feels familiar, and reflects your personality. A pair of curtains, twinkly lights, and photos of friends and family goes a long way in making a stark dorm room feel like home.
  • Do include a soft throw blanket for texture. It will be nice and cozy without having to unmake your entire bed. 
  • Respect your roommate’s style and space.
  • Use lamps, string lights, and diffusers to provide a softer, cozier atmosphere than harsh overhead lighting when you just want to hang out and read or watch a movie.
  • Decorative bags/baskets on top of your closet armoire can provide storage for extra toiletries or items you don’t need often (like snow clothing) while still looking nice.
  • Do find out what’s allowed and what isn’t: candles, extension cords, toaster ovens, moving the furniture, etc.
  • Use vertical storage: a higher nightstand or lightweight shelves that sit on your desk provide lots of much-needed storage and give your room height and dimension. 
  • Add a plant or two- greenery (real or faux) makes every space look better and feel warmer.


  • Don’t over-decorate. Remember what goes up must come down.
  • Don’t overdo it on the knickknacks. Space is a tight commodity in dorm rooms and shared spaces, and you’ll need a place to spread out your work and charge your phone without every surface being covered.
  • Don’t overpack. Evaluate what you really need, and what you’ll have room for. You’ll want to be able to move about your space freely, and not feel crowded. All those extra pillows that look great on a made-up bed are just annoying when they inevitably find their way to the floor.

I hope this list helps relieve some stress around the decorating aspect of moving into a dorm and gives you more time to be excited about going to college!

Gracen is currently a sophomore at CWU studying Film Production. Some of her interests include photography, making art, watching movies, and listening to music.
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