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Moving away from home — in every sense of the word — is a big step. But college is the perfect time and place to express yourself through dorm room decor in your new space. With a little creativity and a few favorite photos, you can make it feel familiar and fresh in all the right ways!
Here, we'll explore 11 of our favorite decor ideas for making your dorm your own — including a few that are a little off the wall (literally).
Chances are you’ll be spending lots of time at your desk in college. Between studying, writing papers, and pulling (hopefully not many) all-nighters, we guarantee you’ll always appreciate seeing faces and places you love when you look up for a brain break. Surround your work area with dorm wall decor that brings you joy at a glance. By giving yourself a moment to transport somewhere else, you just might create space for an a-ha moment!
Opt for photos that make you laugh. That silly selfie with your best friend, a shot from your family vacation — remind yourself of the support that’s behind you while you’re buried in the books. We’re here to help if you need a little guidance when selecting types of picture frames.
Nothing complements a framed photo quite like a bit of greenery. Plants have a way of livening up the look of college apartment decor, and the added physical and mental health benefits are a big bonus! There are many ways to pair plants and photo decor, but this just may be one of the easiest. Add a tabletop frame to your shelf or dresser, and find yourself a small plant to accompany it. For those who don’t have green thumbs, try a low-maintenance succulent, cactus, or snake plant — and for those who do, go wild!
Have a shot of your hometown or a cityscape? The contrast of a more urban setting versus the nature beside it is one concept you can play with for this dorm room wall decor.
We repeat: not all frames must be hung. Take this first example of two frames leaning against the wall and layered on each other, right on a table surface. Or draw inspiration from the second example, with a piece of framed art set upright on your bedroom dresser. These dorm room wall decor ideas are particularly handy when rules (or let’s be honest, effort) prevent you from drilling or hammering holes to hang!
One easy way to fill a larger frame or two is by finding free DIY wall art to feature. We’re fans of royalty-free photography or pieces from the public domain provided by museum archives.
For many of us, pets are an irreplaceable part of the family — and sometimes the ones we miss the most when away at school. The next best thing to having your furry friends right there with you is to keep your favorite photos of them around. Whether with prints on display or photo books on the shelf to flip through, seeing them around offers a much-needed sense of home.
Your dog out and about, your cat perched on the couch — capture them in their element for a daily reminder of their personality. Check out our 9 Tips to Photograph Pets for inspiration!
Of our college dorm ideas, this one may deserve some extra credit. Gallery walls are not only a great way to fill a large blank canvas, but also to display different types of pieces in one place. Gather up a few favorite photos you’ve taken, art prints, framed mirrors, or band posters for an eclectic collection. Need layout ideas? Our Gallery Wall Guide can help.
When it comes to which pictures to highlight in your gallery wall, know that you can go as diverse as you’d like: people, places, even things. With so many pieces to look at, there’s very little pressure on one single image to carry the show!
You can never have too many books in college — especially when they’re of the photo variety! Looking back on some of your favorite memories in an album can be a simple cure to a little home sickness. Or better yet, a pick-me-up rivaling a cup of coffee. Pictured here, our Everyday Photo Books have colorful, foil-stamped covers that stand out as a shelf display.
Each book can feature a different set of photos. Make some for family, travel, high school friends, pets — the stack can be as tall and sentimental as you’d like!
Much like the concept of a gallery wall with different types of art, you can take your decor one step further and add in other interesting objects or displays. Hanging hats alongside your frames, for example, can give a three-dimensional appeal (and doubles as storage!). Or mix and match the displays on your dresser to bring together art, frames, candles, and a stack of books. The right combination can keep your space interesting, while not crossing over into "clutter" territory.
With many different visual pieces coexisting in one area or surface, we suggest keeping the photo selection simple. Broad landscapes, basic colors and composition, or a black and white portrait would work nicely to supplement the overall look.
Who needs frames when you have double-sided tape? This dorm wall decor idea is a great option when you want an easy display that won’t damage your walls with nails, screws, and tacks. All you need are photo prints and something to stick them up. We love the versatility and diversity in patterns you can find with washi tape, specifically! For many more ideas like this one, read through our 15 Creative Ways to Display Photos Without Frames.
Like a gallery wall, this is a good opportunity to tell many stories in one space. Photos of friends, trips, and even fun typography (as shown here) can bring the whole look together. To give the prints a consistent aesthetic, try using the same color palette, Lightroom presets, or VSCO filters across them all!
Ah, the classic bulletin board. Low maintenance, low pressure, and endless versatility. It’s no wonder an entire social media platform was built off the concept! Pin up photos or design inspiration — and just as easily swap them out at your whim. We love that the board itself contains the organized chaos!
Think of this as a mood board. Visuals can range from selfies and camera roll gems to magazine clippings, design inspiration, show tickets, or handwritten notes.
Another simple display with minimal harm to walls is clipping Everyday Prints up to hanging string. This can be done with fairy lights, twine, or macrame — whatever you may have on hand. One perk to this dorm wall decor idea is that you can continually swap out new prints each season. Alternatively, you could just add more string!
Feature the faces and places you love, and keep fresh prints on hand to rotate photos! New friends from college, old hometown hangouts… they can all coexist in one special space.
Sometimes, getting crafty means just working with what you’ve got. Ideally, this also means reducing waste and reusing everyday items! One dorm decor idea that does all of the above is using binder clips as photo print holders. Keep them in the closed position, flip them so they stand upright on their flat surface, and slide a print right into the metal clips. These make for a minimal display that works on any shelf, dresser, or bedside table!
Keeping with the minimal look, highlight simple portraits of pets, family, and friends. You can’t go wrong!