Dressing Up a Dorm Room

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I live with my best friend in a dorm room here on campus. We love living together, but we wish there was more we could do about the space. It’s not a terrible spot (I’m not complaining about the accommodations!) but we’d both like to make it a bit more “our own” by decorating.

But I don’t really like the look of dorm room decorations. Posters and thumbtacks feel kind of cheap and juvenile to me. I want things to look a bit more put-together, but I also know that we can’t do anything drastic in a dorm room that doesn’t actually belong to us. Any tips?

Decorating your living space can be a fun challenge, and succeeding can lead to fantastic rewards. A more pleasant and beautiful space actually has a measurable effect on our happiness, studies show, so it pays to pay attention to how you’re living!

In the case of your dorm room decor, you face two basic challenges: your space is relatively small, and you don’t own the property. Both of these problems have been around for a long time, and neither is limited to college students – for instance, you’ll find plenty of tasteful design choices in tiny, rented apartments in cities like New York and San Francisco!

When dealing with small spaces, one key is organization. Experts recommend minimizing your possessions and clutter, then using your organizational tools as statement pieces – with the right containers and shelving, storage solutions can look great in plain view. You can also use hidden storage (such as under-bed storage) to create more space on the sly.

As for the fact that your space is now your own, you’ll have to speak to your university about what is and isn’t allowed. But you should know that there are plenty of great techniques and materials for making temporary changes to rented space. Designers recommend things like wall tape and temporary wallpaper to bring life to walls, and don’t forget how much you can do with the colors and patterns you choose for pillows, blankets, rugs, and other big, bold items that help define your small space. And make use of great wall hangings, too: there’s a reason that posters are so popular in college.

But wait: you were particularly concerned about the quality of your decor, and specifically swore off posters. That’s okay: there are affordable options for classing up your wall hangings. The pros at SimpleCanvasPrints.com suggest canvas prints, which can act as posters with a bit more “class” and can be custom-printed, too – perfect for displaying a photo of friends without having to rely on thumb-tacks and cheap pharmacy photo printing. Other options including getting posters framed (an affordable step that takes away a bit of that “dorm-room declasse”) or opting for fabric wall hangings.

Perfecting a small indoor space can be tough, but it’s also a rewarding challenge. Good luck!

“If you love something, it will work. That’s the only real rule.” – Bunny Williams

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