How to Decorate Your Dorm Room With Color

How to Decorate Your Dorm Room With Color

constantgardener/E+ / Getty Images

When you step into your dorm room for the first time, it may feel like an overwhelmingly plain space with nothing but white walls everywhere you look. This is actually a good thing. Think of it as a fabulous blank canvas that you can transform with your own style.

Decorating a dorm room could be your first experience with making all the design decisions on your own—and that’s just the beginning of what makes decorating your dorm room so awesome.

Start With a Color Palette

Those white walls and plain surfaces are good news. Really. That means you are free to create any decorating color palette that shows off your style. Before you run out to shop for your room, make a plan for the colors you’ll be using. Creating a mood board can help you envision your dorm room’s color scheme. Studying your pins on Pinterest is another great way to discover which colors and styles you’re naturally drawn to.

A Dorm Room Is Like a Tiny House

Decorating your dorm room is like decorating a tiny home. You will sleep there, entertain there, study, and might even prepare food. All of the usual rooms in a home are combined in your dorm room, and you will most likely be sharing the space.

When you’re dreaming up decorating ideas, consider the functions first to help you make the best choices. Color is a great way to separate an area visually when you’ll be living in a multi-purpose space. Once you plan your color scheme, decide which colors represent sleep and relaxation, studying, and entertaining and socializing. By creating little mini-palettes for each room function, your dorm room can feel more like a tiny house than a shared bedroom.

Sharing Color Space

Most likely you’ll be in a shared room. You will be creating your decorating plans and doing your shopping before you even know how the roommates will be furnishing their spaces. That’s okay! Your little corner of the world is all about your style and your color choices. By decorating with a small palette of colors in the right places, you can personalize your area easily and make it distinct in the shared room.

Use Color Like a Rockstar

When you’re moving into a plain room, shared or not, color is going to be your decorating secret weapon. Every little thing that you purchase for your room should be part of an overall decorating plan. If you’re buying a wastebasket, a throw pillow, or even a bed skirt, make it count. Choose everything using your color palette, so that your space looks pulled together and planned out (in a super creative way.) Whether your style is glam or boho, it’s the colors that will make it look cohesive.

Tips and Tricks

It may seem like color can't do much for a small dorm room, but these tricks prove that even a little color can make a big impact. 

  • Keep your color palette simple. Using fewer colors will make your small space feel less cluttered, and make more of an impact. Use your colors in a deliberate way, in a small room every detail counts.
  • Choose colors you really love. Don’t feel pressured to use bright colors if that is not really your style. Though most “dorm decor” is featured in bright colors and graphics, if your taste is more subtle, choose a neutral color for your biggest decor items (like your comforter and pillows,) and use brighter colors as accents.
  • Shop outside the “dorm room” displays. It’s a great merchandising approach to dedicate an entire area to the dorm-themed decor. Retailers offer lots of bedding sets designed to appeal to college students, along with cute accessories. To get a more custom look, choose a comforter first, then take time to wander the rest of the store for accessories that are more unique and that suit your own style.