Decorating your dorm room in a minimalist style is a challenge: you have a lot of things and very little space to store them.
If you're heading off to college for the first time, you've most likely spent the weeks gathering all of the essentials. You've scooped up some twin extra-long sheets and new towels, have grabbed healthy snacks to keep on hand for late night study sessions, and have chatted with your roommate about who's picking up the mini fridge. And if it's a return year for you, you already have plenty of dorm supplies and are likely acquiring more.
But prepping a dorm room isn't just about covering the basics—you'll want to take some time to design a space that will bring you joy over the next year and help you feel more at home as you settle into a new environment. Moving out of the house can be daunting, but ending your day in a space that you absolutely love may make the transition to college feel a little more seamless, after all.
While the dorm rooms we see on TV are often cluttered with photos, posters, and accessories of all kinds, there's nothing wrong with taking a more minimalist approach as you design your space. If you're thinking that going the minimalist route sounds kind of boring, think again. Note that being a minimalist doesn't have to equate to eliminating color entirely. You can still decorate with your favorite hues, hang up some artwork, and pick out some fun throw pillows. You'll just want to be mindful about not overwhelming your room with too many decorative accents or letting a mountain of papers accumulate on your desktop.
Interest piqued? We've rounded up 30 amazing dorm rooms and college apartments that prove that there's nothing wrong with minimalist style. Read on to gather tons of tips and tricks that will majorly come in handy.
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Hang a Soothing Art Piece
Rather than plastering your dorm or apartment wall with posters galore, select just one special art piece that speaks to you and hang it above your bed. You'll thank yourself when you arrive back to the dorm after a long day of classes and your sleeping nook feels soothing and not overwhelming. If abstract art like this appeals to you, note that you can also DIY a piece of your own using canvas and paint from the craft store. There's no right or wrong way to make an abstract art piece, so you certainly don't need to be a pro to try your hands at a project like this one. In fact, this could even be an activity that you do with your new roommate.
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Choose a Few Fave Colors
Sticking to one color scheme will ensure that your dorm room looks aesthetically pleasing yet not overwhelming. Pink, white, and gray is a no-fail combo, particularly if you appreciate the frilly things in life.
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Place Beauty Items on a Tray
Rather than stuffing your beauty products haphazardly in a desk drawer, display your most often used bottles on a cute tray. Here, perfume double as decor and is easy to spritz on prior to rushing out the door for class.
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Stash Extra Belongings Under Your Bed
Add risers to your bed and use the space underneath to hide things like kitchenware, sports equipment, and out of season clothing. Simply pick up a bed skirt that's long enough to conceal all of this necessary (but unsightly) clutter, and you're golden. You could even consider sliding your mini fridge under your bed.Continue to 5 of 30 below.
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Keep Basic Bedding Simple
Keep your core bedding simple then have a bit of fun with colorful throw pillows. These vibrant pieces add energy to any dorm, yet the overall result is far from chaotic due to the solid colors that are also at play.
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Curate Your Nightstand
We know, it's all too easy to let your nightstand become a dumping ground for electronics, makeup, and candy wrappers. But you'll want to train yourself to tuck (or throw) these items away before they clutter up your sleep space. Keep your nightstand distraction-free by setting out only the essentials you'll reach for every evening. Don't forget a lamp for late night reading in bed.
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Upgrade Everyday Frames
Even if you don't want to go all out with art, there are ways to make your favorite pieces look a little more eye-catching. Hanging frames with navy blue ribbon is a great way to introduce elements of traditional style into your dorm room, for example.
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Have a Black and White Moment
Have a passion for fashion? Celebrate it in your dorm room! Here, a black and white space looks chic, sophisticated, and most importantly, nice and uncluttered.Continue to 9 of 30 below.
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Set Up a Darling Reading Nook
If you're the type of person who enjoys studying at home versus camping out in the library, you'll want to set yourself up for success in your dorm room. A cute reading nook makes tackling that latest novel feel less burdensome; this one is nice and simple with an end table in sight, which is perfect for accompanying a mug of coffee. Homework just got way more chill.
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Pay Attention to the Little Details
Go ahead and elevate your basic items. Instead of a clunky plastic hamper, opt for a sweet woven basket to hold your laundry. And why settle for blah blinds when you can install dreamy sheer curtains? Little details like these will go a long way in making your minimalist dorm room feel more like home.
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Let Your Painted Walls Talk
If you're lucky enough to live in a dorm room with colorful walls, why not let that hue shine? Keeping wall decor to a minimum will make your room feel more airy and serene.
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Make it Matchy
A symmetrical dorm room will look much more cohesive than one that features a mix of colors and styles. If your roommate is on board, consider coordinating your bedding and accessories for a sophisticated, streamlined look.Continue to 13 of 30 below.
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Stick to Solid Colored Furniture
Keeping your basic furnishings white and adding color through accessories is always a smart approach. If your style changes during your time at college, you can simply swap in some new wall hangings and pillow covers without having to part with your larger pieces.
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Look for Lucite
Lucite furniture, which has been around for several decades and continues to be on trend, is always a great choice when you're designing a minimalist dorm room. A see-through chair like this one takes up such little visual space yet offers tons of function. A chair like this one is light weight enough to move as needed; it can be used at the desk yet can be easily moved forward when friends stop by.
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Define Your Side of the Room
Use initial wall hangings to indicate whose side of the room is whose. This is particularly helpful if two roommates do decide to opt for matching bedding and accessories. Initials like these can be purchased at many different craft stores, and for a little extra oomph, you can paint them or jazz them up with pearls or glitter.
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Pick Your Top Pieces
In a minimalist space, you'll want to really love all of the pieces you're using—if they aren't serving you, they can go. When it comes to basics like frames, pick out pieces that you'll actually enjoy showcasing. A faux bamboo frame is a gorgeous alternative to your typical big box store pick and doesn't appear too busy. Fill one with a favorite photograph, or pick out a digital download online and print it out from the comfort of your room.Continue to 17 of 30 below.
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Try This Gallery Wall Trick
If you choose to hang a gallery wall, opting to solely print out black and white photos will keep your room looking more streamlined. A series of fashion photos shines in this dorm room.
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Cover the Clutter
Bye-bye, cords and unsightly school supplies! Add a skirted feature to your dorm room desk to hide all of the essential but non-aesthetic things that you need to keep on hand. This is also a smart, affordable way to jazz up dorm room furniture that has surely seen better days.
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String lights are comforting and cheerful, no matter the season. Hanging these on the wall is a great alternative to artwork if you're looking for a bit of sparkle without tons of color.
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Grab Some Green Friends
Don't forget a few pops of green! Plants and minimalist spaces go hand in hand. Scoop up a few succulents and a larger plant or two to round out your common space.Continue to 21 of 30 below.
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Not looking to keep a real plant alive all semester long? We feel you. If you're still craving a bit of nature, consider hanging up some faux vines for a boho chic look.
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Make it Boho Style
Simple boho touches jazz up this dorm room in a way that is still minimalist friendly. Don't forget to add a bit of texture; rattan pieces are excellent in this case. A large mirror like this one will reflect sunlight, too.
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Think Textured and Neutral
There's nothing wrong with a neutral! Here, textured neutral bedding is both cool looking and calming. A chunky blanket is perfect for nights when you just want to stay in and curl up while watching a TV show.
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Style a Wreath
Don't be afraid to hang a wreath indoors—this boxwood one exudes major style. Faux wreaths will last for years on end and can easily be stashed away with the rest of your dorm supplies during the summer. Small pops of green prevent this gray and white room from feeling too bland or dreary.Continue to 25 of 30 below.
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Go Double Duty
In a minimalist dorm room, the less furniture, the better. Here, a lucite trunk serves as both a nightstand and a place to store extra bedding. You could also use a trunk like this one for sweaters, towels, or scarves.
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Camouflage a Dresser or Desk
We never cease to be amazed by how many ways you can use removable wallpaper to transform a space. Utilize it on a dresser to camouflage a (possibly scratched up!) wooden piece, as seen here. White is a great hue for a minimalist dorm room, of course, but you could also try a soft blue or gray. When the school year comes to an end, simply peel it off and toss.
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We often hear that "more is more," but rather than going all out with small decorative accessories, pick just a few pieces that really speak to you. A woven tray, for example, is an accent piece that's also super practical, and a vase can easily be styled with each season. In a common area, focus on incorporating colors and patterns that all of your roommates appreciate.
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Place a Tray on Your Desk
Keep that dorm desk nice and organized by using various trays to corral loose items. At the end of each day, make it a priority to file away papers and tuck supplies back inside drawers.Continue to 29 of 30 below.
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Hang a Calendar
Hang a calendar and pinboard above your desk so that the actual surface can stay relatively bare. Something that's dry erase can come in handy when plans change. Both of these systems make it easy to keep track of various notes and reminders, too—they'll literally be right in front of your face, so you have no excuses.
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Display a Diptych
Search for a diptych that you love and then hang the two pieces of art above your bed. Depending on how big the pieces are, you could even style them so that they provide the illusion of a headboard (most dorm rooms don't have those!). Here, blue and white art complements the bedding and area rug perfectly and makes this dorm room appear more finished.