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Essential College Life Decor

Summer is winding down and Back- to- School is up and running! It’s time to start making lists of everything you’ll want to bring. After all, you’re living, or your son or daughter is living, somewhere else, full time, for at least a semester. Either way, ready or not, we’ve put together a couple of ideas on how to quickly and inexpensively decorate your new and (most likely) much smaller living space!

Before and After!

Bedding: First, make sure you’re shopping for the right size sheets. Most dorms have twin xl size mattresses. But most apartments probably have doubles or queens. Wherever you’re living, make sure you know what you should be looking for. After a day of moving and unpacking, you’ll definitely want a nicely made bed to zonk out in afterwards! 

My go-to bedding in college were jersey sheets. They’re so soft and comfy, but more importantly, easy to wash! Very low maintenance, and pretty cost effective. And a good color, for towels too, is white. Nothing looks cleaner than nice crisp, white linens, and you can bleach them! So easy. Make sure you choose a well made comforter or duvet that you really like. Something classic is best, and if you’re sharing a room, you may want to coordinate with your bunkie. I couldn’t find anything I really liked so I ended up painting a duvet cover for a comforter. Dyeing is also an option to get something just the way you like it. Finish off your bed with some comfy pillows and a throw (believe me, you’ll want the throw when you’re roommate insists on keeping the room below freezing!). You will be much more at home if you have a comfortable bed to sleep in!

Where to look- Target, Urban Outfitters, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Pottery Barn Teen all have several, fun options.

Art: Most dorms and apartments have a policy about creating lasting damage to the space you’re living in. Including the walls! But never fear, there are tons of temporary decorating solutions to remedy this.

Posters: a great, inexpensive way to cover up lots of blank wall space. Most posters are 24” x 36” and can be found at nearly any store that sells art, crafts, books etc. Hang them up with Scotch or colorful Washi tape or buy inexpensive poster frames (hang it with Command Hooks, see below) if you will want to keep the poster for longer.  

Photos: stave away homesickness with some printouts of your favorite memories from home. Vary them in size so they’re not too uniform. Slide them into some cute frames that have a hanging system on the back. Table top frames are good too, but you won’t have a lot of extra space- the more you can get off surfaces, the better!

Cork Board: these are great because not only can you tack on pictures and notes, but you can also hang lightweight things off them— a convenient place to hang your headphones or your go- to necklace. You can buy a traditional bulletin board in the frame it comes in and paint it or cover it in fabric. Or you can by a roll of sheet cork and cut it into hexagons and mount them in the shape of a honeycomb sprawling across your wall, adding visual interest and utility to your intimate space! 

Where to look: you can find original art and prints from places like Etsy, Society6, and Fy. Office Depot or Walmart will have the cork board.

A Rug: No matter what your flooring situation, whether it be freezing cold concrete, or dull, Brillo- like carpet, you will wish you had a rug to add some comfort, color, and personality to your space. Choose something durable and in a dark color to mask any wear and tear and stains it may incur through the school year.

Curtains: Again, another way to make your space more you! Trust me- go for the black-out kind!

Other Items to make your life easier and to spruce up your space even more:

Lamp: seems obvious, but make sure you choose one that’s not too dim in case you need to use it for reading or studying.

A Coffee Maker: if you need caffeine to get out of bed in the morning, go ahead and buy one. If you have an early class, it might be a while until you can get some. And you may need a late night pick- me- up during your all nighter when everywhere else is closed.

A Printer: there will undoubtedly be printing facilities throughout your campus, but this will definitely come in handy for last minute drafts and any scanning and copying you may have to do. When you’re so busy with everything else, things like having a printer are all about ease and convenience.

Command Hooks: These are amazing! You can get any size you need to hang whatever you need up to 6-7 pounds! Hang pictures! String lights! Get your coat and keys off the floor! Hang a curtain rod! Get it all up on a wall so that it’s easily accessible and not eating up valuable table to floor real estate.

Don’t forget other items like a hamper (for hauling your laundry to and fro), under bed storage, a power strip, and various cleaners and soaps.


This was obviously not a comprehensive list by any means, but I hope we were able to give you at least a couple of ideas to spruce up your new place. No matter how you decide to decorate your space, just remember to talk to over with your roomie first to decide on decor if need be and figure out how to split the cost. Then, shop around and find what you like!

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