20 small space décor ideas you can steal from dorm rooms.


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20 small space décor ideas you can steal from dorm rooms.

By emily.bailey

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Small space decor ideas | Schlage

You may not be eating, sleeping, studying and socializing in one room like a college student, but you can still take a page from their book for your own small space décor.



They’re the ones going back to school, but you can learn something too if you keep an open mind. Even though you aren’t eating, sleeping, studying and socializing in one room like a college student, still take a page from their book for your own small space décor. Class is in session.

1. Easy on the wallet and floorplan

When space is at a premium, more is not always better. If you’re tired of the same old look but don’t have the room to add something new, or can’t afford to, DIY your existing furniture. Lots of dorm room tips suggest temporary wallpaper on dresser drawers for some color and pizzazz. Because you actually own your furniture, don’t be afraid to try a fresh coat of paint, or use Apartment Therapy’s how-to guide to updating drawer pulls.

2. One thing fits all

If you purchase new furniture, choose multipurpose pieces. Whatever takes up valuable space better be multitasking. Think about ottomans, the quintessential storage/seating/coffee table/footstool piece. Or, and hang in there with us because it’s not as lame as you think, a daybed. One of these posh options from The Chriselle Factor definitely won’t be found in the average dorm.

3. On the move

Especially if a piece is multifunctional, you might need it to move around. Find furniture that’s mobile so you can transport it easily when it’s a bar cart in the kitchen, a nightstand in the bedroom, a makeup tray in the bathroom and a side table in the living room.

4. Flip-flop furniture

Rearrange the furniture you do have. Sometimes just shifting the chair from under the window to beside the bookcase and swapping the end table to the other side of the couch can open up space you didn’t even know you had.

5. Beautiful hues

College students can’t paint their walls, so they rely on colorful pillows and other accessories. Use that same strategy for brightening up your small space. A few strategically placed eye-catching pieces can make a big difference. And don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns.

6. Gorgeous coming and going

There’s a reason so many dorm room ideas on Pinterest suggest using washi tape to decorate the door. Leave the temporary tape alone and try a more sophisticated approach to making your door – something that’s already there and not taking up valuable space – a beautiful focal point of your home. Choose a unique color, add molding for visual detail or opt for a glass insert to allow light to shine through. Check out these tips for making a hollow core door look more expensive.

7. Light it up

Make small spaces feel larger by adding light. Even if your home has overhead lighting, add lamps for their function as well as their décor possibilities.

8. Now you see it

We often suggest adding mirrors to foyers because they tend to be darker and cramped. Mirrors work for other rooms in your house as well. They reflect light and trick the eye into thinking there’s more space than there is.

9. Sophisticated splurge

Avoid your small space feeling like a dorm by choosing high-quality materials. Furniture that will last, lush fabrics or luxurious bedding will give you a sophisticated feel. (No one has ever felt posh eating off paper or plastic plates.) And because your space is small, it can be more cost effective to splurge on the quality goods than if you’re decorating a great room.

10. Worthy windows

Do you know who doesn’t put curtains on their windows? Prisons. Add window treatments to soften a room and make it feel like somewhere you actually want to be. They won’t take up much space and the perfect color or pattern can change the mood. If you hang your curtains high, you can also create the illusion that your windows are bigger.

11. The joy of cleaning

Clutter is the enemy of small spaces, so organization is vital. A family command center to keep messages and schedules straight, drawer bins to contain all those bathroom baubles or stylish baskets to wrangle school supplies can help keep the room feeling larger.

12. Unobstructed views

Move things off the countertops, which can make any space feel overrun with clutter, and hang them on the backs of doors, inside cabinets or even behind drapes. Society 19 uses hooks for hairdryers, but you could do the same with baskets for snacks on the inside of a kitchen cabinet, keys in an entryway or brooms in a narrow garage or utility closet. Use Command hooks if nail holes are a turnoff.

13. Shining personality

A key to making any small space not feel sterile – a risk when you try to keep clutter to a minimum – is to intentionally add homey touches. Each accessory or piece of artwork should have personal or significant meaning. Family photos are a can’t-miss in this department.

14. Go for green

Plants go a long way toward making a home, whether it’s a dorm or your permanent residence, feel like an actual home. Hanging planters or these living walls bring the green without taking up too much space. And a DIY painted pot can add a personal touch.

15. Working undercover

All the area rugs are too big or too tiny for your space, you say? Then customize your look with a collection of smaller ones. Piece together multiple of the same design or layer rugs that contrast for a quirkier look.

16. Sharing is caring

Sometimes roommates in an 8x12 dorm need their space, and sometimes you want to separate the bed from the desk. Popular in guest room-office combos, a well-chosen room divider can do wonders. HGTV suggests a cubed bookcase. It provides separation without totally closing off the room and making it feel claustrophobic. It also gives ample opportunities for decoration.

17. Charming displays

If you have beautiful things – jewelry, scarves, decorative glass – there’s no rule that says you have to keep them hidden away. China cabinets have glass panels for a reason. Use crates or shadow boxes to display them when they’re not in use.

18. Up, down and all around

Not everything needs to be at eye level. Place higher shelving over the toilet, for example. Use that space between the top of the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling. Move a nightstand or shelves over the bed. Or go lower and install storage below the bed. As The Budget Decorator shows us, it doesn’t have to be plastic bins, and thank goodness for that.

19. Stunning hangout

Tapestry as wall art doesn’t have to be frat house tie-dye. With Bohemian modern being so stylish now, there’s no shortage of gorgeous patterned textiles you can hang to create a dramatic focal point without taking up much room. We also like these library-themed tapestries. (Maybe there’s some college nostalgia in us after all.)

20. Good-looking nook

If your small space is unusually shaped or you have a nook tucked in somewhere, transform it into something uniquely you. It won’t take much to turn an awkward corner into a cozy reading lounge, a workspace, a den for Fido or a spot to showcase your favorite collections.


Small space décor doesn’t have to be boring and because you’re a grown-up, it definitely shouldn’t look like you’re in a dorm room. For more inspiration for spaces of any size, follow Schlage on Pinterest and Instagram.