Dorm Decor Lessons: 7 Ideas for Decorating Small Spaces

IKEA US blogger collaboration

This post is brought to you by IKEA and Her Campus Media.

Fall semester is around the corner, and it means that it’s time to upgrade your apartment or a dorm room for the upcoming semester. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to home décor, I’m looking for Insta-friendly, playful accessories that will bring character to the room without making it too crowded. Another crucial moment is that I always try decorating on a budget, as there are plenty of affordable (and cute!) options available out there. Today I’m collaborating with IKEA and Her Campus to share some of the ideas on how to decorate your room for the upcoming college season, so your living space looks cute and inspires you to be a more diligent student.

But before we begin, let me tell you a few words about the concept that stands behind the room decor we created for the video below. The idea was to reflect my feminine style through the room decor that incorporates soft pastel shades and natural textures. There is an entire section of the IKEA website dedicated to Playful Pastels which contains affordable and chic furniture and home decor items that fit the idea of creating a “modern sophistication on the budget style.” As probably for many of you, the majority of the furniture in my house is already from IKEA, so it was great to explore the assortment of decor pieces by the brand that helps to turn a plain room into a creative and super inspiring space.

As you see in the video, it took just a few moments and a couple of decor pieces for turning a boring bed/lounge area into a cozy and stylish space. Below, I provide some of the tips that I learned while working on this project on how to turn any bed into your dream space — with the help of the newest décor items by IKEA!

IKEA decor - how to decorate a shelf

Tip #1: Use Mood Boards for Inspiration

Start your decoration project from creating a mood board where you select a few dominant colors for your room and a few supporting shades. For instance, you could pick the black and white theme and choose pink and red shades for the accents. Or, just like we did in the video, you could choose pastels as your primary palette and make cobalt blue and white your supporting shades. Make sure to cut out a few images from your favorite design magazines or print out a few photos from Pinterest just to make sure that the colors you picked look great together. By investing a few extra minutes into creating a mood board, you ensure that all of the items in your room match, which helps to create a uniform and stylish look for the room.

IKEA - dorm storage solutions

Tip #2: Think About Adding Storage

Since we are talking about decorating a small space, it’s crucial to think about ways for adding extra storage to your room. Perhaps, the easiest way to do so is to pick a few sleek boxes to store some of your things — so these are out of your way. In my opinion, the best way to make your room look organized is to eliminate all the items from the surfaces that are not serving decorating purposes. For instance, it’s totally fine to leave your beautiful books and makeup brushes out, but such items as grocery receipts and keys make space look cluttered, so it’s better to hide them.

DIY dorm decor idea - pink polka dot palm leaves

As you saw in the video, we used TJENA boxes from IKEA that go for under five bucks — these are such small investment pieces that will dramatically change the appearance of your room. Feel free to use these boxes with or without the lid — depending what type of items you are planning on storing in them. Either way, your room will look so much neater if you organize some of your goodies into boxes.

Rocket Dog pink velvet sneakers

Tip #3: Make It Cozy

For the longest time, I didn’t have any rugs in my room as I felt that these just absorb dust and do nothing for the vibe of the room. Well, I can’t even explain how wrong I was! The moment I upgraded my beauty room with a cozy faux fur rug from IKEA, the vibe of the room has changed — from an office-like environment it turned into a cozy and welcoming space. As you see in the video, we used the same faux fur rug layered with a contrasting blue carpet to create a soft and multidimensional look. The best part about this trick is that you could use the carpet you already have in your room and simply combine it with some faux fur accent to create the similar look.

IKEA dorm decor - how to decorate a bed

Tip #4: Mix and Match Textures

This next trick is all about your pillows that are, in case you didn’t know, the major focal point in any room. Prior to working on the IKEA video, I thought that pillows should be like a family — all in the same color range with a few variations. As it turned out, mixed and matched pillows look even cuter than your typical monochrome combo. Same goes for pillow textures — delicate pillows will look even softer if combined with fluffy ones. After shooting this video, I’m planning on rethinking the pillow situation in my house — with the cutest selection of IKEA pillows.

IKEA x StyleSprinter - NYC based blogger collaboration

Tip #5: Become a DIYer

While at the shoot, I learned so many adorable and affordable ways to make your everyday home items stand out. All it takes is to use your imagination and think about incorporating more color into the design of your room.

DIY dorm decor idea - pink polka dot palm leaves

For instance, one of the girls working with me on the set, Molly, came out with the idea of putting pink and blue polka dots onto faux palm leaves — it’s such an easy to repeat idea, but what a difference it makes to the appearance of the room!

DIY painted pineapple decor idea

Same goes for pineapples colored in pink — with the help of just one can of spray paint you could turn these fruits into real art objects. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try incorporating some do-it-yourself projects into your living space — as you see in the video, such approach really helps to make your room look so much more unique.

IKEA hack - light string clothes rack

Tip #6: The Light Theory

Perhaps, the easiest way to make any room look a bit cozier is to incorporate light strings into your interior. Whether you pick to decorate your clothes rack with medium sized light bulbs, put on a delicate string of lights on some of the decor items (like in the case with our DIY pink pineapple), or use light clips to secure and illuminate mini photos — extra light will make your room feel more magical and fun.

DIY painted pineapple decor idea

Tip #7: Make It Personal

If you live far from home while in college, try bringing some of the family memories by incorporating nostalgic items into your room decor. Whether it’s a photo of your family in a cute photo frame or just souvenirs that make you think about some of your travels, find the way to display these items because they truly help any four walls feel like a real home.

* * * * *

That was it for my tips on how to decorate your college dorm or a small apartment on a budget. I hope you were able to find some new creative ideas that would be helpful for making your home decor stand out. Just one last recommendation here: check out the Back to College Section on the IKEA website for inspiration — there are so many easy decor ideas out there.

I wonder how are you planning on decorating your room for the upcoming semester? Feel free to share your favorite room decor tips in the comments area below.

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  1. Michelle Gil Santini wrote:

    I love IKEA I think most of my bedroom stuff are from IKEA except the white faux rug. One of the reason why I love IKEA is that it affordable, has lot of cute storage and gives you idea how you want to decorate your bedroom also I will definitely add a pink pineapple, maybe I will add glitter


    Posted 7.30.17
  2. Shireen wrote:

    I love Ikea but Mr. Platt is not a huge fan of the clean Scandinavian look. I’m still learning how to mix patterns and textures, i know it can look amazing when done right.

    Shireen⎜Reflection of Sanity

    Posted 7.29.17
  3. Gorgeous, I love your style! http;//

    Posted 7.26.17
  4. That’s what I’ve heard too! Also supposedly if you use clear furniture (like a clear chair with a faux fur throw on it) it also helps to make the space look bigger!

    Posted 7.26.17
  5. Thank you for your support, Alyssa!

    Posted 7.26.17
  6. Thank you, Keri! xoxo

    Posted 7.26.17
  7. Awww thank you for your support!

    Posted 7.26.17
  8. Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it!

    Posted 7.26.17
  9. Thank you darling! Yep, the plant was amazing – and so cute!

    Posted 7.26.17
  10. Thank you so much, Yiota! Me too – love decorating so much! Also it’s so much easier to decorate with IKEA as they have so many colorful and cute pieces! In fact, I never left the store empty-handed as I just adore all of the IKEA designs!

    Posted 7.26.17
  11. Thank you for reading! SO glad you enjoyed the post!

    Posted 7.26.17
  12. Violette wrote:

    So pretty decoration! Thanks for the tips and inspo!

    Posted 7.26.17
  13. Yiotou_La wrote:

    Great inspiration Katya, I love to mix and match patterns and colours and most of my furniture are from Ikea too. Making our space feel cozy and giving our own personal touch is really important. Great job :)


    Posted 7.26.17
  14. i love your photography and that faux monstera plant!

    Posted 7.25.17
  15. Jennifer Weltz wrote:

    This was a great post!

    Posted 7.25.17
  16. Crystal Simmons wrote:

    Gorgeous post! I must show my daughter!

    Posted 7.25.17
  17. Sam wrote:

    I loved the idea of putting pink and blue dots on the faux leaves! I’m in the process of revamping my closet and makeup collection and probably after I’ll work on my whole room, but I’ve heard adding mirrors into a small space can help make it look bigger and more spacious!

    Sam / My Beauty Cloud

    Posted 7.25.17
  18. Awesome! So great it was helpful!

    Posted 7.25.17
  19. Alyssa wrote:

    These are great tips! I suddenly miss my college days :)

    xx Alyssa // STYLE VANITY

    Posted 7.25.17
  20. Keri H wrote:

    Omg you are a room decorating genius!! You really transformed the space and added such character :)

    Enclothed Cognition

    Posted 7.25.17
  21. Kris wrote:

    I’m moving away for uni soon and I’ll definitely use these!

    Have a lovely day,

    xx Kris

    Posted 7.25.17
  22. Awww thanks so much, Rena!

    Posted 7.25.17
  23. Thank you so much, Ray! Well, I believe these decor ideas are actually relevant for any home decor project! I mean, who doesn’t have IKEA furniture or decor in their house? I do!

    Posted 7.25.17
  24. Ray wrote:

    Love fhese decor ideas. I wish I saw this before I graduated.

    Posted 7.25.17
  25. Dressed With Soul wrote:

    I have to admit is is very beautiful and I love also your outfit so much!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    Posted 7.25.17


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