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Non-Permanent Dorm Decor Ideas

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Getty

We know the drill: packing up and heading off to college is a stressful time, and decorating your walls isn’t exactly your first priority. When you first get to school, you’ll be tempted to ransack your campus poster sale — the beginning-of-the-year shopping event that encourages you to browse a pre-determined selection of posters. It’s the fodder of so many shame-inducing Buzzfeed quizzes and secondhand embarrassment (yes, you can truly tell so much about a person based on the poster they select).

Today we implore you to avoid the poster sale at all costs — an oversized image of the Eiffel Tower, Audrey Hepburn or Van Gogh is seriously so tired — and avoid being a college cliche! We’ve got the tips to help you achieve a more unique dorm look, while staying safely within the regulations that your new space imposes on you (i.e. no nails). Yes, you can let your personality shine and follow the rules at school, with just a little help from us. You may feel limited while restricted from making any (fun!) permanent changes, but really, the decorating world is your oyster. Read on for tips on how to make the most of your new space.

Get Friendly With The Right Materials

You made a lot of friends in high school, but get ready to meet your new college besties: Sticky Tack and washi tape. You’re gonna love these two for so many reasons: they promise to not ruin walls, they streamline the process of wall decorating, and in the case of patterned washi tape, they add just a little something extra visually. You’re about to get real familiar with these two as you prepare to decorate the walls of your dorm.

Postcards Are King

Postcards are the unsung heroes of easy, cheap decor. Seriously. Museum postcards are some of the best things you can purchase in a house of high culture — they’re across-the-board cheap souvenirs and maybe the easiest and most cost-effective way to bring some real art into your space. Postcards are also the perfect way to “collect” while you travel without going broke. You can also grab them from your hometown for a cool, offbeat reminder of home. Gather these before you head off to school — when you arrive at your new dorm, use sticky tack to temporarily paste them up on a section of your wall. You can do kooky shapes (a circle of postcards would be so rad) but a straightforward grid is also great.

Creative Photo Ideas

Photos of family and friends are a necessary part of your new surroundings. Grab cool stand-alone frames at your favorite shop and decorate your desk or dresser. Use colored or patterned washi tape to create fun add-ons (a heart around your high school beau’s face?!) that will also keep your pics hanging up there. The patterns will add even more interest to your wall without ruining it.

Recycle With Purpose

Just because you’re in a dorm now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t decorate like you’re at home — within reason. Don’t be afraid to pull out the best high-fashion advertisements (or other inspiring photography) and tack them up on your wall. Scour thrift shops for vintage magazines for an extra edge. Start a collection. Love going to the movies, seeing live music or fancy yourself a real museum rat? Save those admission tickets and post them in a cool geometric pattern on your wall. Think of it as an alternative (and truly 3D) collage.

Decor AND Organization

Investing in a cork board or white board for your dorm wall is a no-brainer — these are exceptional tools for keeping you organized and on top of it during the school year. But how can you elevate these things beyond standard-issue? Keep your eyes peeled for special pieces — in cool shapes — or simply decorate yours to make it a little more special. You’d be surprised what a hand-done decorative border can do to elevate a regular ol’ white board.

Other Ideas

And, if you simply must have framed artwork (for that cool boho 50s college vibe), you can lean it against the wall by putting it strategically on the floor in an area you aren’t using. A little nook of art (check thrift stores for a cool selection) is a cooler, more carefree look than a standard-issue poster of V-J Day in Times Square.

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