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Zoë offers advice on how to decorate your dorm room and make it your own.

Zoë offers advice on how to decorate your dorm room and make it your own.

A fun part of living in a dorm room is sprucing it up over the course of the year. Since the beginning of Fall Term, my roommate and I have enjoyed hunting for posters and brainstorming ways to make our space more homey and welcoming. Fair warning: If blank walls and bare window sills are not your cup of tea, read no further. 

My side of our room in James Hall.

Wall Space

There is ample space in our double for lots of posters and photos, and we have taken full advantage of it. Using command strips to hang my favorite photos is an ongoing project, as is finding posters. I found four posters that I loved online—one featuring a map of Copenhagen, one a neat illustration of a hedgehog, one a whimsical drawing of a frog playing a banjo, and the last one an array of mushroom prints! These all found a spot on the wall next to my bed. At The Sketchy Artist, a fantastic art supply store in downtown Northfield, I also bought two other pieces of wall art.

james double
The current state of the room, full of posters and photos.

I also recommend repurposing postcards, handwritten notes, maps, and any other hangable items that remind you of memorable experiences to use as wall hangings. I created my own corner of the room dedicated to my study abroad experience in Copenhagen. By hanging my favorite photos, business cards, and miniature Danish flag, the nook is a lovely area that reminds me of my travels.

Window Sill

The window sill and desk region of the room often becomes an unfortunate spot that accumulates clutter. However, I recently picked up two plants that occupy spots on the window sill. From Paisley Gardens, a plant shop in downtown Northfield, I purchased a prayer plant and an alocasia plant. Between the two of us, my roommate and I also nurture a small jade plant and a mini cactus. Adding some greenery definitely livens up the space and I am really pleased with the result.

window sill
Featuring our current plant collection.


Because the floor in our room is tiled, we decided to lay down a decorative rug. It’s a nice addition to the room and definitely makes the space feel more lived in. Even if you have a carpeted floor, I still recommend investing in a patterned or colored rug.

My Previous Rooms

For reference, I thought I would include some photos of a couple other dorm rooms that I lived in as a first year and sophomore. My freshman year I lived in a Goodhue Hall double, and I absolutely loved it. The room faced the Lyman Lakes, two beautiful bodies of water lined with trees that were right outside my window. In Goodhue, I took advantage of the large bulletin board on my wall and filled it with an excessive number of photos.

My freshman Goodhue double.

Last year, I lived in a Nourse Hall double. It was an incredibly spacious room, and my roommate and I filled it with posters and photos. Here’s my side of the room, where you can see another attempt at meticulously organizing my wall of photos.

One side of my sophomore year Nourse double.

I hope this blog post shows how exciting it can be to decorate your dorm room, no matter where you end up living and what the space looks like when you arrive. Every dorm room I’ve lived in has looked slightly different, and depending on its layout, I have always made a point to personalize it and make it feel like my own. Whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist, there are tons of ways to get creative and collaborate with your roommate to turn your space into whatever you want it to be!

Launch Dorm Room

Zoë is a junior Sociology-Anthropology major who loves traveling and studying abroad, taking photos, and luxuriating in long walks in the glorious Arb. At Carleton, some of Zoë’s favorite pastimes include frequenting the various coffee shops in downtown Northfield, playing cello in the orchestra, participating in club soccer, and spending time with friends. Meet the other bloggers!