What to Do With Ugly Dorm Room Walls
Temporary fixes that make a permanent difference.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:34 AM
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We know, we know. College is about learning, not fixating on your heinous dorm room walls. And while incoming first year students definitely have bigger things to worry about… can’t they do that from the comfort of a well-decorated dorm room?
We think that answer is yes. There’s no reason anyone should have to stare at dingy walls, cinder blocks, or unidentified stains. Granted, some universities have more stringent rules about decorating than others, so take the below advice with a grain of salt while reading through the rulebook to ensure you aren’t racking up any violations. But between temporary wallpaper and cool accessories, there’s a lot you can do to spruce up a bland dorm room wall. No painting required.
Indulge Your Inner Photog
Photos are the easiest way to simultaneously personalize a space and add interest to boring walls. And there are so many ways to show off your photographer skills that don’t involve nailing anything into a wall and risking a fine—try Blu-Tack, washi tape, or double sided tape to adhere your masterpieces directly onto the wall.
Alternatively, go full Tumblr and string up some lights (they can easily be secured with a thumbtack or even taped to the wall with clear tape), then hang your favorite photos from the lights with clothespins. It’s both inventive, and a great way to add softer lighting to use instead of unflattering overhead fluorescent bulbs.
Eclectic Gallery Wall
Big posters! Small posters! Macrame hangings! Some random magazine clippings! The more the better, and the more variety in size the cooler it will look. A mixed mediagallery wall
looks a lot more visually interesting than matching frames positioned equidistant from each other, and this way you can incorporate several of your sentimental mementos at once.
Use the walls as an opportunity to create more storage for yourself—always a welcome addition given that you probably have to share your already-meager closet and desk space with a roommate or two. These wood shelves are from Restoration Hardware and offer a clean, sophisticated look with plenty of shelf space for smaller trinkets.
Try Temporary Wallpaper
There are so many fabulous options for removable wallpaper currently on the market, and we get the appeal. Affordable and easy to stick on (and take off, thankfully), it’s a great temporary alternative to full-on painting your walls. Chasing Paper recently collaborated with Graduate Hotels for an entire line of college-themed papers, which you can shop here.
You know the multi-colored boho tapestries that everyone and their mother has? Be better. A chic tapestry in a design-forward print like this Anthropologie one will stand the test of time far better. Muted colors and a versatile design make this larger piece one worth investing in. Hang it behind your bed and have it double as a makeshift headboard.
Choose Wall Coverings That Encourage Productivity
Namely, a cork board. Classier than a whiteboard and just as efficient, you’ll be able to keep track of your schedule and upcoming events while also disguising that one unsightly dark spot in the middle of your wall whose origins remain a mystery. Pick up a selection of these geometric cork boards from Etsy and create a unique design.
Flex Your DIY Skills
Struggling to keep plants alive? You aren’t alone, but don’t give up on florals just yet. Try your hand at DIY-ing a wall of flowers to dress up your walls in a gorgeous way; this easy to follow tutorial will show you how. We also love this FIT student’s take on a flower garland. It’s simple, but packs a stylish punch.
The genius of this piece is twofold: One, it’s big enough so that you can fully cover a wall with it if necessary. Two, if your roommate starts to get on your nerves and you’re craving privacy, you can sacrifice the style of your walls to hang this from the ceiling and use it as a room divider. Buy this exact hanging here from Urban Outfitters for under $90.
Accessories as Decor
Fashionistas, we’re looking at you. Turn your favorite accessories into functional decorative accents. Ahat wall
like this will cover up a good portion of square footage; not to mention, hanging them like this means they won’t be squashed in your closet. The same goes for bags and scarves in search of a home. Hammer a few small nails in and start hanging (when you move out, a little spackle will make those holes disappear).
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