If you're heading off to college this year, summer is the time to decide upon all your dorm room decor. The average dorm room is around 228 square feet — and in most cases, you're probably sharing that with another two or even three people. That's not a lot to work with when you're trying to make a space of your own — even when you think vertically, as everyone should. Since most residences won't let you put holes in the wall, 3M Command adhesive strips, hooks, and some creative hacks and DIYs are your new dorm room style BFFs.
1. Photo Frame and Mounting Tape
It's not that you can't hang your photo frames, it's just that usually you can't use the tools you're used to (like a hammer and nails). Extreme adhesive tape is your fail-safe — it can help you mount frames (or almost anything else) up to 20 pounds, which should be just fine for a simple framed art print. It's not recommended for drywall but should serve the typical cinderblock dorm walls just fine.
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2. Decorative Tape
Washi tape lacks the backbone of most 3M products, but strength is not the point — it's all about the design. For the average poster, art print, or single photo, you can get away with just two corner strips — but it's your choice to do all four, or line one or more of the sides. Coordinate the colors with your bedding — or don't. Washi is more low commitment than your average hookup.
Our pick: YuBoBo Grid Washi Tape Set of 7, $8.99
3. Cork and Pinboards
Cork has a great schoolhouse vibe to it — and adhesive cork tiles make it incredibly dorm-friendly. Go octagon for a mod look, try color-blocking for something more stylish, or use these Monstera leaf cork boards for a botanical feel. To upgrade your average corkboard, you can cover it with fun fabric or try a pre-made option like this no-nails pinboard from Pottery Barn Teen. They'll even look good with nothing on them.
Our pick: Pottery Barn Teen No-Nails Pin Board, $79
4. Hanging Grids
A wire wall grid gives you lots of options. Mount it with strong adhesive tape or lean it from your desktop. Whether your approach is spare and modern, or layer upon layer, it's a nice, blank slate that's endlessly customizable, thanks to the clips.
Our pick: Threshold Grid Wall Organizer with Clips, $18
Well-placed adhesive spring clips = basic DIY dorm room decor. Photos are as interchangeable as freshman year friend groups. You can stick to more standard (and versatile) Command Spring Clips or try fun designs like this butterfly-shaped photo clip banner or these fairy lights with photo clips from Target.
Our pick: Urban Outfitters Icon Photo Clip Banner, $14
6. Peel-and-Stick Accent Art
Go big with an entire accent wall that truly defines your space — behind the bed or desk, ideally. One option is peel-and-stick wallpaper — which leaves no adhesive residue. Sweet cactus, classic marble, or retro florals a are all strong options, especially if you want to use decorative tape to layer on additional photos and prints.
7. Beyond the Wall
If you are lucky (or just organized) enough to have a spare desk or dresser space to fill, there are options that don't involve walls at all. Use inverted bulldog clips (the metallic and colorful clips look best) to keep beloved photos upright, or put in a little elbow grease (a.k.a. your glue gun) to create these chic DIY wood-block photo stands, which look like they'd run $39 at your nearest Urban Outfitters. You can also try this acrylic photo album frame or ceramic daisy photo stand to really make your photos shine.
Our pick: Jam Paper Colorful Binder Clips, $11.99
8. Personalize Your Mini-Fridge
If you have a more minimalistic approach to your dorm walls, with a few specific posters already picked out, consider your mini fridge a blank canvas. Urban Outfitter's magnetic photo sleeves turn your favorite photographs into magnets and their magnetic frames offer a fun, bold border to your polaroids.
Our pick: Shaped Magnetic Picture Frame Set of 3, $18
9. Consider Adhesive Art
Before we mentioned adhesive wallpaper, but if you want something a little smaller (and perhaps a bit less bold), opt for adhesive wall decals. These are essentially elevated stickers you can use to create a one-of-a-kind look or, like with Dormify's Flower Decals, a beautiful print for your wall.
Our pick: Dormify Flower Wall Decal, $36