College advice: DIY dorm decorating ideas to spruce up your space

Pimp your place with some cool do-it-yourself decorating ideas. Whether you’re a college freshman in a dorm or a senior in an off-campus apartment, dazzle your roomies and your guests with some homemade charm and sparkle. Decorate your door, spice up your walls, find a use for your old textbooks — anything works!

End table of old textbooks

DIY end tableHave a few years worth of old books and textbooks you just can’t throw away (or sell back to the book store!)? Keep them with you forever by making an end table out of them. Stack the books and glue the covers and bottoms together, or drill a hole through the center of each one and insert a dowel stick for strength. Cut a round or square piece of particle board to use as a tabletop and glue it the top book. Paint, varnish or apply sealer to the board, and voila — an end table to rest your drink, err, homework on!

Another use for old textbooks—a clock. Drill a hole in the middle of the book. Insert clock mechanism through the hole. Battery side goes in the back, clockwork hands go in the front. Paint clock numbers or funky symbols on the face of the book or just leave it blank. Every noon and midnight the hands will point to the book’s title!

Fridge magnets

A clean white or stainless steel surface is just aching to have your graffiti and words of wisdom stuck all over it. “Homemade Fridge Magnets,” posted on DIY College Apartment Ideas, July 5, 2012, suggested some common objects with magnetic strips glued to the back:

  • Scrabble letters
  • Old keyboard letters
  • Beer caps
  • Cut-out words and phrases from free promotional magnets

Also find magnetic poetry kits with specialized vocabulary for cat lovers, Jane Austin, food, math, happiness, encouragement, pick-up lines, poetry, artists and even naughty words!

Decorate your door

Crafty College Girl made a fall wreath for her front door. The “DIY Fall Wreath” article posted on September 6, 2013, gives instructions for making the wreath.

  • From a hobby or craft store purchase a plain twig wreath, plastic or fabric flowers (with or without pumpkin and berries), ribbon, wooden numbers or letters to spell out your apartment number or your name.
  • Materials: Paint, glue gun, scissors.
  • Directions:
  1. Paint the wooden numbers or letters a color that will match your ribbon and flowers. Let dry.
  2. Glue the flowers, pumpkins and berries on one side of the wreath.
  3. Glue the numbers or letters on the other side of the wreath.
  4. Glue the ribbon on the side, top or bottom of the wreath.
  5. Hang the wreath on your door on a hook.

Blooming monogram

DIY monogramChloe Leach of Penn State made a monogram with flowers. In “Pintern Summer Challenge: The Blooming Monogram,” for, June 14, 2013, she gives instructions.

Buy: cardboard letters, green flower foam, plastic or fabric flowers (any color combination).
Materials: hot glue gun, scissors, exacto knife.

  1. With the exacto knife, “carefully make an incision in the lower corner of your [cardboard] letter and pull back the top layer of cardboard to reveal the hollow insides,” said Chloe.
  2. Measure and cut the green flower foam to fit inside the area of the letters. Once sized, glue the foam into place.
  3. Trim the stems off the flowers so there is an inch left. Insert the flowers into the foam.
  4. Hang on your door, hang on the wall, prop up on your bookshelf, wherever you want to announce yourself.

Other decorating ideas:

  • Use photos of your friends as wall paper around your mirror or dresser so they’ll always be near.
  • Rip out cool pictures of Hollywood or sports stars, fashion models, nature scenes, animals or faraway locations from those old magazines and arrange them in a large poster frame to decorate your wall.

What are some clever decorating ideas you’ve used for your dorm?

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