10 DIY Ways to Dress Up Bland Dorm Walls

Personalize those blank, white walls without breaking any rules.

As the calendar gets closer and closer to the first day of school, it’s time to dive into your dorm room decor planning. One of the biggest challenge to tackle? What to do with all the blank, white space on your walls.

I’ve rounded up 10 of my favorite dorm room wall DIYs to help you jazz up your space and make it feel more like a home.

1: Create Your Own Custom Tapestry

This is a fun option for any student who never leave home without their cameras. You can use any high-resolution photo to create your own large-scale piece of art. It’s the perfect solution to filling up space on your wall. Since you usually can’t use nails, you can hang it up with adhesive strips or hooks.

Try This: DENY Designs

2: Print an Instagram Poster

Photo by: Social Print Studio

Social Print Studio

For Instagram addicts, consider creating a giant poster with all of your favorite Instagram shots. You can choose each photo to include, so you end up with a great piece of art that also reminds you of all of your friends and family.

3: Try Some Engineer Prints

Photo by: Parabo Press

Engineer prints are another fun option if you have a favorite photo or two that you’d like to blow up. These are black and white, newsprint-type posters that are created on large format printers. You can get these printed at your local Staples or Office Depot, or order them online and get them sent directly to your dorm.

Try This: Parabo Press

4: DIY Fiber Art

Photo by: A Beautiful Mess

Woven wall hangings are still as trendy as ever, and this easy but impactful project from A Beautiful Mess would look gorgeous in any space. The great part about this project is that you can size it to fit the exact space you have to fill. It’s a simple project that comes out looking like you’re an undercover weaving superstar.

5: Shower Curtain Statement Art

A shower curtain is an inexpensive solution for a large, empty wall. You can follow the instructions in this project and create a "frame" for your shower curtain, or simply use scissors to cut a strip along the top (to eliminate the holes) and hang the curtain as if it were a tapestry.

6: String Art Design

DIY Large Scale String Art World Map

DIY Large Scale String Art World Map

Whether you’re a world traveler or you just got your passport, no one can resist this gorgeous world map with its intricate string art, playful color and large scale design.

Photo by: Brian Patrick Flynn, Flynnsideout.com

Brian Patrick Flynn, Flynnsideout.com

Another simple project is to create a sign using string art. You could make a sign that features your name or pick out a phrase that means something special to you. Choose the colors of the string to coordinate with your dorm bedding, and you’ll end up with a unique piece of decor that coordinates perfectly with the rest of your space.

Make It: DIY String Art

7: Sequin Wall

New Year's Eve Gold Photo Booth Backdrop

New Year's Eve Gold Photo Booth Backdrop

To make a New Year's Eve photo booth backrop, use a large plate to trace a circle on the back of a sheet of 12" x 12" glitter paper. Cut out the traced circle, then use double sided tape to adhere to the wall.

Photo by: ©Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

©Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

While this project was originally intended as a photo booth backdrop, we think it would also look fab in a dorm room. This could be the perfect solution for anyone who loves a little extra sparkle or glam in their life. And because all the sequins are attached to a piece of poster board, you don’t have to worry about violating any of your school’s "dorm decor" policies.

8: Collected Autograph Work

Signature Art

Signature Art

©Rustic White Photography

Rustic White Photography

This DIY is a fun way to involve your friends and family in a meaningful way … by collecting their autographs. This almost feels like a visual representation of a yearbook. Another variation might be to set this up as a blank piece of art when you get to school and collect the signatures of everyone you meet throughout the year.

16 Easy DIY Wall Art Ideas

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Personalize Your Walls

The gallery wall in this cozy bedroom seating area is made up of several handmade art pieces, many which can be completed in just a few hours.

©Rustic White Photography

Paint Swatches

After amassing a variety of paint swatches from your home makeover, organize them into groups by color. Conceptualize an overall look or design based on the size, scale, shape and proportion of the swatches. Here, a gradient effect was created by lining up the colors and differentiating them by levels of saturation. For a cohesive look, consider cutting all swatches into the same shape using craft scissors. Attach the swatches to poster board using double-sided tape, and then add matting before placing into a frame.

©Rustic White Photography

Nail-Head Wording

Create graphic art for your space with corrugated foam core and nail heads or brass tacks. First, decide on a message, name or combination of words. Next, use a pencil to free-hand the message directly onto the foam core. Using the traced letters as a guide, apply nail heads or brass tacks with a hammer or rubber mallet. Once complete, place the foam core inside a complementary frame and hang.

©Rustic White Photography

Organic Branch Taxidermy

Create the look of taxidermy with all-natural materials. Pick up a wooden plaque and a bag of crafting moss, then search outside for a pair of branches similar in shape and size. Cut the branches back using pruning shears and attach the branches to the plaque using plumbing or cable clips and screws. Once complete, add a nail to the wall and hang.

©Rustic White Photography

Open Books

To create the look of flying-open books, add hot glue to different areas of back-to-back open pages. This will create the look of motion. Once the glue has dried, group several books together and attach them to the wall with drywall screws through the back of each book cover.

©Rustic White Photography

Collected Autographs

Homeowners who love to entertain will surely love artwork created from guests' signatures. Pick up a basic art canvas, then use nails or screws to add trim around the canvas’s edges as a frame. Next, hang the blank canvas in a high-traffic area where guests are certain to gather. Keep a marker nearby and ask guests to add their signatures to the canvas. The random placement of the signatures will result in something personal and graphic which reads differently from far away than it does close up.

©Rustic White Photography

Layered Paint: From a Distance

While many art stores offer paint supplies which texturize canvases, texture and depth can also be created by layering paint. To layer paint with a textural effect, apply the paint in random areas using a painting knife, ensuring the layers are thick. After several hours of drying, continue to layer paint in different colors and in random spots on the canvas.

©Rustic White Photography

Layered Paint: Close-Up

Remember, as the layers build up around a layered-paint piece, the edges on the canvas can start to look messy and unprofessional. By simply adding four strips of MDF or wood trim along the edges with nails or screws, any eyesores become instantly concealed.

©Rustic White Photography

Gold Leafing

Turn any basic object into a work of art with a gold or silver leaf application. For a high-end metallic finish, all you need are leafing sheets, leafing adhesive and a detail paintbrush. Apply the sheets directly to the objects with a paintbrush dipped into the adhesive, then use the paintbrush to fill in any cracks. For proper display, either place objects inside a cloche, on risers or in an open frame.

©Rustic White Photography

Spray Bottle Art: From a Distance

Drip art is commonly known for its use in grade school art classes. It's created by holding a canvas vertically, then dripping latex or acrylic paint randomly across the top. Another interpretation of this style is spray bottle art which involves applying paint directly to a canvas, then spraying it with a bottle of water to dilute the paint and cause it to drip downward.

©Rustic White Photography

Spray Bottle Art: Close-Up

Add depth to spray bottle art by mixing touches of gold or silver leaf in with other colors. After all colors are added to the canvas, apply the gold or silver leaf to the surface using leaf adhesive and a small detail paintbrush.

©Rustic White Photography

Delicate Butterflies

Sweet butterfly wall art mimics the grace and delicacy of the real thing. To create a similar look, use cardstock paper and cut out butterfly shapes in various sizes. Gently fold the wings, and attach to the wall using a small amount of sticky putty.

Colorful Crate Bookshelves

Simple crates become a work of art and unexpected storage with a few coats of bright, colorful paint. Once painted, attach the crates to the wall by drilling a hole in each corner and screwing to the wall. Courtesy of HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Mark Lund

Framed Textiles

A vintage scarf may be just what you need to brighten your home and add a bit of retro design to your blank walls. Try framing your scarf for an instant statement piece.

Photo Collage

An easy way to make a bold impact is by printing out all your favorite Instagram photos and displaying them in a fun shape, such as the ampersand seen here. 

Painted Ceiling Medallions

While this stunning display looks expensive, it was actually accomplished using a gorgeous mix of inexpensive ceiling medallions. Once painted in coordinating shades, the light-weight medallions can be attached using velcro or a strong glue. Courtesy of HGTV Magazine

Photo By: Mark Lund

Homemade Modern Art

You don't have to be an artist to create a one-of-a-kind piece that both adds style to your space and complements your home's color palette. Learn to make this modern, geometric art here.

Origami Paper Garland

Colorful sheets of origami paper make a striking wall garland when sewn together and hung in a prominent spot, such as above the sofa. Find the full instructions here.

Wall Decor With Woven Baskets

Add gorgeous texture and a brilliant blend of color with a few shallow baskets displayed effortlessly on the wall. To copy this look, try hanging the largest basket first, layering in others. Nail each basket to the wall by the basket's center to achieve the overlapping look. Courtesy of HGTV Magazine

9: Abstract Art

Blue Abstract Art

Blue Abstract Art

Hand-selected local art adds a layer of unique style within the space. "We put everything in the room and didn't have an accent color," says interior designer Linda Woodrum. "We found that piece and we thought it was perfectly soft."

Photo by: Eric Perry ©2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Eric Perry, 2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Creating your own piece of abstract art is another great project for anyone who’s feeling a bit more creative. And don’t feel limited by the idea that you don’t feel like an "artist;" anyone can take on this DIY. This is another great project that will also allow you specifically fill the space you have in your dorm by choosing the right sized canvas.

10: Washi Tape Wall Art

White Contemporary Dorm Room with Tape Decorated Door

White Contemporary Dorm Room with Tape Decorated Door

Washi tape is used in a playful way to add a unique touch to this closet door in a white, contemporary dorm room.

Washi tape is truly the unsung workhorse of the crafting world. You can create so many types of wall art with it, and best of all, it doesn’t leave any marks when you remove it. This overlapping geometric design is super easy to recreate on a wall or a door with some coordinating washi. You can also use washi tape to hang various photos or pictures from magazines. You could even use washi to write a cool message on the wall or spell out your name.

Transform Your Space With Washi Tape

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Space-Saving Jewelry Storage

Create a funky place to show off your favorite necklaces by taping a tree onto your wall with washi tape. Use small pieces of tape to create each branch, then attach necklaces with thumbtacks. This jewelry tree is completely flat against the wall and saves precious counter space in a small room.

Dress Up Paper Lanterns

Coordinate a basic paper lantern to the color scheme of your dorm room by applying strips of washi tape. Pick a coordinating color scheme, like teal and gold, or go crazy and create a rainbow. Either way, everyone will want to know where you purchased that custom hanging light.

No More Standard Doors

Rid your room of boring closet doors with a few strips of colorful washi tape. Extra-wide washi tape makes a big impression on large areas. Create a dynamic look by placing different washi tapes on the diagonal in a crisscross pattern. Each piece is easily removable without damaging painted or wooden doors.

Personalize Colorful Frames

Tape up inspirational magazine clippings, pictures of friends and artwork with washi tape that can be easily removed and changed on a whim. Create funky geometric shapes with the tape around a few of the images.

Give Personality to a Plain Table

Create a custom side table by covering a plain one with a variety of washi tape. In a diagonal pattern, place tapes in various sizes next to each other. Washi tape won't ruin a tabletop, but if you'd prefer your new piece to be permanent and water resistant, paint a few layers of clear gloss lacquer over the tape to seal it.

Add Pep to Your Flowers

A dorm room will feel more like home with fresh flowers around. Personalize clear glass vases with layers of colored washi tape to match the decor of your room. Stick stripes of patterned and solid tape on top of each other to create quirky vases that your friends will love.

No-Damage Wall Messages

Bare dorm room walls can be bland and boring. Fill your room with a few uplifting quotes by taping them directly onto the wall with washi tape. Try spelling out each word in a different color of tape for a true splash of color.

Decorative Electronics

Never confuse your chargers with your roommate's again by personalizing yours with a funky tape design. Wrap small pieces of tape around the cord, and you'll always be able to find your chargers with ease.

Lively Nightlight

Update an old lampshade with layers of patterned washi tape to create a hip, colorful new decoration for your room. For the most variety, use different widths and colors of washi tape that all have something in common. For example, these tapes are all a white pattern on a colored background.

Create a Colorful Desk

Basic storage boxes are given an update with modern washi tape. Choose one main patterned tape to be the centerpiece, then choose three or four solid, dotted and striped tapes that are similar in color to those found on your main tape. This will create a cohesive look that still appears fresh and trendy.

20 Totally Removable Dorm Room Decor Ideas

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No Nails Allowed? No Worries

Deck out your dorm room with stylish decor ideas that won't break the rules, like this wall of painted hexagon-shaped cork pieces, attached to the wall with removable adhesive strips.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

1: A Pinboard That Doubles as Wall Art

To make this wall, purchase hexagon-shaped corkboard, or cut heavy-weight cork sheets into hexagon shapes. Paint in the colors of your choice (we used navy blue, hot pink, coral and gold) and hang on the wall using removable adhesive strips. Tack on favorite photos and magazine clippings with oversized pushpins.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

2: Wall-Mounted Jewelry Storage

The hexagonal corkboard wall doubles as wall-mounted storage for favorite necklaces and bracelets.

3: Washi Tape Refrigerator Makeover

Mini refrigerators are useful, but they aren't all that attractive. Personalize your dorm room refrigerator using strips of washi tape. We created an abstract stripe design with metallic gold tape. 

4: Chalkboard Refrigerator Update

Turn your dorm freezer into a reusable spot for notes and grocery lists by adding a sheet of removable chalkboard adhesive. Have a favorite hashtag to describe your #dormlife? Spell it out using gold alphabet stickers.

5: Removable DIY Curtains

Window treatments can be pricey, and hanging curtain rods doesn't adhere to the "no nails" policy in most dorm rooms. The solution? A dowel rod and a scarf.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

5: Removable DIY Curtains

Hang a dowel rod with removable adhesive hooks and drape on a long, gauzy scarf.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

5: Removable DIY Curtains

Tie the curtain back with a length of leather cord or ribbon. Attach to another removable adhesive hook to secure.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

6: Hang a Poster With Decorative Tape

No budget for frames? Use washi tape that complements your poster or print to adhere it to the wall.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

7: Chalkboard Wardrobe Dress-Up

Dorm room wardrobes offer a large, blank space that's dying to be dressed up. Here, we took advantage of this blank space just inside the door to create a chalkboard memo board with a side for each roommate's to-do list.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

7: Chalkboard Wardrobe Dress-Up

To recreate this look, add two removable adhesive chalkboard panels to the door, then accent with a geometric washi tape pattern.

8: Clothing That Doubles as Decor

Fashion is art, so why not put it on display? Show off your favorite clothing pieces and accessories (or just tomorrow's outfit) on over-the-door hooks.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

9: A Yoga Mat That Does Double-Duty

This embellished yoga mat is pretty enough to leave out as a dorm room accent when it's not in use for morning stretches. Recreate the look by creating stripes using medium-width painter's tape, then coloring in the exposed space with a gold paint marker. Seal with waterproof sealer and let dry completely before using.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

10: A Totally Removable Gallery Wall

A gallery wall with no nails? Yes, it's possible! We used removable adhesive photo strips rated for 5 to 15 pound items to ensure the artwork would stay put. Be sure to allow the strips to cure according to package directions before hanging artwork.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

11: Instagram Corkboard Map

Make your dorm room into a home away from home by incorporating items from where you grew up. Here, we used spray adhesive to attach a meaningful map to a piece of corkboard. Then, pin photos of favorite memories to the place where they happened.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

12: Office-Inspired Frame

Photo frames can be pricey, but cute bulletin boards are a frequent dollar bin find. Hang one from your wall to display a favorite photo or quote. To change it out, simply clip on some new inspiration!

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

13: Find Art in Inexpensive Places

Adding a mat gives even the most inexpensive object a high-end look. We framed a fun, dollar-bin binder divider, but the options are limitless: Try wrapping paper, an old T-shirt, fabric scraps and more.

14: Be a Tourist

Use metal clips to secure postcards from your favorite destinations, whether it's your hometown or a faraway place you'd love to visit.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

15: Say Hello in Washi Tape

Make your dorm door stand out with a ceiling-to-floor greeting to your fellow dorm dwellers. To recreate this look, use scraps of painter's tape to divide your door into five equal sections, then outline each letter. Go back and add geometric details, if desired.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

16: Add Removable Wallpaper

Removable wallpaper comes in small pieces and a wide variety of trend-forward patterns, so it's a great choice when you're looking to dress up boring dorm room surfaces. Be sure to select a brand that doesn't leave residue when removed.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

16: Add Removable Wallpaper

Here, a gold-and-white peony pattern dresses up a plain desk surface. To apply the wallpaper, peel off the backing a little at a time, adhering to surface and smoothing out bubbles in small sections a little at a time. If bubbles are left after application is complete, move the air pocket towards the edge using a credit card.

17: Mix and Match Patterns

Mix and match patterns to create a layered look. Here, we paired a large, organic floral pattern with a smaller, structured geometric X pattern.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

18: Dress Up Your Dresser Drawers

Don't limit wallpaper to horizontal surfaces! We took it vertical by cutting wallpaper pieces to size and adding to each dorm dresser drawer.

19: Make Shade With Style

For a dorm room with a large number of windows, create privacy and preserve wall space by hanging a favorite print in the window using removable adhesive strips.

20: Suspend a Hanging Planter

Every room needs a little plant life, but dorm rooms don't have much horizontal surface to spare. Instead, suspend your planter with a DIY rope or macrame hanger. We hung this planter from an exposed water pipe, but it would look just as fabulous hanging atop a bed or desk.

Photo By: Jennie Andrews Photography

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