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
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.
Try This: Social Print Studio
3: Try Some Engineer Prints
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
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.
Make It: DIY Fiber Art via A Beautiful Mess
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.