Dorm Room Lighting and Decor Guide

Published By: Shades Of Light

Date Published:

Last Updated: September 28, 2022

Bedroom with flush mount ceiling light

BRIGHTEN YOUR DORM ROOM WITH LIGHTING & DECOR

For many students, college is the first experience living away from home – and a college dorm is the first opportunity to decorate a space that is all one’s own. Of course, dorm life is just one of many things that are new about college: there are new people, new classes, and maybe even a new state to get used to! Though the temptation to treat this space as temporary accommodations is there, take it from us: the more time and effort you put into making your dorm more of a home than a room, the less overwhelmed you’ll be knowing that you have a comfortable, inviting space to retire to after experiencing so much new.

Keep reading to learn about how to design lighting and curate decor for a college dorm room – and if you still need some more inspiration, check out our design guide blog for tons of lighting and design tips and tricks!

WHAT IS ESSENTIAL DORM DECOR?

The most important commodity in your average college dorm room? Space. Forget about bringing chandeliers, big bookcases, or the pinball machine in your basement – when you get ready to move in, focus on the essentials to give your room unique flavor, including:

• Floor lamps
Table lamps
• Plug-in wall lights
• Pillows and blankets
Area rugs
• Small (emphasis on small) furniture
Mirrors
• Wall decor

As you choose items to bring and buy, pay careful attention to sizing. The last thing you want is to feel cramped! Designing your perfect dorm room is all about doing the most with the least; making the space feel welcoming, uncluttered, and as you as possible.

UPDATE DORM ROOM LIGHTING

One of the quickest ways to make your dorm room feel like home is to address the lighting situation, which, in our experience, varies heavily from school to school. Typically, dorm rooms will have pre-installed ceiling lights, either low-profile or recessed – but the quality of the light often leaves a lot to be desired. The last thing you want is to come home from a long day of classes to a room that is harshly bright or dim and dark. A couple of well-placed lighting layers will not only boost the mood of the room, but also your quality of life!

It's important to recognize the differences in lighting sources when choosing lights. Task lighting is typically a good choice for studying purposes, while ambient lighting improves overall lighting levels, and decorative lighting provides additional flair.

WHAT WALL LIGHTING IS NEEDED IN DORMS?

Talk about a space saver! Plug in wall sconces are a great way of bringing light sources exactly to where you need them, whether you’re studying for an exam at your desk or winding down from a long day by reading in bed. Plug in wall lights are highly functional, and highly fashionable – coming in a huge variety of different shapes, materials, and styles to match your perfect dorm room vibe. Never selected or installed a sconce before? Our Wall Sconce Style Guide is here to help you with all things bedroom wall lights.


Brass Reading Swing Arm Wall Lamp Dark Bronze Adjustable Swing Arm Light



What's the Best Floor Lighting for Students?

Floor lamps are another stylish and efficient space saver for your dorm room. No matter how eccentric your aesthetic, if you opt for a floor lamp it’s important to consider the function of the piece in your room. A shaded floor lamp such as the Spotlight End Table Floor Lamp below will add beautiful ambient lighting to your room – plus, it doubles as a nightstand! Otherwise, lamps more suited for task lighting may be your choice. Regardless, whether you need a reading floor lamp for studying or simply want to add some high-quality light to your space, a good standing lamp can be the perfect option for your college living situation.

Midcentury Modern Antique Brass Floor Lamp Black Metal Table Floor Lamp



Do I need a Desk Lamp?

What’s a college dorm room without a good desk lamp? Even a mini table lamp can be the cherry on top to your ideal freshman dorm, or an upperclassman dorm that you want to re-vamp after having experienced a less-than-stellar freshman dorm design! Desk lamps are an impeccable way to show off your unique style and compliment the rest of your room’s decor, and luckily, we have so many options to choose from: from quirky and eccentric to standard and traditional. There’s no wrong answer here – something you probably don’t hear very often at school!

Cream Marbled Industrial Desk Lamp Black Metal Desk Lamp



ELEVATE & QUIET YOUR DORM WITH RUGS

After walking to and from classes all day, there’s nothing that soothes quite like a good rug under your feet. Though they’re not crucial, rugs are a small part of one’s dorm room décor that can make a huge impact on the cohesiveness of a room’s style and design. They can also be helpful for minimizing contact with floors that may be difficult to clean and muffling sounds for a more serene space.

How big you want to go and how eccentric the design are completely up to you! Choose something fluffy yet neutral like the Superior Flokati Wool Rug below, or go loud and proud with an animal print! And if you’re not sure about how to go about placing your rug, check out our rug placement and buying guide for tips and tricks.

Cream Flokati Hand Woven Wool Rug
Cheetah Print Cotton Wool Hand Hooked Rug



REFRESH YOUR DORM WITH MIRRORS

College is all about first impressions and stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. Consider adding a full-length or leaner mirror for outfit once-overs before heading out, or hanging a decorative wall mirror in which to do daily self-pep talks before you tackle the day!

In a small dorm space, wall real estate is still a big factor . While a full-length or leaner mirrors might give you the most comprehensive view of your outfit, a simple circle mirror could be enough to suit your student’s needs. Regardless of your choice, know that there are plenty of style and material options to choose for your mirror! Unsure how to go about choosing the right mirror? Check out our mirror placement guide for some assistance.

Minimalist Black Full Body Mirror Coastal White Rope Round Wall Mirror



ADD FLAIR WITH WALL ART

What better way to show off your style than with some decorative wall art or decor? At this point in the dorm room decorating stage, it’s all about personalization – so find prints, photographs or art pieces that showcase who you are, for your roommate, new friends, R.A.; anyone who comes to visit your dorm! Choose pieces that tell a story about yourself, whether you love nature or miss your far-off home.

Wood Framed Flora Print Wall Art Distressed Wooden Farmhouse Wall Decor



DECORATE WITH SOPHISTICATED BEDDING

We may not be your typical bedding superstore, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have options for you to keep your dorm bed feeling stylish and cozy. After all, your bed is arguably the most important feature of your new dorm room – so choose a decorative pillow or a throw blanket that matches your aesthetic!

Cobalt Boho Cotton Textured Throw Blanket Natural Cotton Linen Woven Lumbar Pillow



We hope these tips have helped you get excited about moving off to school and settling in! Even if you’re far from home, we are confident you will distinguish yourself—and your style—in this exciting new phase of life.

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