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College dorm rooms aren’t known for their style or their space. You’re also probably limited in how you are allowed to redecorate: no painting the walls, no holes in the walls bigger than a thumbtack — no holes at all if you’re dealing with painter-over cinder block.

Not to worry, though, you aren’t stuck with a small, drab, boxy dorm room for the entire year. Even with the restrictions on decorating, you can add your personal style without spending a lot of money. Here are some dorm decorating tips, from the floor to the ceiling:

The floor

Some dorm rooms come with cheap, worn carpeting, but many are just cold, smooth tile. Cover that stuff up! Many college students grab carpet remnants from the local DIY store and cut them to fit, but the carpet selection isn’t always that great. Who really wants to replace bland tile with bland beige carpet?

Forget the carpet and go for something more interesting and colorful. A throw rug or two can cover the widest swaths of bare floor while bringing more color and life into the room. Just make sure you leave enough space for the door to open and close without pulling the rug with it.

Floor space in general is at a premium. Make the most of it when you can by raising your bed, either just high enough to put a set of drawers or a mini fridge under it, or into a loft with desk space underneath. Also look for storage solutions that get common floor-dwelling items higher homes. Vertical shoe racks, for example, can hold much more than shoes.

Walls, windows and lights

You’ll see plenty of posters stuck to the walls in other dorm rooms, but you can do better than that. Consider these possibilities:

  • A simple piece of fabric hung from the top of the wall can both replace the dull dorm-room wall color and give you an easier way to hang posters and pictures.
  • Buy an appropriate-sized tension rod (or even shower curtain rod) and wedge it in near the ceiling. Use fishing line, twine, yarn or whatever you like to hang pictures and keepsakes from the tension rod.
  • While you’re shopping for tension rods, get a smaller one that fits the window, too. Pair it up with colorful and trendy curtains for a homier look.
  • No color you bring into the room will look truly good if it’s left under fluorescent overhead lights. Instead, find some cheap floor lamps and desk lamps and arrange them around the room.

The ceiling

The largest unbroken space in a dorm room is often the most underused. To turn your ceiling into a statement, start with a staple gun and your imagination. Consider what you can put up there:

  • Posters
  • Christmas tree lights
  • Strips of crêpe paper (giving the ceiling colorful “hair”)
  • Paper birds and butterflies

As you look for dorm room design ideas, keep an open mind. It’s amazing what you can do with thrift store items, a little creativity and a can of spray paint. (Just make sure you go outside to paint anything!)