A dorm room isn’t an inherently pretty thing. While there are some examples of gorgeously designed student housing, most dorms have a distinctly…institutional look to them. Open the door on your first day of school, and you’ll find beige walls, a bunch of bland wooden furniture, and a bed topped with with one of those “XL Twin” mattresses. (Seriously, what is up with those things?) But there are plenty of ways to make the dorm experience less dreary. Add an art print, a pillow or four, and a lamp with a bit of personality, and that once-bummer-y room can seem downright homey. Even better, match the decor to your courses for a more advanced style statement. These back-to-school picks are organized by major, so sharpen your (personalized) pencils and get ready to take some notes.
You’ll be seeing stars (and looking like an outer-space insider) when you hang an arty wall decal showing off a lesser-known constellation. A handmade moon phase pennant is a cool twist on school spirit, and you’ll want to study (okay, nap) next to this moon-shaped salt-rock nightlight. And for those galaxy-gazers with an appreciation for interiors, there’s a vintage midcentury chair inspired by Atomic Age design.
We know, you’d rather paint your own mural on those bland beige walls, but that’s not going to fly with the RA. Instead, try a watercolor-inspired wallpaper mural that you can (carefully!) tack up and remove at year’s end. Complement it with an abstract bud vase, a vibrant visual guide to the world’s great art museums, and color-splashed bedding worthy of Jackson Pollock.
A microscope-turned-lamp will shed some light on your first-semester exams, while a botany-illustration pillow is cute on the cellular level. You can even experiment with small space gardening in your free time, thanks to a repurposed-beaker terrarium set.
Deck out the communal kitchen with a Rorschach-inspired tea towel (how do these dirty dishes make you feel?), and add a few succulents to some very expressive planters. A simple graphic poster conjures images of Pavlov’s dog — who, incidentally, would probably not be allowed in the dorms.
A Wuthering Heights-inspired candle will summon up some “misty darkness” on an otherwise-average Tuesday night, while a pillow designed to look like paper is infinitely comfier than the real thing (and won’t leave you with ink-stained cheeks when you wake up). Most important: you’ll need some clever bookends to hold up all those glorious tomes.
Get inspired by history’s greats: Write a treatise — or just a term paper — under a lamp modeled on those Abe Lincoln owned and prop up a pint-sized portrait of groundbreaker Eleanor Roosevelt for daily motivation. Come sundown (or later, if you insist on using electric lights), bed down under an antique quilt made from upcycled sports banners or an embroidered patchwork throw featuring the faces of all the U.S. Presidents who governed before you were born (it only goes through Reagan).