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Inexpensive & Non-damaging Decorating Ideas for Dorms or Apartments

dorm room decorating ideas

Looking for ways to decorate your space, but can’t leave any holes in the wall or make any permanent changes? Whether you’re in a dorm or just trying to make sure you’ll get the security deposit back from your apartment, you can try these landlord-approved decorating ideas. Now get creative!

Hammer and Nail Alternatives

Hammer and Nail Alternatives

If you’re staying in a dorm you might be surprised at some of their rules for decorating. Obviously, you can’t paint the walls or leave giant nail holes, but some dorms don’t allow students to even use duct-tape when decorating. In that case, Command strips and Poster Putty will be your best friends. Command has an amazing collection of strips and hooks that are damage-free, and Poster Putty is just like it sounds; a non-damaging putty that adheres posters and pictures to your wall. Use these for hanging posters and collages.

If you’re in an apartment, you’ll actually be able to leave holes in your walls, but keep them small so you can get that security deposit back. In that case, use tacks and very thin nails. I suggest monkey hooks and The Takker. Monkey hooks look just like a short piece of wire, but they are tool-free and will work even in drywall. You’ve probably seen The Takker in infomercials too, and it’s another product that actually works well. It has received great reviews on Amazon.

Marilyn Monroe Shoes Quote - Wall Decal


Decals are basically stickers for your walls. The Marilyn quote above would be perfect to hang beside your closet. There are many inexpensive options available on Amazon, as well as Wall Written and blik.

Dress Your Floors

If your dorm or apartment is already carpeted it’s likely pretty dingy and damaged from previous occupants. Cover up unsightly stains or just soften tile with a unique area rug. The great thing is you can choose an area rug that matches the rest of your décor and take it with you when you leave. A polyester blend is probably your best bet because it’s easiest to clean, even though shag and flokati are much more plush. Save those for your post-grad years; for now practicality and affordability is of most importance.

Try using several small circular rugs for a bright and cheerful look and don’t be afraid to DIY your own too!

Here are our picks:

Dress Your Floors - Dorm Decorating Ideas

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Let There be Bright Light

Another inexpensive and non-damaging decorating idea is to play with your lighting. If you’re in a dorm, use string or led rope lights to brighten up the space. If you’ve got a little more room, play around with quirky lamps, colorful shades and consider adding a glamorous chandelier. Here are a few options:

inexpensive and non-damaging dorm lighting ideas

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What are some ways you liven up your place without painting or damaging the walls? Let us know in the comments below!

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