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DIY College Guide: Dorm Décor with Style on a Budget

By June 27, 2018August 6th, 2018No Comments
Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

Starting college and living in the dorms is an eye-opening experience, and most often the first time students really get a chance to live on their own and see what autonomy is all about. It is fun and full of new experiences, one of which is having a living space to make your own. One of the most exciting things to look forward to when heading back to college (or to college for the first time) is getting the chance to set up shop in a fresh dorm room.  

Things have changed a lot since I was in the dorms, and I’ll admit, my dorm décor game was pretty basic. I scooped up a couple cheap Bob Marley and Scarface posters from the mall to slap on the walls, and called it a day. Today college students have way more at their disposal to deck out a dorm with style, and modify their living space to reflect their personality. Newegg has the best back to college inspiration for loading up a dorm (or even apartment) with cool gadgets to make it unique.


How to Decorate a Dorm Room

It sounds pretty pedestrian, but one of the mistakes I made in my dorm décor was not having a plan. Really, I didn’t even think much about it at all, I just didn’t want to see plain white walls, which was my error. To truly have a space you are happy living in for the next year, start with a plan of what you want to do.

First think about the different surfaces you have to operate with (desk, walls, tabletop, bedding, etc), and set your budget. Most college students are looking for dorm décor on a budget, so setting a budget helps to ensure all the needs are covered without disappointment (or worse, running over-budget). Here’s a money-saving tip— for the most expensive things like furniture modifications or super-cool fixtures, save those for the very last and look for inspiration on Pinterest to see how they can be DIY’d. Not only is it fun to build something yourself, but it can save a ton of cash.

Next, figure out what look you are going for and create a strategy for decking out the space. Are you going to have a cohesive design theme across the whole dorm or will it be a sampling of your inner complexity? Is a modern, clean look what you want or will it be eclectic and flashy?

Perhaps these aren’t things that come to mind when searching for some easy dorm upgrades, but taking a little time beforehand will ensure that the changes you make now will be something you are happy with for the next year. Not to mention make everyone else just a little jealous.


Cheap Dorm Décor

The vast majority of dorm décor items you will get will be cheap, likely under $50 or so. There will undoubtedly be a few outliers, but the bulk should be relatively inexpensive. A word to the wise, don’t make the mistake of trying to be too bold and showy, springing for something you can’t afford just to look cool. Being broke is never cool, and it will just make for a little less enjoyment overall.

Go for more of the things that truly make you happy, and forget about impressing others. People are most impressed by individuality and confidence over objects, so keep that in mind. That being said, when looking for dorm décor sometimes it bleeds into things that are more functional and actually beneficial for improving study habits, posture, and overall health. These types of items (like standing desks or proper seating) can really have a positive impact on quality of life and should be carefully considered.


Desktop Flair

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

Desks, tables, dressers— they all have space to house some cool décor items that highlight your interests, and these have become super popular in the last few years. Around the Newegg offices we only have our desktops to showcase our style so action figures and collectibles are stationed in every square inch of available space.

For students, there are two really slick options for adding desktop flair to the dorm that are affordable and up-to-date with the latest characters from comics, video games, movies and TV shows— Funko POP dolls and Pixel Pals light-up characters.

Funko POP dolls are the loveable, big-headed polyurethane characters that have become very popular with their options for the comic, video game, TV show, and movie representations of fan favorite characters.

Some of the Newegg favorites:

Fallout Vault Boy

Who doesn’t love his cheery enthusiasm and positive attitude?


Everyone’s favorite potty-mouth superhero is the comic relief we all need in the stressful times.

Baby Groot

The smallest Guardian proves that willpower is greater than stature, and super cute to boot.


Pixel Pals hit all the nostalgic keys with cult classic 8-bit characters, that have battery-powered lights on the inside. These little guys are awesome, and when lit up produce quite an impressive appearance.

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

Some of the Newegg favorites:


You can’t go wrong with the protector of Gotham, keeping a watchful eye on your dorm goodies.

The Joker

Without him, Batman would just be Bruce Wayne. The mischievous look on his face says it all— he bring the mystery and danger.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If radioactive slime worked this well in real life, I’d be rolling in the goo. The whole crew is ready to stomp The Foot and snag some pizza after.


The Workstation

dorm room pc thumbnail

Most people don’t think outside the box when getting their dorm decked out, they look at the big white walls and think that is the easiest thing to tackle so they get some posters and stop there (like I did). The thing is, workstation upgrades are actually one of the most functional changes students can make to their dorm room that actually pay dividends back.

The desk is something that is used every day, and not only do the desk upgrades provide more customization, upgrading to a standing desk has some real benefits for productivity, posture, and potentially health-wise as well.

Check out our guide on how to choose a standing desk for college students, to find the right fit for your budget and needs.

Some of the Newegg favorite standing desks:

Varidesk Pro Plus Desktop Riser


For those on a more limited budget or who don’t want to replace the entire desk setup, desktop risers sit nicely atop the standard desk and can be manually lifted up or down to accommodate sitting or standing positions. To get a basic upgrade and provide a healthier workstation without going too far over-budget, the desktop risers get the job done.

ApexDesk Flex Pro Bluetooth Electric Standing Desk


The electric standing desks are in another game altogether, and provide ultimate customization with the push of a button. Programmable heights allow for one-touch transitions from standing, to sitting, to anything in-between and have a wide workspace. These even have Bluetooth control via app, so if the desk also functions as a TV stand it can be operated to the perfect viewing height from across the room. Pretty snazzy, and one of the best investments to make when thinking about long-term working health.


Gaming Chairs

At Newegg, we do love our gaming chairs. Like, really love them. I can stand up and count no less than 20 just within eyesight, and more come pouring in all the time. It isn’t just because they have an awesome style that gets the love from our crew, it’s the support they provide.

Gaming chairs have a multitude of adjustments to make for a perfect fit, offer great support from long hours of studying (long hours of gaming too), and are really built to last with dense foam and quality components.

There are mounds of different gaming chairs on the market, and at Newegg we’ve pretty much tested them all. Check out our ultimate guide on gaming chairs for all the info on the best gaming chairs to look out for.

Here are a couple solid choices we are fond of here at Newegg:

Vertagear P-Line PL6000

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

While not what I’d consider a budget-buy, the Vertagear P-Line is a sturdy series that is built to withstand lots of abuse and larger weight classes. Unlike other gaming chairs, it has a wide base so it offers less confinement for those who dislike feeling like they are in a fighter jet cockpit.

Vertagear S-Line SL4000

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

The S-Line from Vertagear is their more affordable line, and a solid buy for the more “racing” look. With a variety of colors available, the savvy can match their dorm décor to the furnishings and have a really slick space.

noblechairs EPIC Series Leather

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

For students with a little extra pocket change and who prefer the finer things in life, the noblechairs EPIC Series is their gold standard. noblechairs uses quality materials to make products with fine craftsmanship, and this iteration of their line uses real leather (not a common practice in the gaming chair world).

N Seat Pro 600

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

N Seat is not as well-known as the other two brands mentioned, but that is no reason to count them out. Their quality and design are sound, and they offer a different style from the rest. The quilted stitch pattern on the seat really make this one a keeper for us, and it is quite comfy to boot.


Floor Covering

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

The most overlooked part of the dorm is the most used— the floor. While it takes the brunt of the abuse in dorm life from spilled Cup Noodles to a variety of other unmentionable mistakes, there is plenty of room to class it up and make it unique.

By far the best upgrade to the dorm floor we have found is this epic Millennium Falcon rug, that isn’t even a want, it’s a need. This thing is big enough to cover the entire floor space depending on the size of your living quarters, and makes me feel like I’m riding shotgun with Chewy. Everyone loves Star Wars, but very few have the kind of class that this rug brings, which a sure show-stopper and conversation piece.

The best part is if you are somehow able to keep this thing clean throughout the year and take it to post-dorm life, it really can become the center of a Star Wars-themed room or even the center of the living space.

On the more subtle side, for the students who opt for a standing desk one of the key components is making sure that you have the gear to make it comfortable. Just because the primary position for the desk use is upright doesn’t mean it has to be uncomfortable. The Varidesk anti-fatigue mat for standing desks is a necessity to ensure that you can endure long spells of standing or leaning without getting tired or sore.  


Brighten it Up with Smart Lighting

Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

Geeni Wi-Fi LED smart bulbs and plugs are a super easy and cheap dorm décor upgrade, which add great character to the room. Smart lighting is an awesome way to have greater control over customizing the dorm space to a variety of colors, brightness levels, or tones all from a nifty smartphone app.

The Geeni LUX 800 bulb is a 60W equivalent white LED bulb, which can be dimmed or brightened at-will from either the phone app or voice control (via Alexa or Google Assistant) without a standalone hub.  One cool thing is that the bulbs can be controlled singularly or as groups, so those with a couple lamps or lighting setups can customize their lighting.

Geeni’s RGB Prisma bulb has the same functionality as the white bulb, but with the added element of virtually any color selection. While somewhat novel (but undoubtedly cool and great for relaxation or party scenes), adding a slight hue to certain areas of the room brighten up the space and splash some personality into the quarters.


Make it Yours


Dorm decor, back to college, back to school, collectibles, toys

At the end of the day the dorm is your own space, where a lot of time will be spent over the next year. Do what makes you happy, and think of it like a work-in-progress. What you do at the beginning of the year may change as time goes on, so don’t get overly-committed to one thing (Advice: never try to paint walls black). There are countless ways to customize living quarters from building it out with cool Smart Home tech to make a smart dorm, to customizing the furnishings and beyond. Only your imagination and housing authority can limit what you can do.  

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Author Gregory Rice

Greg is a collector of hobbies, steeped in a love for the outdoors. Drop him in the woods and he's more at home backpacking, hunting, fishing, camping, and drinking out of streams than he is behind a desk pounding away at a keyboard. He's an avid homebrewing enthusiast and a craft beer fanatic. He enjoys testing out the latest drone tech and is a firm believer in the power of IoT and home automation tech to bring us into a more productive future (or give way to Skynet, time will tell).

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