Most college students limit their dorm décor to posters, thinking little else will be able to hang on their bland dorm room walls without taking off paint and getting charged a ridiculous amount of cash. With modern hanging tools, you can hang pretty much anything your heart desires in a dorm room. I got away with putting up a chandelier, a 5-foot-tall Beatles painting, drapes with blackout lining, and a disco ball in my room this year. Next year, I am planning on hanging up a four-post bed canopy.
The key to turning your dorm room into a great personal space and making it feel like a home instead of like a prison is hanging up things on the wall and ceiling. To begin hanging, you must first have the perfect toolbox for the job. I recommend keeping this in your room year-round for touch-ups or unexpected additions to your art collection.
You’ll need: a level, scissors, duct tape, double stick tape, colorful ribbon, tension rods, tacks, 3M picture hanging strips, Velcro, and 3M hooks in varying sizes. I promise I don’t get paid by 3M, but I swear, we at Peace Love & Decorating could use a few bucks from them with all the hooks we buy every year. Their hooks are really the best. They hang on your walls and ceiling without pulling off the paint and can hold great amounts of weight. They’re a little pricey, so check out coupons online before you hit the stores.
Also, check your dorm’s official policy on wall damage before putting anything up. Some dorms don’t let you use tacks, while others only let you use tacks.
When you hang mirrors with the picture hanging strips or chandeliers with the hooks, make sure you follow the directions on the packaging. I know you want to get your dorm ready for entertaining as soon as possible, but you really do need to wait the amount of time it says before putting weight on the hooks, otherwise they could fall down mid-year and take off a huge amount of plaster. I’m speaking from experience here, be patient!
First, read the directions and begin hanging up paintings and pictures on the walls. For heavier items, like a full-length mirror, use picture-hanging strips. For lighter items, like a regular poster, double-sided tape should be fine.
Next, hang your window treatments. To hang over a window, first attach two 3M hooks to either side of the top part of the window. Adjust your tension rod to the correct length. I recommend adding a bit of duct tape to the adjustable part of the tension rod to keep it in place. Put your drapes on the tension rod and after the hooks have set, hang the rod from the hooks. If you put two more hooks farther down the window and add some ribbon, they can be used to hold the drapes back during the day when you want to get a bit of extra sunshine.
Concentrate on the ceiling next. 3M makes special ceiling hooks specifically for hanging down items from the ceiling. A little thinking outside the box goes a long way when it comes to the ceiling. My roommate and I put about seven 3M hooks on both sides of our ceiling and then strung colored Christmas lights from one side to the other. We then hooked the lights up to a Clapper (that’s right, like “clap on, clap off”). The result was amazing and we loved it. Other ideas are to use streamers, hang chandeliers or paper lanterns. If you have a lofted bed (poor you) just make sure the ceiling décor is high enough not to hit you while you are sleeping or else you’re in for a rude awakening.
For hanging pictures, a bulletin board always looks good, but I chose to go a more creative route in my room. On an entire wall behind my bed, I first used double-sided tape to hang pictures, magazine articles, tags from clothing, ribbons and anything I had lying in my room. After that, I used Sweet Bella Japanese rice tape to criss-cross over the pictures to make a bulletin-board-style wall a bit more mature and stylish.
If you’re lucky enough to have to climb six feet off the ground to get into your bed, don’t forget the under part of the bed. Often it has a kind of metal netting that can be used to hang things via a ribbon tied to the netting. Mobiles work well here as so chandeliers.
Even with these tips, accidents happen: your friend accidently hits the drapes and they fall off the wall, you hang your 50 pound purse on one of the 3 pound hooks and it falls of the wall… At the end of the year be ready to make some repairs. Depending on how much your college charges for wall repairs, it may be worth it to just leave them, but for those colleges (like UGA) that are a bit stingy with their extra paint and spackle, repairing the wall yourself may be a good option and painting isn’t difficult. It can also save you lots of money. See here for advice on how to repair a battered wall or ceiling.
College Style is an online fashion blog concentrating on the realities of college life, the latest news in fashion and style, style inspirations from across the world or from across the street, and dorm decorating tips and trends.