How To Plan A Pinterest Worthy College Dorm / Apartment .

College move-in day is right around the corner! I know many of you are getting ready to move into your first college dorm or apartment so today I’m here to help you plan the perfect space. From cute decor to practical necessities, Walmart has been my one-stop shop for everything over the years. They’ve got hundreds of affordable options to help you bring your space to life without breaking the bank.

I’m getting ready to enter my senior year of college and have truly lived in every housing situation— freshman year I was in a suite-style dorm, sophomore year I was in my apartment-style sorority house, and junior year I was in an off-campus 4 bed, 4 bath apartment. This year, I’ll be living with five other girls in Florence, Italy! So to say I’ve done it all is truly an understatement.

Today I’m sharing my best tips and tricks when it comes to bringing a space to life and linking tons of products I’ve used and loved over the years so that you can shop.

If you’re looking for a general packing list/list of college essentials to bring with you, I recommend checking out this blog post.

my freshman year dorm

STEP ONE: FIND SOME INSPO PHOTOS

Getting ready to design your dream room? Start by gathering a few inspo photos. My go-to for this is Pinterest. As you can tell from some of these photos, I’ve gone with several different themes over the years, switching up my color palette and overall vibe each school year.

I recommend typing in a few keywords into the search bar and Pinterest will generate dozens of photos that matched the aesthetic you’re going for. For example-boho, neutral, room decor. I then screenshot a few of these photos to reference as I’m shopping for my room decor.

my sophomore year sorority house

STEP TWO: PICK A COLOR PALETTE 

From here you can decide on a color palette. Picking a scheme will help keep the room cohesive and make shopping much easier!

It’s important to choose one basic (white, ivory, or black). Then, you can pick a neutral (gray, beige, tan, etc). This is a color that may have different variations and although is a color, is super versatile. Then you will pick a pop of color. This can be whatever hue you desire but is a piece that can be used across decor, throw pillows, and wall prints. Over the years I’ve done blush, yellow, rustic orange, and fuscia!

my junior year apartment 

STEP THREE: ASSESS WHAT COMES WITH THE ROOM 

Next up, assess what comes with the room. Some dorms have closets while others have wardrobes. Some give you nightstands others do not. Knowing what furniture will be given to you, if any, will help you better prepare/plan your space. I have had some apartments come furnished, and some not.


A few must-haves if you’re moving into a space that is not furnished: stackable drawers, desk, floor-length mirror, storage cubes, etc.


This might also be the time to assess your closet situation. In all of my rooms, I grabbed stackable under-the-bed storage containers for extra clothing space and a hanging shoe rack for my closet door! Things like these are key to grab before move-in day since they sell out quickly at local stores. I also recommend bringing velvet hangers, a shoe rack, and some foldable storage cubes to keep some of those “extras” stowed away and out of sight. 

my pre-senior year/internship apartment 

STEP FOUR: GRAB YOUR BEDDING 

Once you’ve got an idea of your colors/theme and you know what size bed you’ll have you can pick out your bedding. For all of my years of college, I’ve stuck with white bedding. I know some people worry that it will get dirty but I find that it’s the easiest to clean since you’re able to bleach it! I prefer a comforter rather than a duvet/insert but that’s just personal preference.


I recommend grabbing a throw blanket + a few throw pillows in your accent color to really tie the space together. I’ve also loved having a husband pillow throughout college if you’re planning on using your computer in bed!

STEP FIVE: CHOOSE YOUR WALL DECOR 

Next up, choose your wall decor! While most college kids like to go for an array of hometown momentous, photos of friends and family, and sorority-painted canvases, I prefer something a bit more sophisticated and cohesive.


I’ve created a huge gallery wall in every college space, alternating between classic and bohemian prints. This is such an easy way to personalize your space and really bring it to life!

Never underestimate the power of curtains. They transform a room almost instantly making it feel so much homier and help bring in the natural light.

If your room has ugly blinds or tacky shades, purchase two large command hooks and stick these to the wall. These are strong enough to hold a cheap tension rod and your newest pair of curtains.


Headboards also elevate your space instantly. I’ve had one every year of college and it’s always the piece that sets my room apart from others. I’ve had several over the years as my bed size has varied. They’ve got tons of options at Walmart but you can also find these for super cheap on Facebook Marketplace.

Bed skirts also make a world of a difference. Especially if you’re raising your bed to maximize storage underneath. Plus, they make the room look far more sophisticated.

My last piece that many people overlook but truly makes your room feel and look like a million bucks is a large full-length mirror to lean against the wall. These will run you at least $50 a pop (for a good one!) but they help open the space up and make for a killer photo op. I have a few and my favorite one is this gold one from Walmart. I’ve used this for years and everyone swears by it.

I move in to begin my senior year in one week and have no idea what my living situation will be like… needless to say I’m getting antsy! Of course, I’ll keep you posted once I find out. In the meantime, I hope you found this post helpful. If you are going to be in college this year, be sure to send me photos of your college dorm/apartment. I’d love to see how it came to life! Happy back to school shopping…

With love, McKenz

Latest Post: Outer Banks Travel Guide Summer 2022
Related Post: Freshman Year Dorm Tour
Instagram // Tik Tok // YouTube // Pinterest