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How to Decorate Your Dorm Room with Photos and Posters


Wall covered in posters
Photo Credit

When I wrote my first CF dorm room article, I was still anticipating moving into my single at school. Now I’m (almost) all moved in, and I’ve been getting loads of decor ideas and inspiration from my neighbors and new friends! This next article in our dorm room series will talk about some common ways people decorate their dorms with photos and posters.

If you’ve been following us as we’ve gone from choosing color schemes to room layouts, from shopping for bedding to furnishings, then you’ll know that we’ve reached the pinnacle: without further ado, let’s tackle how to decorate your dorm room with photos and posters!

Don’t worry, this isn’t the end of the dorm room series. Over the next few weeks we’ll talk about even more decor ideas, so keep checking back!

Photos and Posters

Wall of photos
Photo Credit

Every dorm room varies in layout and style, but everyone‘s got photos and posters of some sort in theirs. Simply putting them up with Sticky Tack isn’t very aesthetically pleasing (especially not to you, since you read CF!), but it can be difficult thinking of inexpensive, creative ways to display your family, friends, and vacation snapshots.

Want to get some photo arranging inspiration? Read on!

Tips for Printing Photos

  • There are normally two choices for standard photo printing: matte and glossy. Matte photos are muted, and are more commonly used by professionals, especially for sepia or black-and-white photos, and have a bit of texture to them. Glossy paper, on the other hand, creates much brighter colors, but reveals every tiny dent in the photo paper, and reflects much more light. I’m personally a big fan of matte photos – I feel that they look more chic and sophisticated.
  • If you’ve got time, order prints from websites like Snapfish. They have great deals, often including free shipping and up to 50 free prints!
  • If you’re pressed for time (like I was the night before I left for school), go to your local convenience store like CVS, Rite Aid, or Walgreens. They usually have photo printing centers, and you can upload your photos online and pick them up in-store.
  • Are you a fan of vintage and retro-era decor? Use Poladroid to turn your ordinary photographs into Polaroids. Having “Polaroids” instead of your standard 4″ x 6″ print broadens your arrangement possibilities.

Ideas for Arranging Photos

There are countless ways to arrange your photos. If you’ve got a suggestion that I didn’t think of, please tell us about it in a comment! That being said, here are some of my photo-arranging ideas.

  • Have your photos in frames? Put the largest one in the middle and arrange the smaller ones around it, as seen below. This promotes symmetry, which is always aesthetically pleasing.

Beachy room decor
Photo Credit

  • Mix up 2-D and 3-D elements for texture by putting some photos in frames, and leaving some the way they are. If you want a more eclectic, bohemian feel, the frames can be mismatched, otherwise, choose standard solid-colored frames that can be easily hung up.
  • Try creating a collage in a distinctive shape, like a heart. This is an easy way to arrange photos that are a mix of landscape and portrait, and could make an adorable faux headboard!
  • For a homey feel, get some twine or similarly thick string, some clothespins, and clip your photos up! You can even create an interesting collage by alternating photos and quotes, words, or even clipping these to Christmas lights (just use cool LED lights, or keep your photos away from the bulbs to avoid a potential fire hazard)!

Polaroid photos on a clothesline
Photo Credit

  • Take some inspiration from Banana Republic’s recent storefront displays and cover an entire section of wall in photos! This requires a bit of work to make sure the pictures are all evenly spaced, but when done right, this looks so cool.
  • If you have mostly landscape-oriented photos of scenery, try arranging them in a border near your ceiling, as seen here. This can be near your bed or as close to the ceiling as you’re allowed.
  • Have photos with good color value? Arrange them in rainbow order! (I arrange everything in rainbow order. It sounds strange, but looks awesome.)
  • Borrow an idea from this staircase photo and arrange your photos so they ascend. This adds visual interest, drawing the eye up and making the room seem larger.

Tips for Buying/Making Posters

  • To buy posters, check out the standard stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and Bed Bath and Beyond. For unique posters, try EtsyAllPosters, or even local movie theaters! I found a full-size Atonement movie poster for $3 at a nearby theater.
  • Have an image you want to blow up and stick on your wall like Lindsay Lohan’s poster of Stu Wolff in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen? Try The Rasterbator (funny name, awesome tool), which divides your photo into 8.5″ x 11″ segments, which you can then print and arrange as you see fit.
  • Tear photos or advertisements out of your favorite magazines! These can function as posters on their own, or can be collaged together for a nice effect.

Ideas for Arranging Posters

  • Sort out your posters by color scheme. Simply place the lighter-colored ones in one pile and the darker-colored ones in another, keeping them relatively separate when you hang them up. This streamlines your walls and doesn’t put too much strain on the eyes.
  • When you put them on your walls, keep the arrangement linear. Basically that means to have clear, clean-cut lines that the eye can easily follow, like in the photo below.

Collection of posters on a wall
Photo Credit

  • Just like with the photos, mix up 2-D and 3-D posters. Collect things from around your house and at garage sales with distinctive traits, like a campaign sign, retired license plates, or even cardboard cutouts.

Our Poster Picks

Here are some chic and mostly inexpensive posters we like. Of course, your style is totally up to you – these are just some potential ideas!

Cute and affordable posters for dorm rooms
Product Information, left to right, top to bottom: Lady Gaga Telephone, Vintage NYC Ballet, Cameras on Tin, Bubble-Wrap Calendar, The Great Wave, Pooh Piglet & Tigger, Eiffel Tower, Inception, Map of NYC, Alphabet

What Do You Think?

How did you organize and arrange your photos and posters in your room? Did you like our tips? What sorts of posters and photographs did you bring to college with you? Do you have any more suggestions for how to arrange them? Let us know with a comment!

Posted on on August 26, 2011 / Filed Under: Dorm Room / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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20 Responses to “How to Decorate Your Dorm Room with Photos and Posters”

  1. 1
    August 26th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I collect LP vinyls/record sleeves for many reasons, but one is for decorating – the album art is amazing and the records themselves can make pretty cool arrangements.

  2. 2
    August 26th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for all th advice!

    I would like to know about what we should use to stick posters to the wall. I have this poster that I really love so I don’t want to use pin because I don’t want it to have those holes. I was also thinking about the sticky tack but after try using it for some time and remove it, the tack would leave some oily marks at the back. Is there anything else you would recommend using so that after removing the poster, it will still look just as great as before we stick it to the wall? Any recommended brands?

  3. 3
    August 26th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Ellen, you could try using blue painter’s tape. It should come clean off the poster if you pull gently and I know it won’t remove the paint from the walls. (That’s a biggie- at my school they charge you $ at the end of the year if there are tons of holes in the paint from taking down posters :P ).

  4. 4
    August 26th, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Oh my god, I don’t think I can tell you how happy that Stu Wolff reference made me!!!

  5. 5
    August 26th, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Fantastic post. Thanks! :D

  6. 6
    August 26th, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Love this- and I had completely forgotten about Rasterbator! I might have to try to make room on my wall somewhere for one of those. It looked really cool.

    By the way, the Poladroid website is, not .com.

  7. 7
    August 26th, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I used six pictures from an old Ansel Adams 1995 to decorate one of my walls. I left the border around the pictures but didn’t frame it. They look great frame-less, and a year later, I’m still not tired of looking at them. Another suggestion for pictures is checking thrift stores for frames. I don’t like spending any more than I have to, and thrift stores really can have some great stuff. Just use your imagination. Don’t look at the color or the finish…look at the size and the style. Spray painting a bunch of cheap frames the same color can really pull them together, even if they all started out as independently heinous.

  8. 8
    August 27th, 2011 at 10:03 am

    My favorite trick is to buy a high quality calendar of a subject you love and then cut all the pages apart and use the pictures as posters. This gives you a group of images that all have the same borders and look good together. Copy shops near campus usually have paper cutters you can use if you want to be really OCD about the edges you cut off (which I did). The paper quality on my Waterhouse images was high enough that I had them all four years of college and never got bored with them. And the the bonus is that this time of year calendars are dirt cheap, though the selection might be somewhat limited as well.

  9. 9
    August 28th, 2011 at 10:30 am

    theres special poster strips you can buy that just come right off at the end of the year without damaging your poster or walls, its 3M command and they sell its almost everywhere, target, walgreens, etc. etc.

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