6 Great Ways to Decorate Your Dorm Room with Lights

Dorm Room String Lights feature

Every fall, SUVs and minivans descend on college campuses around the country, dropping students off for another new school year. Whether you’re a freshman moving in to your first space of your own, or a returning student looking to up your game, there’s tons of great ways to use lights to make your dorm room or apartment a bit more personal!

Let’s face it; most college housing is pretty minimalist and functional if not institutional.  You can personalize your space with bedding and posters, but creative dorm lighting is a great way to not only make things look unique, but to also make the space more functional.  Dorm rooms have basic boring fluorescent lighting and apartments (might) have a lamp or two, but both of them are typically pretty poor at making your room feel like your home away from home.  It is, after all, where you’re going to be living most of the next nine months.  

Here are a few ideas to make your space better and brighter.

1. Wrap Your Space with Rope Lights

Rope lights are a great way to add light around architectural features or to do a little “creative writing.”  If you’re the neat and orderly type — science majors and engineers, you know who you are — any edge in a room can be a great spot to hang rope lights: around a door or window, inside a bookshelf or desk area, or around the edges of bunks or lofts.

Or, for those creative writing types, rope lights can be a great great way to “write” something inspirational – or comedic – on your wall in lights.  Make a statement!

Dorm Rope Lights writing
Source: the LaLa

2. Accent Safely with LED Mini Lights

Regular lights can get warm, but LED mini lights are much cooler to the touch and allow you to get a bit more creative. Get a set of white or multicolor mini lights and string them around the loft, along a wall or behind a desk for a simple improvement. LED mini come in so many bulb shapes and colors so you can create the look that’s right for you. Below, this loft and lounge area is accented with purple and cool white LED C6 Mini Lights.

College Dorm Mini Lights

You can also combine your lighting and photos from your phone: hang a string of LED lights in a straight or zig-zag pattern on the wall and get prints of your favorite pictures; then, use the cord and mini clips to hang photos of friends, family and other favorite snapshots.  The lights are a great way to highlight your photos and fill a large wall with something that is visually interesting, as well.  

LED Mini Lights with photos
Source: Dorm Design

3. Get Creative with Paper Lanterns

All by themselves, paper lanterns are an easy and inexpensive way to add a pop of color to your apartment or dorm room.  Lanterns can be easily hung using fishing line, or for a more decorative look, you can use ribbons or decorative cords .  There’s a rainbow of color options as well; we have over 40 different color options.  The typical round paper lantern is available in six different sizes from 8 to 18 inches, and mixing and matching the sizes and colors of the lanterns makes for a unique eye-catching look.  Plus, paper lanterns are not limited to simple globes.  There are star shapes, cocoons, beehives, and squares, as well as other unique shapes.

Dorm Room Paper Lanterns

For an even more flexible option, LED battery powered light kits are a great “go anywhere” solution.  With no cord to contend with, battery powered LED light sets with paper lanterns can go anywhere that has a space to hang them.  And you can make things really ease with a remote controlled version that incorporates with nearly any paper lantern you choose.  

4. Add Pendant Lights for Metro Look

Another classic and simple way to add a bit of personality to your space is a simple single-socket pendant lights.  A basic black cord is a great functional option, or new fabric twist pendant cords add a bit of panache to this look.  Add your choice of a standard bulb for simple lighting or a vintage style bulb for a retro-classic look.  Of course they also work great when paired with one of the paper lantern options discussed above.  

Pendant Light with ST58 Edison Bulb Pendant Light with LED G80 Vintage Bulb Pendant Lights with T14 Edison Bulb

5. Go Bigger with Globe Lights

Globe lights are a cost-effective great alternative to standard non-LED string lights.  Globes come in a variety of colors and finishes, ranging from white clear to satin multicolor, and feature an array of sizes.  Globes are especially effective hanging underneath things, either along the inside of bookcases, or dangling from bunks or lofts to provide light below.  And they’re much more appealing than the “spotlight” of a single clip lamp in a smaller space.

Dorm Globe Lights
Source: Dorm Design

6. Add Personality with Novelty Party Lights

The old standby!  There’s no right or wrong way to hang novelty lights – they work in every place and every situation.  And nothing says “I’m a college student” as clearly as classic novelty lights in the shapes of red party cups and beer caps … or perhaps you’re dreaming of spring break and showing off flip flops and palm trees.  Regardless of what you choose, novelty lights make a fun statement in your space no matter where you hang them!

Palm Tree Party Lights Emoji Party Lights Whale Party Lights

Final tips

A few last things to keep in mind when decorating your space.  Non-LED lights can get hot, so be smart about the size of light and the space in which you place it.  Also, many dorms and some apartments will have rules about what type of lighting is appropriate or allowed, so be sure to check the rules for your place.

We’ve provided you with some ideas, but you can also find inspiration on our College Room Lights Pinterest board.

You can also shop some of our favorite Back to School College Dorm Lights online! We’re sure PartyLights.com customers have their own unique way of using lights to decorate their college home. We’d love to see what you’ve come up with, so be sure to post your ideas on social media and tag us on Facebook (@partylightscom) or Instagram (@partylights_com).

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