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Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.
  • after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Ah, the classic indie-inspired dorm room.

It’s not as loud as a glamorous dorm room dripping with rhinestones or a dorm room packed with a rainbow of colorful blankets and pillows, but the subtle elegance of the indie style gives it a timeless appeal. 

When you think indie, you probably think muted colors and antique touches -- not only is the soft indie color palette cozy, it also gives you plenty of room to play around with funky patterns, unique decor items, and retro themes.

But where do you begin? How do you know if an indie-inspired dorm room is right for you, anyway? Don’t worry, we’ve got all the answers. In this handy guide to the indie dorm room, we’re going over everything you need to create the ultimate indie space, including:

  • Where indie-inspired decor comes from
  • How to know if an indie-inspired dorm room is right for you
  • Tips for packing a lot of indie flair into a small space
  • Some of the cutest indie dorm decor and accessories you’ll want to grab this semester

Excited? We are too, so let’s jump right in!

A Brief History of Indie Style

Where does your favorite dorm room style come from? We’re talking about indie’s roots in bohemian, beat, and the counterculture movement

Indie-inspired dorm decor (and really indie-inspired anything) is a product of the counterculture in the 1950’s and 60s. It has really spiked in popularity since the start of the new millennium. Image courtesy of Google Books Ngram.

Similar to other trends -- like bohemian, hipster, and retro styles -- indie is descended from the counterculture and beatnik movements of the 1950s and 60s. It was all about rejecting the rigid styles and social rules that were popular in the mainstream at that time. 

So what makes indie different from the other styles that evolved from that era? Indie generally refers to independent art -- independent music, independent films, independent style. What we know as indie (or at least, the first wave of indie) really began to pick up steam in the early 2000s. Think 500 Days of Summer, or maybe the baggy t-shirts and beanies of skatepunk but dressed up with a blazer or cardigan.

Over the last couple of years we’ve also seen a modern resurgence of indie style in TikTok’s Indie Kid aesthetic, which is somewhat brighter and more whimsical than the initial wave of indie.

People who identify with the indie style might listen to or make their own music, shop at thrift stores for clothes, and enjoy the occasional antiquing trip. Indie is all about doing you. 

Since it has an emphasis on thrifted and recycled fashion and decor, indie is pretty affordable and accessible as far as styles go. Even if you don’t have a single piece of indie decor in your room right now, you can still transform it into the ultimate indie haven without breaking the bank. 

That makes it the perfect decor choice for styling your dorm room on a college budget.

Is An Indie-Inspired Dorm Room Right for You?

Here’s How to Figure Out if Indie Style is Your Style

We’ve already spent some time talking about some of the elements that make indie, well, indie. But how do you know if it’s the right choice for your dorm room? How do you know your dorm style is more indie, rather than beach house chic or patriotic or rainforest themed?

To help you decide, we’ve put together a list of some things that are pretty common in the world of indie style and decor. If these are the types of design elements you’d love to have in your space, there a good chance that an indie-inspired dorm room could be right for you:

  • Muted color palettes ⚪️🟤⚫️ 
  • Bold accent pieces with bright colors or funky designs 🌈
  • Retro pieces like old cameras, record players, or typewriters 📽
  • Physical media like newspaper, printed photos, and physical books 📚
  • Making or enjoying independent music, art, or film 🎨
  • The 60s and 70s (or the 00s), but flower power just isn’t your vibe 🤷🏻‍♀️

If any of these things sound like you, consider making indie-inspired pieces a part of your dorm decor this year!

4 Tips for Creating an Indie-Inspired Dorm Room

How to Pack As Much Indie Style as Possible Into a Small Space

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1.   Start with neutral colors

Before you start going design-crazy, you’ll need to pick a color palette to get you started. When it comes to creating an indie-inspired dorm room, there’s really no right or wrong way to go here. Many indie rooms will include a wide variety of colors because you don’t always have a ton of control over what color your thrift store finds are. 

That being said, you can also go for a more curated indie look. Your color palette can be simple, just neutrals and one or two colors.

Either way, you’ll need to lay a good foundation to ground the design of the room. For many dorm dwellers, white is the perfect starting point because it’s a pretty standard dorm room wall color, so you’ll have a lot of it to work with regardless of what other design choices you make.

If you’re looking for something a little warmer, you could also choose a cream color or beige. Gray will give you a cool, modern look.

Your neutral color should make up some of the major background space in your room, like walls, curtains, rugs, and so on. You can even extend your neutral color pick to your bedding set, if you want. It really depends on what you want the balance of neutral/colorful decor to be in your space!

Even if you decide to keep your bedding neutral, you can add some personal flair to it by choosing something with a subtle print or some texture. Once you have your backdrop set, it’s time to move on to step 2.‍

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2.   Add vibrant accent pieces

With a neutral base to build on, you have plenty of freedom to mix and match fun colors, textures, and prints to add a little bit of your own independent style to your dorm room. 

Muted, earth-inspired accent colors will give your dorm room a cozy, sepia photograph feel. If you want to feel like you’ve stepped through a faded polaroid back in time, this can be a great way to go.

Looking for something a little bolder? That’s definitely an option too. Maybe you want to build a bright and uplifting color palette that includes royal purple, aqua blue, turquoise green, and even shiny metallics that will really make your space stand out. 

You could take inspiration from the sunny colors and groovy prints of the 60s for a more hippie-inspired style.

Or if you’re more of a minimalist, subtle colors like black, plum, or maroon can give your indie dorm room a dreamy and romantic but also polished feel.

Color isn’t your only option for creating accents in your dorm room, though. You can also create focal points in your room by utilizing different textures. Shag rugs, burlap cloth pin boards, and distressed furniture all create a space that looks like you put in a ton of thought into each and every piece in the room (even if you just got it shipped to your door from our shop or it was a hand-me-down from an older sibling).

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3.   Get cozy with indie-approved dorm decor that’s practical and inviting

Indie decor tends to be pretty chill and relaxed, which means creating spaces where you can lounge or hang out with friends is a must in any indie-inspired space. Unfortunately, living in a dorm room means that you may run into some serious issues finding enough space for a bona fide hangout spot.

So let’s talk seating. 

One of the easiest ways to add seating options to your dorm room is to bring in accent pillows that can double as floor seating. It’s comfortable, practical, and functional, and it goes with that bohemian vibe.

Speaking of cozy, consider sectioning off your space so that each area serves a purpose. Create a canopy with light fabrics and string lights for your bed. Bunk your desk so that you have a study nook, and hide your linens and clothing in a closet draped in light muslin or drapes.

Anything you can do to create spaces within your room will help the design feel more complete and put together.

Since it is a dorm room, keep an eye out for pieces that do double duty. A cute storage chest that’s also a bedside table? Yes please! Any opportunity to turn essential storage into decor helps you max out the style you can cram into your limited dorm room space.

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4.   Let there be light (but not gross overhead fluorescent light)

Dorm rooms are not known for being cozy, at least not when you first move in. The blank white walls, the hard floors or thin carpeting, and maybe worst of all, the intense fluorescent lights. Particularly if your dorm room doesn’t get a lot (or any) natural light.

Luckily, lighting can be a great way to incorporate a little bit of indie-inspired flair into your dorm room. When it comes to indie, you have tons of options for the direction you take, but we recommend looking for lighting options that tie together other elements of your room design.

Did you pick a bedding set with a cool print? Look for desk lighting and side table lamps that have lots of fun twists and curves to mimic the design. You don’t have to pay big bucks for them, either. Swing by a thrift store near campus and you’re sure to find some interesting light fixtures for just a few dollars.

Want a softer look for laid-back evenings in the dorm? Consider stringing up some oversized fairy lights or vintage-inspired marquee letters to use as your primary lighting. Hang these on the wall or over the bed for a dorm your guests to ooh and ahh over, or string up a whole canopy of fairy lights to give your room a cozy, starlit feel that fits with the indie vibe you’re trying to create.

With the indie style, there are just so many options that work for what you want.

There you have it… everything you need to create the ultimate indie-inspired dorm room.

Indie-inspired dorm rooms are fun -- they’re cozy, they’re eclectic, and best of all, they really reflect the style of the person who put the room together. If you’re looking for a fun dorm room style that will let you show off your personality without blowing your budget out of the water, indie is a great choice. 

After reading this guide you should have plenty of background information and lots of fun indie inspiration. All that’s left to do is get out there and start designing. Good luck!