Dorm rooms are often unappealingly plain — just a spare space with off-white walls, utilitarian bunk beds, and particle-board desks.

But sprucing up a boring dorm room is relatively easy and doesn't have to cost a fortune. If you've been searching for some decor inspiration, here are some fun and affordable ways to turn a basic space into a home away from home.

Make a gallery wall

To snazz up your space, showcase your favorite memories with a customized photo wall. Consider collecting postcards of some of your favorite places or buying several inexpensive prints from vintage, resale or big box stores.

Papering your wall with instant-print photos is also a great way to remember and share the good times with classmates and friends. Use a Polaroid-style camera (such as the Fujifilm Instax Mini) to snap, print and display. Or print out the photos you take on your phone.

Also known as fairy lights or twinkle lights, string lights are a good way to add coziness to a room.
Also known as fairy lights or twinkle lights, string lights are a good way to add coziness to a room.

Dreamstime, TNS

Light up your space

Dorm room lighting can be a little dreary.

String lights are a simple and affordable way to create a little ambience. Some even have remote controls, smart lighting or strobe settings— for when the studying is done and it's time to party.

Drape string lights over the window and above your bed or add a little lighting to your closet. (Just be sure not to run afoul of your RA's rules.)

Rex begonias with more vivid colors make for a world-class potted plant.
Rex begonias with more vivid colors make for a world-class potted plant.

Maureen Gilmer, SHNS file

Add some fresh plants

Plants can add color, verve and style to any space. Favorite houseplants include rex begonia, money tree, crispy wave fern and candelabra tree.

If you're worried that your indoor plant will end up dead, fear not. You can always opt for fake plants. Look for the most lifelike you can find. And dust regularly.

Customize your walls with removable wallpaper

If your dorm room walls are a little too plain, consider removable wallpaper.

Though it's easier than most DIY projects, you may need some simple tools to get the job done.

The cheapest option, of course, beloved by college students for generations, is a collage of magazine-page cutouts.

Have fun with photos, postcards, prints or even magazine cutouts.
Have fun with photos, postcards, prints or even magazine cutouts.

Dan Whipps Photography, Dormify via MCT

Grab some stools

Stools are a simple way to upgrade your space. They're multipurpose, easy to customize and super lightweight. You can paint stools, hang things off of them, or even stack them on top of each other. They can become bookshelves, plant holders and even media consoles.