Instead of having to figure out how to decorate your dorm room (or any other space) on your own I decided to do as much research as a I could stand, but the more I googled ways to decorate dorm rooms the more disturbed I became. People suggested some weird things that were neither attractive nor environmentally friendly. Instead I am going to give vague ideas that may or may not be helpful (but that are more helpful than anything I could find).
1. Decorate with things you love: I am sure this one is obvious, but it doesn't have to be. I love to read, so last year I bought a collection of post cards that are book covers. They make boring white walls more interesting and they remind me of all of the things I wish I was reading.
2. Pictures of friends and family: It seems like when people go off to college (or even decorate their homes) they only take a few pictures in frames. It's not practical in a dorm room to have frames, and finding creative ways to place pictures around your room is way more interesting anyways. Try making a collage, posting them up to create a pattern or a larger picture, hang them on a piece of wire as if they were on a "clothesline" with pins, or just blue tape them where you like. I like to put up my pictures so they are all evenly spaced and create a square — it looks like they are framed by each other and the white space around them. I also like to create "bulletin boards" with wrapping paper — you can tape your pictures to them and put one anywhere.
3. Put up cork boards and white boards: Not only are they great to keep yourself organized, they can also add a personal touch and a more homey feel.
4. Avoid non-useful items: (this one is mostly for dorms) It is frustrating to have to move items that you will not use, let alone trying to live around them in a small space. I know you love your stuffed animals and other items that remind you of home, but maybe they could spend another year at home without you.
5. Stick to a color family: It is easier to make a space look less like a prison if you only use 1 color family to decorate (I would avoid orange and gray or you may make it look more like a prison). Having bedding match other small items in your room (such as a lamp, rug, or towels), makes your room look more put together.
6. Bring your own light: Using the florescent ceiling lighting creates a harsh, sterile light. Using lamps with CFL bulbs are a perfect solution to making your lighting more comfortable. My roommate and I rarely ever turned on our overhead light last year and people were constantly walking down the hallway telling us how "homey" and "cozy" our room was.
7. Organize: The more organized your room is the more you will be productive and comfortable. Your desk is an excellent place to start (or if you have already moved in, perhaps your floor).
8. Put things away: One thing I never understand is when people leave everything out on their counters and their cabinets are completely empty. Putting everything away gives you more room and makes your dorm look less like you exploded in it.
9. Reuse objects to fill a need: Reusing objects to make something you need is a not only a great way to save money, but also to add some individuality to your room. One year I used an iced tea bottle as a vase. There are endless things you can reuse either to organize or decorate.