5 Trending Aesthetics & How To Try Them Out In Your Dorm Room This Fall

Lean into what’s hot.

by Isabella Biedenharn

Whether you’re an eager, nervous freshman or a senior torn between feeling prematurely nostalgic for college and absolutely ready to graduate, fall move-in day always brings so many feelings and questions with it. What will classes be like this year? Will you run into that person in the dining hall (you know the one)? Which new outfits thrifted over the summer should you debut first? These thoughts are all valid, but can also feel totally overwhelming. That’s why it’s a good idea to tackle something easy and foundational when you’re getting your bearings at the start of a new year: your dorm room.

Small spaces can be notoriously tough to decorate (especially if you’re working with prefab dorm furniture and cinderblock walls), but with a little inspiration, those constraints can become a fun creative challenge. NYLON teamed up with Pinterest to round up five trending aesthetics and break down how you can incorporate them into your space without putting nails into the walls, losing your off-campus security deposit, or driving your roomies to change the locks.

Here are five styles you can expect to see everywhere this fall.

1. #Cottagecore

If you’ve spent any time on social media in the past year, you’ve probably stumbled into #cottagecore. It’s basically a whimsical aesthetic encapsulated by the fantasy of living in a cozy cottage in rural England with wood furniture, floral bedspreads, lots of nearby fields to frolic in, and hot cups of tea multiple times a day. If the idea of peaceful self-sufficiency appeals to you, bring elements of #cottagecore into your dorm by filling small vases or recycled jars with fresh flowers, investing in floral-printed linens, stocking up on plenty of tea, and thrifting for some mismatched teacups, dishes, and glassware. Candles are also extremely #cottagecore — but if those are against the rules in your space, fake ones will do nicely.

For more inspiration on going #cottagecore (with a touch of hygge) on a budget, check out this Idea Pin from editor Samantha Darby.

2. Modern Mystic

Let’s be real: You check your horoscope weekly (sometimes daily), own a crystal (or seven), and can’t help gazing skyward when you need to find a little inner peace. If you had glow-in-the-dark stars on your ceiling or a starry sky nightlight, this could be the aesthetic you’ve been searching the galaxy for.

The modern mystic look revolves around celestial objects, the zodiac, and the natural beauty of purple-y dusk and star-filled nights. You can incorporate it into your decor by seeking out wall-mounted lights in the shape of a moon or zodiac symbols (alternatively, look for ones that can be mounted on a desk or dresser if you can’t put holes in the wall), and experimenting with peel and stick wallpaper that features prints inspired by your sun, moon, or rising sign. Or change it up completely and give your dorm a sign of its own. Accessorize with crystals, a tarot deck, or sticks of Palo Santo (don’t forget to check the rules to see whether you can actually burn it!), and choose twilight blues and deep purples when you need to incorporate color.

Ready to put this theme in place? Bustle’s Samantha Rullo has some excellent suggestions in her Idea Pin.

3. Japandi

Into minimalism but wish it had a little more character? Get familiar with Japandi, the aesthetic where Japanese design and Scandinavian minimalism blend into gorgeous, calming, and effortlessly functional spaces. Palette and texture are key here — think matte pastels and creamy earth tones mixed with materials you might find in a spa or a museum: cool concrete, light wood, crisp marble.

Obviously, you won’t be putting a marble coffee table in your dorm or pouring concrete over your carpet, but you can get the look by decorating with DIY textured vases or putting marble contact paper over your desk (or even your laptop). Just make sure every piece you choose has sleek lines and makes you feel at peace.

4. Vibey Lights

When you can’t go to the club, the next best thing is to bring its colorful neon lights to you. Vibey lights are making a bright statement these days, with LED or neon signs available at a variety of price points. Ball out with a custom neon sign displaying your nickname or personal mantra, or replace the bulb in your desk lamp with one whose color you can change via remote control or app. (Definitely make sure you have your roommate’s sign off on that one — or just enjoy your violet room when she’s pulling an all-nighter at the library). You’ll love the feeling of living in a lo-fi music video — or inside a mood ring — every day.

5. New Bohemian

Boho style always seems to be evolving. Right now, our favorite way to do hippie chic is to combine it with warm minimalism and a southwest flair, like pairing a white duvet with a pile of pillows in different textures, like white pom-poms or a colorful Mexican-inspired blanket. When it comes to rugs, think fluffy Moroccan-style you’ll be excited to sink your feet into after a long day of back-to-back classes, or layer a couple complementary-patterned ones on top of each other.

This style is ideal for the avid DIY-er: The types of macramé wall hangings you can create are endless, and the same goes for mini plant stands and tiny terrariums. Yes, for the green-thumbed among us, the ideal boho room is filled with plants — but fake is perfectly fine if you know plant parenthood doesn’t fit into your lifestyle. The less matchy the planters, the better, so go to your local thrift store and run wild.

Once you’ve narrowed down the look you’re going for, be sure to enter Bustle x Pinterest’s Storm the Dorm Sweepstakes — inspired by actor and incoming college freshman Storm Reid’s own amazing style — for a chance to win one of five $1,000 gift cards to bring your favorite aesthetic to life.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The Storm the Dorm Sweepstakes is open to residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 18 or older. Void outside the United States, in Puerto Rico, and wherever else prohibited by law. Sweepstakes begins at 11:00:01 AM ET on 08/31/21 and ends at 11:59:59 PM ET on 09/30/21. Click here for the Official Rules: Sponsor: BDG Media, Inc., 315 Park Avenue South, 12th Floor, New York, New York 10010.