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How to Personalize a Shared Space

Jon Fesmire | August 14, 2019 @ 10:13 AM

If you’re living in a shared space such as a dorm room or an apartment, there’s a good chance you and your roommate are going to have different tastes in decor.

Here are some suggestions for how you and your roommate (or roommates), can personalize your shared space in peace.

Talk it Over

To avoid frustration and conflict over how the house should be arranged and decorated, the first thing to do is talk to your roommate and come up with a plan you can both live with. You can call a house meeting or perhaps go out to coffee and talk about options there.

Personal and Shared Areas

First, you’ll need to decide which areas are considered shared, and which are personal. If you each have your own bedroom, it’s clear your room is your space, and their room is theirs. However, the kitchen, living room, and other public areas are shared spaces.

More on Dorms and Other Shared Areas

You’ll need to come up with a plan for those shared areas. Will you decorate them together, leave them blank, or each choose an area that’s yours to decorate?

In a dorm, the two of you may decide that you each get to decorate around your beds and desks as you please and keep shared areas, such as the sink and mini-fridge neutral.

Planning Shared Spaces

We mentioned two ways to plan the decor of shared areas: each roommate gets one or more of these areas to personalize, or you can decorate them together.

If you go with the second option, you can have a lot of fun discussing what you want to put up. You might even go shopping together to pick things together. You may agree on a calendar to go by the front door, a couple of scenic, famed pictures for the bathroom, and so on.

Art and Photography

Art and photographs can really make a room feel homey. This could be art you created yourself, movie posters, a caricature from a carnival or theme park, or some canvas prints. In fact Costco does beautiful canvas prints for cheap. With some photo filters, such as those available from JixiPix, you can turn a photograph into a digital painting, then get it printed on canvas, and it will look like an actual painting.

You can put up pictures of loved ones, or you and your roommate can go out and take some pictures together to later put up on the walls.


Do you or your roommate collect Funko Pops or other figures to place around your place, giving it character? Do you have a collection of vintage baseball cards you could frame and put on the wall? Collectibles are meant to be admired and enjoyed, so consider how to use them in your decorating.

Stationary and Office Supplies

A great way to personalize your desk is with stationary and office supplies that somehow reflect your personality. Perhaps it’s that Mickey Mouse lamp, or the stationary with your favorite flowers in one corner that proclaim your desk as your space.

Potted Plants

Consider getting a potted plant or two. Make sure it’s not something that you or your roommate are allergic to.

In a dorm room, your potted plant may go on your desk. In an apartment or house, it may go in your room, or in the living room, as long as it’s somewhere that you can make sure it gets light during the day.

Plants are good for purifying the air and the site of plants is generally calming. You may buy a plant with your roommate, or get your own.

We hope this helps you, and your roommate, to decorate your dorm room or apartment in a way you’ll both enjoy.

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