Photo Displays for Dorm Rooms and Other Small Spaces

Summer has flown and back to school season is here. College students are moving into dorms and small apartments, and secondary school students are decorating their lockers.

Whether setting up a dorm room, small apartment, office, or desk, it’s nice to include little reminders of home in your decor.

Some of those reminders can be family photos. This may include a few photos of parents, siblings, best friends, and family pets.

The challenge: in small spaces, there’s very little room to decorate, and a lot of the space for displaying photos is shared with other people (like roommates).

Here are our favorite ideas for displaying photo reminders of home in small living spaces.

Get Ready to Decorate By Printing Your Favorite Photos

I know from my experience as the mom of a daughter that girls like to print lots of photos from phones or social media accounts. Keeping a large selection of prints handy provides more choices for grouping photo displays by family, friends, or vacations.

The best deal for printing large quantities of smaller prints (4” x 6” or 5” x 7”) is at local print shops like Walgreens, Kinkos, or Costco. For higher quality prints, we suggest using a local camera store photo lab.

Once you’ve organized your group of digital photos to print into a folder on your computer, upload the photo files to the store’s online ordering system. You can pick up high quality prints within a couple of days, sometimes even on the same day. Some photo processing companies will ship your prints to you.

These stores also print your photos in other creative formats. After uploading your photos, you can use their templates to create your own photo display projects like:

  • Print collages.
  • Calendars.
  • Photo books.
  • Poster prints.

Although they are digital natives, members of the millennial generation still enjoy seeing their printed photos on display.

Creative Solutions for Hanging or Framing Prints

The space may be limited, but the ideas for photo displays are limitless. A quick glance at Pinterest will set your head spinning.

Here are a few of our favorite ideas for hanging and framing photo prints:

Hang Photos to Minimize Clutter on Desks

Number one item on the shopping list here: tiny clothespins! Add a ball of twine and some thumbtacks and you can creatively hang several photos in a small space.

String twine or miniature light strands across walls or a bunk bed frame, then clip clothespins to the strands and add photos.

Bed, Bath & Beyond carries pre-assembled hanging options for your photos. They even sell a strand of LED-lit clothespins!

Umbra Wall Dangle from Bed, Bath & Beyond

Umbra Desk Dangle Frame from Bed, Bath & Beyond

In a previous post, we suggested Mixtiles, an easy-to-use app that lets you send photos from your phone. Mixtiles prints your pictures on 8” x 8” movable wall tiles, allowing you to change your wall collage on the fly – a great idea when dorm or apartment regulations prohibit nails in the walls.

When you can’t use nails, you can use Command strips to hang photos, but another fun idea is hanging photo prints with patterned or colored art tape, specifically, Washi Tape.

Amazon Washi Tape

Available at office supply and craft stores, or online at Etsy and Amazon, Washi Tape originated in Japan and is made from natural fibers such as bamboo, hemp, rice or wheat. It comes in a multitude of colors, patterns and finishes.

You can use this single-sided tape to stick photos to windows, mirrors, or walls. It’s easy to reposition and reuse and doesn’t leave a sticky mess when removing.

Be sure to buy brands of Washi Tape that are acid free and safe to attach to your photos.

Washi Tape Photo Wall

Photo Source: Sandy A La Mode

Finally, don’t forget “Old Faithful” – the bulletin board. Get creative and paint the board frame, or even add a string across the top and clip prints to clothespins.

Tiny Frames for Tight Spaces

While hanging prints gives a creative vibe, the addition of small framed prints brings a sense of order to your photo displays.

One tiny solution is magnetic framed prints on a magnetic whiteboard. Walgreens prints photos and add them into two frame sizes (4” x 4” and 4” x 6”) for $6.99 per framed photo.

Popping your framed photos onto a magnetic whiteboard, chalkboard, or bulletin board combination allows for organization and photo displays all in one place.

If you still want a few framed photos either on your wall or a desk, IKEA has a decent selection of inexpensive frames. And if you’re allowed to hang small shelves, try layering a group of photos in various small frames.

Expand Your Photo Displays by Going Digital

Use the technology you already own and save space by displaying your photos digitally.

Using slideshows or screensavers, you can set a group of photos to display on your computer screen while studying, or when friends come to dinner.

Mac users should consult these instructions to set a slideshow as their screensaver. Here are the instructions for PC users with Windows 10.

Apple TV
Mac users with Apple TV can project (or mirror) photos from an iPhone or iPad to a TV.

  1. Create or choose and album or slideshow in your Photos app.
  2. On the home screen of an iPhone or iPad, swipe up to view the Control Center.
  3. Tap “Screen Mirroring” then choose Apple TV.

Find more detailed instructions here.

Digital Frames
The technology behind digital frames has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years.

WiFi digital frames are now available and allow you to skip the cords and SD cards. My favorite digital frame (and the one I recommend to my clients) is Nixplay.

Although there are several styles and sizes, the 8-inch Nixplay Edge is a great basic starter frame. Here’s how to set up your frame:

  • Pair your frame to your WiFi, just as you would your iPhone or other bluetooth device.
  • Activate your frame on Nixplay’s website.
  • Share photos to your frame.

Amazon carries a large selection of Nixplay digital frames at discounted prices.

Make Your Small Space Your Own with Photos from Home

These photo ideas for small spaces aren’t just for students!

Anyone with a small office, bedroom, or other tiny living area can make these ideas work, as well. Creativity and thinking outside the box will take your decor from cramped and chaotic to streamlined and homey.

We hope these ideas get you started. Let us know how your small space photo displays work out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.