Anyone who's ever had to decorate a small apartment or dorm room, one of the things that's the biggest issues is painting the walls. A room's atmosphere can be altered in a second through paint. Most apartments and dorm rooms don't allow painting or at least you have to paint it back, so what's the next big thing? Wall decor. The best way to upscale your tiny space is through artwork and abstract pieces.
Depending on your style and personality, a sleek bookcase can add a lot of interest to your space while taking up some wall space at the same time. You can display some of your collectibles, books, and baskets. Over cluttered bookcases make you look like a hoarder. Use balance and harmony when filling your bookcase. For more added interest, add your own spark and try painting or wallpapering the back panel. The possibilities are endless.
If you have a lot of vintage artwork that you'd collected over the years, now is the time to display those. Create an abstract feature wall using old frames and pictures. This will give your space an eclectic look and allow you cover up some of that white washed wall. It also allows you to pull colors out of the pictures and add them elsewhere in your home.
Depending on your wall type, whether you have a stucco finish or flat finish, you can add a large wall decal. Decals, like the ones you put on your car, are easy on and easy off. I've seen quote decals at all of the major department stores, but finding a really cool and much larger one would be fun too. Another great way to add color and interest to your space.
Shadow boxes are really cool because you can change them out depending on the season, or if you have new knick-knacks to put in them. A great way to use things from vacations, concerts, birthdays, and more. You can hang the boxes on the wall or prop them up on a shelf. Both are going to allow you to bring in color to your walls.
I hope you got some inspiration and you're not ready to give it quits on your new space. There are other options to cover up your walls such as large posters, tapestries, window treatments, mirrors, and more. Don't get frustrated when it comes to decorating your space. Use what you have and just spice it up a little. Pinterest is a great tool when it comes to DIY wall decor crafts and dorm room ideas.
If all else fails and you're planning on staying in your apartment for a year or so, go ahead and paint, but choose one wall, not all four. Create a feature wall with some of my suggestions above. Good luck with school and your new space!