I am completely jealous of the design that is happening in dorm rooms today. We’ve come along way from my day of posters, colored milk crates and trunks. Today’s space saving gadgets and accessories seem to transform these tiny spaces into cool little one-room apartments. A decked out dorm room seems to be the norm, but the key is to keep it simple, functional and cool.
Dorm room move-in is just around the corner, so it’s time to come up with a plan. Starting with a blank canvas can be a little daunting so we are here to help. Let’s break it into smaller tasks … step number one:
#1. Color Scheme & Style:
This is really the first step in decorating just about anything. Select a color scheme – having a cohesive look throughout the tiny space will do wonders for drawing the eye up (8ft ceilings) and around, thus giving the illusion of a larger space. Think in threes – start with your wall color, then add a calm neutral color and finish with a color that is fun and complimentary. Remember think apartment colors because most likely your bed will be elevated (loft style.) Next, get on the same page with your roommate about a theme. Whether it’s boho, glam, classic or contemporary – having a cohesive look will help in giving the room a larger appearance.
You will need several sets of sheets and I am a big fan of a duvet & cover. Duvet covers are much easier to wash and the proper duvet can provide warmth in the fall/winter and be cool in the spring/summer. My advice is to keep it simple and let the pillows/sheets bring the personality. Remember to choose fabrics that are comfortable (all cotton) as your bed will probably serve other roles – a study place, a lounging space, you name it.
(Click on item to shop: Daisy Reverse Stripe Cotton twin – Amazon $48, Navy Cotton Dot twin – Amazon $39, Bali Linen twin – The Company Store $189, Meghan Floral twin – The Company Store $65.)
(To Shop click on item: Washed Cotton Stripe twin – Amazon $46, Heathered Chambray twin – RH teen $99, Rugby Stripe twin – PBTeen $54)
(Click on item to shop: Sheets – both sets come in multiple colors and are in XL twin. The first option is a breathable & cooling microfiber that receives rave reviews – Amazon $31. The second option is an all cotton, 600 thread count that also receives high marks – Amazon $41.)
Unfortunately, most dorm rooms have awful florescent lighting, so it is important to add happy lighting. Keep in mind that having light sources that can be moved or directed is important (in case one roomie is pulling an all nighter studying and the other wants to sleep.)
(Click on item to shop: Gold vintage task desk lamp – Amazon $47, Black swing arm desk lamp – Amazon $31, Clamp desk lamp – Amazon $15, Plug in Sputnik Chandelier – Amazon $69, Plug in Pendant Light with dimmer – Amazon $27.)
This is an important one, because having a rug, and the correct sized rug, is key. It will take a cold space and warm it up instantly. I think bigger is better, the more of the cold tiled floor that is covered the better the space will look and feel. In my MSU Brody days, I actually had a plush lime green carpet that fit wall to wall (it was new and a left over from a family friend) and came with a great pad for underneath which made it so comfortable and had everyone hanging out to watch TV, playing cards, and get ready before parties in my room. The fun color provided personalty and because it was wall to wall it didn’t make the space feel closed in. This really comes down to what you want to spend. You can easily head to your local carpet store and see what remnants they have to offer – affordable and convenient. Of course the designer in me loves to offer a sassy fun option (that ships free) and will look apartment-like and hide everything in between vacuums (in case you actually do that!)
(Click on item to shop: Allen Home camel wool rug 5×8 – Amazon $209, Navy Antelope wool rug 5×8 – Amazon $249, Erin Gates bluegrey antelope rug 5×8 – Amazon $263 and rugs are available in multiple sizes.)
This is probably the most important of all. These rooms are so small and for many it’s the first time you have had to share a space with someone. We are so lucky, because today they organize everything. Your room needs to serve as a bedroom, kitchen, den, office and more. Organization is key! There isn’t a lot of space, so you need to utilize every inch. You need to look for systems and products that are easy to get to and easy to maintain. Ceilings are often 8 feet or more so stack it high! (See the great light weight step ladder that folds so you can reach everything.)
(Click on item to shop: Closetmaid Double Hang Closet Rod – Amazon $14, Whitmor 5 Section Hanging Organizer – Amazon $14, Whitmor 4 Section Organizer with Garmet Rod – Amazon $21, Whitmore Hanging Shoe Organizer – Amazon $9, Shower Caddy – Target $8, Vittsio glass Shelf in Black & White – Ikea $49, Comand Removable Heavy Duty Wall Hooks – Amazon $18.)
We think a TV, a great speaker for your playlist and awesome headphones are a must. Girls: choose a TV that isn’t too big; you don’t want to take away space for storage and guys— choose what ever make you happy because all sporting events look better on a bigger TV. Who cares about your shoes? For your music we recommend something tough and water resistant. Keep in mind that everyone will be playing music, so having something that can play on your desk and give out good sound is important. And last, an awesome pair of headphones is crucial! Again, you and your roommate will often be on different schedules so music and Big Gulps (do they even still have those?) will be the the key to all nighters. (Sidebar – it must be obvious to you all by now I liked to do all of my studying the night before – not recommended.)
(Click on item to shop: Canon wireless printer – Amazon $49, Apple wireless Arbuds with charging case – Amazon $144, Power Genius works with Alexa – Amazon $23, Ultimate Ears Boom portable & shockproof bluetooth speaker – Amazon $98, Digital Alarm Clock with port for charging – Amazon $20, Extra Long USB Cables – Amazon’s Choice $15, Keurig Single Serve – Amazon Special $89.)
Whether you decide on re-moveable wall paper or cool art pieces this is an opportunity to brighten up your space and show your personality. My only advice is to place it strategically. Have a gallery wall or cluster pieces. Because the room is small you want the art to complement, not distract. (Check out below the re-moveable hooks and velcro to hang things without damaging the walls.) Wall space is another opportunity to create storage. My dorm had a built-in shelf above our desks and here would have been be a great place to stack a shelving systems for towels, books, snacks, extra supplies – whatever. My dorm looked like we robbed a milk truck we had so many crates up there.
Girls, the removable wallpaper is one for you. Chose an accent wall and go to town. The gold dots are the simple quick way to jazz up the wall and even define a section in the room. The rolls are a bit more of a commitment, but they will totally transform the space. (Click on item to Shop: Gold dots also available in other colors – Amazon $17, Hennaed gold & Black – Anthropologie $88, Chalkboard Rolls – Amazon $31, Gold Peony – Wayfair $49, Novogratz Constellation – Amazon $31
For a gallery wall I love the idea of creating your own! In our Teen Refresh post we showed you step by step directions on how to take photos from a favorite book and create awesome art. Another idea: take squares of fabric that coordinate with your colors and frame them.)
For you I would propose a dry erase wallpaper (could be fun to graffiti it up or a place to collect phone numbers!) I like a vintage feel for art…maybe a cool stadium picture or something that is significant to you – perhaps the town you grew up in, a cool old building, your pet, etc.)
#8 Accessories & Essentials
This is my FAVORITE! Here is where you layer; it will give your room a finished look. This is where you personalize you desk space, add pillows, make your room the space everyone wants to come to. Add things that make you happy. The girl that lived next to me in the dorms worked at a florist and often brought us fresh flowers, which to this day makes me happy! I know that candles are prohibited in dorm rooms, so a great way to add a fresh scent is through defusers. Guys, you know the Febreeze plug ins you can add to your car vent? Grab one and add it to your heat vent.
(Click on item to shop: Geo Down Pillows 22″x 22″ – TJ Maxx $25, Paisley Down Pillow 22″x 22″ – TJ Maxx $20, Amazing Plush Throws – Restoration Hardware $44, Holmes Rotating Fan with Remote – Amazon $38, Light-weight Aluminum Stool – Amazon $49, Easy Clean Personal Humidifier – Amazon $25, Voluspa Amber Diffuser – Anthropologie $24, Mini Steam Iron – Amazon $20, Brita Water Pitcher – Amazon $17, Swell Stainless Steel Water Bottles – Amazon’s Choice $34, Elmer’s Reusable Tac ‘N Stick – Amazon’s Choice $4.)
We are excited for your college experience – study hard and have fun. Send us pictures of how you set up your room and we’ll feature them on our instagram.