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8 Dorm Decor Lessons They Don’t Teach in College

By: Sarah Beaumont

August 8, 2016

Let’s face it — no one’s dream room is a dorm. But sharing cramped living quarters with a pair of twin beds and a roommate you barely know is as essential a college experience as pulling an all-nighter. Despite the unglamorous nature of a dorm, there are simple ways to enhance its style and functionality on a student-friendly budget. Make your on-campus digs the envy of your whole floor by following these helpful tips. And when your space is complete, we guarantee that if “Dorm Room Decor 101” were a college course, you’d ace it.

1. Seek out storage in unlikely spaces.

Cramped quarters don’t have to cramp your style. Finding space to store your stuff just requires a little creativity. Our motto? Build up! Raise your bed off the ground, and put a set of drawers underneath to free-up floor space. Stack your microwave on top of your mini fridge or television on top of a storage container. Look at every nook and cranny—desk drawers, closet floors, corners between furniture—as an opportunity to conceal unsightly objects.

2. Stock up on organization essentials. 

via PBTeen / Laurel & Wolf

via PBDorm / Laurel & Wolf

Organization is everything when it comes to successful dorm living. For a smooth semester, make sure to get dorm room essentials as soon as you move in. A hamper, big storage bins, a shoe rack, a trash can, desk organizers, a set of pull out drawers, and a tote for toiletries are just a few things that will help keep your space looking neat and orderly all year long.

3. Rearrange the furniture.

Dorm room layouts are rarely an example of efficient space planning. By taking matters into your own hands, you can make your room feel much more sizable and unique. We recommend moving the beds into an L shape with one bordering a window and one bordering a wall. Or go vertical by lofting a bed with space underneath for a desk or lounge setup.

4. Cover the walls.


Not a fan of your dorm’s cinderblock walls? Cover them up! Large colorful tapestries or even printed cloth shower curtains feel like wallpaper when hung properly on the wall. They’ll provide serious impact for a small investment. Add layers and visual interest by placing art  or photos of family and friends on top of it.

5. Textiles are your friends.


College is a time to experiment and find your voice. So we’d suggest getting wild by playing with mixing and matching prints in your pillows, duvet and throws. Cover up an unattractive carpet with a fun area rug. If you like having friends over, use poufs or floor cushions for extra seating and added color. It’s incredible what a few additional textures and textiles can do to make a space feel like home.

6. Bring nature indoors.

via A Bubbly Life / Laurel & Wolf

via A Bubbly Life / Laurel & Wolf

Dorm rooms tend to err on the side of sterile, but plants can breathe new life into your space. Go vertical with a hanging planter—succulents are great because they require little care—or make your room feel as lively as a jungle with a large potted tree.

7. Display art without causing wall damage.

Most dorms don’t allow you to put nails in the wall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hang art. Dress up your posters or magazine cut-outs by creating frames with tape. If you must hang things, opt for command hooks. We love the look of these colorful clipboards filled with inspirational images.

8. Improve the ambiance with mood lighting.

via Laurel & Wolf / Home Heart Craft

via Laurel & Wolf / Home Heart Craft

Harsh lighting can make even the prettiest rooms look rough. Change the entire mood of your space with softer lighting. Put a new spin on twinkle lights with a custom marquee sign or create a party in your room with a fun neon piece, like the pink flamingo on the left.

9. Create an optimal space for studying and relaxation.

Most dorms give you the option of having a loft bed — we recommend going for it. A raised bed will clear up floor space, making your room feel much bigger. Move your desk or comfy cushions and blankets underneath to create a cozy study nook. Come Finals Week when everyone’s in the library, you’ll truly appreciate your quiet little nook.


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