Taking Your Dorm Room From Drab to Fab

*********Originally posted on July 12, 2012************

It can be a proud but scary moment when you leave the comforts of your parents’ home – most likely the only home you’ve known all your life, and go off to college. You finally have that independence that you’ve been craving for so long…..until you see your new accommodations for the first time.
A cold sterile room with two beds, boring furniture, plain walls and cold floors will probably come as a shock. Adjusting to new surroundings and challenging class schedules will be hard enough, so here are a few tips to get you started on making your dorm room a warm, cozy and inviting space where you’ll want to hang out and get your learning on.

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Parents take note. Making a small investment in helping your freshman create a beautiful, functional amd livable space, may be the best thing you can do to help them adjust to life away from home.

  • If you are lucky enough to be in a dorm where it’s ok to paint the walls, then go for it! Avoid usig the school colors – that’s cliche. Go for a cool neutral to give a more airy and fresh feel. Cool colors tend to make a small room look bigger unlike warm colors that advance in a space. If painting is not an option, go with the color scheme already defined for you and take it to the next level with your bedding and accessories. You may also consider using removable wallpaper or wall decals for a unique look. Deco Mates sells peel and stick wallpaper and wall decals inexpensively.
  • Use modular furniture instead of fixed pieces. Modular furniture are designed to be moved around and used in various configurations, so you are not locked in to any one layout. Always keep scale in mind when purchasing furniture. Most likely you will not have room for a sofa, but a small chair may be ideal to give you additional seating
  • Build a loft to basically double your space. Adding a sleeping loft using inexpensive materials like plywood, frees up floor space that you can use for a desk area or seating area. You may want to call a professional in for this one, because it has to be fully secured to the walls
  • Lighting will be your best friend in a small dorm room. Most don’t come with an over head fixture, and even if they do, they are not the best looking. You can pick up an inexpensive chandelier and replace the ceiling fixture or buy a plug-in pendant and ’swag’ the cord into the wall. Attach the chain or wire to a hook in the ceiling, swag it into a corner and use the outlet. This overhead lighting will make the space a lot more inviting and add more task lighting for study time.
  • Plastic crates are a staple item in dorm rooms when it comes to storage, but not the most attractive. Cube ottomans look better and can be just as spacious. They look more like furniture than storage space, but serve as a good place to hold video games, books and other smaller items. Great idea for functional storage
  • Say goodbye to cold floors. There are wonderful products available that are inexpensive and will add warmth to the floors. Flor is an innovative system of carpet squares that you assemble to create area rugs or wall to wall designs of any size. . Allure Stainmaster Vinyl Flooring is a thin laminate that adheres to itself, rather than the floor. That makes it easy to put down. It’s about $25 a box, and an average dorm space might use about five-and-half boxes. All you need is a blade knife to cut the ends to size and then snap each flat vinyl piece to the others.
  • Decorate with pictures of your family and friends. For one, it helps to have your family around you even if they are just photographs. If you have a free wall, why not create a collage or a salon style design with framed pictures in various sizes or take your favorite picture and have it blown up to larger than poster size. It makes a bigger statement than just taping pictures to wall.
  • Don’t skimp on your bedding. You’ll have to sleep under it every night, so make sure it’s something that feels good to you. Choosing a solid pattern will give you more decorating options than bedding with bold patterns.
  •  Use throw pillows to accent your room and provide comfort, as well. Plus, you can get quality ones without spending a great deal of money
  • Outfit your closet with items that will make life easier, like plastic hooks for hanging towels and shoe organizers that hang on the back of the door.

So if your freshman is off to college in the Fall, why not provide him/her with some of the comforts of home.

Did you love in dorm during college? What was your dorm room like? Please share
Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday!
Be Inspired!

82 Comments on Taking Your Dorm Room From Drab to Fab

  1. Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious?
    June 11, 2014 at 2:20 am (2 years ago)

    Those are some amazing dorm rooms. We were so limited with ours and the arrangement of the furniture! But, we did get a rug for the freezing cold tile floor!

    Reply
  2. Dina Demarest (@dinade)
    June 11, 2014 at 2:29 am (2 years ago)

    Wow those are awesome rooms. I’d love that for my bedroom. I need you to help decorate my house. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
  3. Loretta
    June 11, 2014 at 2:49 am (2 years ago)

    Such wonderful ideas! My daughter’s first room was drab, so my husband and I purchased a few pretty but functional items so she would feel more at home when she became homesick. It really does help!

    Reply
  4. gaynycdad
    June 11, 2014 at 3:35 am (2 years ago)

    Another gorgeous dorm room! Maybe I will save these ideas for when my son goes off to school. thanks,
    mItch

    Reply
  5. Jennifer Williams
    June 11, 2014 at 5:15 am (2 years ago)

    I never realized you could do so much with a dorm room. I kind of assumed it was like staying in a blah hotel room. It would be nice if we could decorate it for our kids so it was a little more homey.

    Reply
  6. Kay Adeola
    June 11, 2014 at 7:59 am (2 years ago)

    These are great tips.Not only can they be used for dorm rooms but also if your kids are staying at home rather than away this can be done at home.

    Reply
  7. Rosey
    June 11, 2014 at 8:52 am (2 years ago)

    What a great idea to get some pretty overhead lighting in there. It’s practical too because you want good lighting when you study!

    Reply
  8. Debbie L.
    June 11, 2014 at 9:28 am (2 years ago)

    Great ideas for making dorm rooms special. It is such a exciting time for kids to go away to college…they need a special place.

    Reply
  9. Robin (Masshole Mommy)
    June 11, 2014 at 9:30 am (2 years ago)

    Those are totally dorms I would want to hang out in. My dorm back in the day was so plain & boring. There is such cute stuff out these days.

    Reply
  10. Susanna Barbee (@susannabarbee)
    June 11, 2014 at 10:10 am (2 years ago)

    First off, those are the cutest dorm rooms I have ever seen in my life. My dorm room definitely did NOT look like that. Also, these are some really helpful tips to make a dorm room more homey and comfy.

    Reply
  11. Virginia Higgins (@thatbaldchick)
    June 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm (2 years ago)

    Those are super cute dorm rooms, and nothing at all like the one I lived in. My dorm was bare bones to say the least.

    Reply
  12. john baker
    June 11, 2014 at 1:52 pm (2 years ago)

    if I was in a dorm I would hire you… great ideas everyday

    Reply
  13. Debbie Denny
    June 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow these are beautiful rooms. I love them all.

    Reply
  14. Shelley VanWitzenburg
    June 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm (2 years ago)

    I love this! This is something I was never taught and as a result never really put any effort into “nesting” where I live because I know it’s just temporary. But, I’ve learned that I sacrificed a lot of happiness because of that! I wasted a lot of time in limbo when I could have done little things to make that time happy.

    Reply
    • casavilorainteriors
      June 13, 2014 at 7:43 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks for sharing Shelley. Most people don’t realize the importance of a beautiful and functional interior environment. It does a lot for your well-being and happiness when your home comfortable, beautiful and functional. Less stress and it definitely enhances your life. I am on a mission to prove that Interior Design is not a luxury, but something everyone deserves (Oooo, I see a blog post coming) :-)

      Reply
  15. kristentoneycampbell
    June 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh, how fun! Yes! I lived in a dorm room in college! It was totally girly. All pink and green and yellow and purple. With big flower rugs on the floors :)

    Reply
  16. Brandy
    June 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm (2 years ago)

    You always have such lovely ideas, no more cold floors would be great for my oldest. Her bedroom floor is always cold! Love the decor and colors!

    Reply
  17. Betsy Mitchell
    June 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm (2 years ago)

    Love these tips and idea! I wish I would known these when I was in college!

    Reply
  18. Helene Bludman
    June 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm (2 years ago)

    These are fabulous ideas. My daughter would have loved to try some of these in her dorm room.

    Reply
  19. Meranda
    June 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm (2 years ago)

    I loved these tips! I wish I knew about Deco Mates back when I rented. I have lots of friends who also rent… Your article was fantastic!

    Reply
  20. Liz Mays
    June 11, 2014 at 5:25 pm (2 years ago)

    My kids lofted their beds over their desks and that did make a huge difference in space. The carpeting makes it a heck of a lot more cozy too.

    Reply
  21. Celebdirtylaundry
    June 11, 2014 at 8:14 pm (2 years ago)

    These were really great tips, wish I had these when my daughter was a freshman.

    Reply
  22. Alexandra McAllister (@alexandrawow101)
    June 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm (2 years ago)

    WOW! These are all gorgeous dorm rooms! In fact, they’d also be great at home, in a small space! Thanks for sharing all these tips and pics! Fabulous!

    Reply
  23. Meryl Hershey Beck
    June 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm (2 years ago)

    What amazing dorm rooms. I can’t imagine any college bound student not loving these. Such small spaces that are incredibly transformed into cozy, fabulous spaces! Beautiful!

    Reply
  24. Beth@FrugalFroggie
    June 11, 2014 at 8:26 pm (2 years ago)

    Would have loved those dorm rooms any day. My dorm room was cinder blocks. Just short of a jail cell. Ha!

    Reply
  25. beverleygolden
    June 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm (2 years ago)

    What amazing looks you’ve featured for dorm rooms in this post, Veronica. When I think of dorm rooms from my experiences, they are kind of neutral and crowded, without much thought into making them “home”. This should encourage all those freshman about to move into a dorm to look at their living space a little bit differently!

    Reply
    • casavilorainteriors
      June 13, 2014 at 7:44 pm (2 years ago)

      That’s right Beverley. It can only improve their college experience

      Reply
  26. Danielle @ We Have It All
    June 11, 2014 at 9:59 pm (2 years ago)

    Now that is cool! I always look at dorm room designs because two of my teen girls share a room so that’s the best way to decorate.

    Reply
  27. Laurel Bill
    June 11, 2014 at 10:13 pm (2 years ago)

    These are all great ideas – thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  28. Lady Lilith
    June 11, 2014 at 10:23 pm (2 years ago)

    I love how a little bit of texture or splash of color can really change the look and feel or a room.

    Reply
  29. Kungphoo
    June 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow, these are some awesome dorm rooms! Too bad I don’t dorm because I would totally take all of this into consideration. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    Reply
  30. jenniferclay795
    June 11, 2014 at 10:49 pm (2 years ago)

    I think these ideas can be used for any room. I don’t have a dorm room or know anybody that does but these are some very cute ideas! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  31. Dov Shapira
    June 11, 2014 at 10:50 pm (2 years ago)

    Great article, you have such an eye for interior design.
    I love the dorm rooms pictures

    Reply
  32. becca112971
    June 12, 2014 at 12:09 am (2 years ago)

    Cool dorm room looks and would most likely work for a small room at home should your child choose to commute.

    Reply
  33. Jenn @ The Rebel Chick
    June 12, 2014 at 12:30 am (2 years ago)

    When I was in college we were very limited in what modifications we were allowed to do. We all decorated with blankets, rugs and pillows.

    Reply
  34. Theresa
    June 12, 2014 at 1:08 am (2 years ago)

    We will be decorating a dorm room in 3 short years. Yikes! I think my daughter will go for soothing colors that will help her relax so she can study well.

    Reply
  35. Uplifting Families
    June 12, 2014 at 1:27 am (2 years ago)

    You shared some great ways to utilize the most out of a tiny space. These tips are even perfect for a tiny room in a house. I am not looking forward to doing this with my daughter, hopefully, she will go to school close to home.

    Reply
  36. Trisha
    June 12, 2014 at 1:30 am (2 years ago)

    Dorm rooms are usually all gray and really cold, aren’t they? Adding color and function and storage are the first things any kid should be doing.

    Reply
  37. Krystal's Kitsch
    June 12, 2014 at 1:31 am (2 years ago)

    Those dorms are AMAZING. Mine was bare bones – we didn’t even hang anything on the wall!

    Reply
  38. maria
    June 12, 2014 at 1:50 am (2 years ago)

    I have a small kitchen. I always say we have a Sam’s Club family with a mini mart kitchen. Great tips!

    Reply
  39. Brett
    June 12, 2014 at 1:50 am (2 years ago)

    Sending this to my sister in law. Her oldest leaves for college in early August!!

    Reply
  40. Chasing Joy
    June 12, 2014 at 2:42 am (2 years ago)

    I remember those good old days in college. Decorating the dorm was fun. We were never as good at it as the pictures here though :-)

    Reply
  41. Pauline Cabrera
    June 12, 2014 at 2:45 am (2 years ago)

    I love the photo with a study table with the bed on top of it! This is a great way to maximize space and still have the ability to make it look nice and cozy. There are just so many things that a fresh college student to adjust with and the dorm is sure one of those things.

    Reply
  42. Jim Striegel
    June 12, 2014 at 2:56 am (2 years ago)

    Perfect time to post these amazing ideas!!!

    Reply
  43. Marjory Johnson
    June 12, 2014 at 3:19 am (2 years ago)

    I love this! My daughter will be heading off and I can’t wait to show her these amazing ideas.

    Reply
  44. Nate
    June 12, 2014 at 3:22 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Veronica –

    I like the idea of getting overhead lighting. It’s useful because you can really get some work done when you have awesome lighting!

    Reply
  45. Imelda Guanzon
    June 12, 2014 at 5:40 am (2 years ago)

    If only I could get back my college. I would love to try some of this designs. lovely

    Reply
  46. Tom Holmberg
    June 12, 2014 at 6:16 am (2 years ago)

    These are great ideas for improving a drab dorm room. Seems like many years ago now

    Reply
  47. Christie
    June 12, 2014 at 10:23 am (2 years ago)

    Wish your were around when I was in college! I love these ideas!

    Reply
  48. Rachael
    June 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm (2 years ago)

    These rooms are so bright and cherry. I love your style.

    Reply
  49. Amanda
    June 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm (2 years ago)

    Those are amazing dorm rooms! Not sure i’ve ever seen a dorm room look that amazing in real life tho! I’m so glad I didn’t have to live in the dorms at college!

    Reply
  50. Danielle Stewart
    June 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm (2 years ago)

    Those look like some great dorm rooms. I am assuming those students had some really nice parents…lol. I never lived on campus now I am in college but I own a house but I love your site for different ideas.

    Reply
  51. ecavalla
    June 12, 2014 at 3:49 pm (2 years ago)

    What beautiful dorm rooms! Mine was divided right down the middle with my decorations on one and my roommate on the other!

    Reply
  52. StacieinAtlanta
    June 12, 2014 at 4:55 pm (2 years ago)

    Those are some great looking dorm rooms! Sadly, I remember mine as a disaster area.

    Reply
  53. JoCasey
    June 12, 2014 at 6:12 pm (2 years ago)

    Great ideas – perfect timing too as I’m sure lots of soon to be college kids will be facing this right now.

    Reply
  54. Family Travel Blogger
    June 12, 2014 at 6:44 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow, my dorm room deffinitely didnt look like that in college! Those are lovely.

    Reply
  55. Melinda@LookWhatMomFound...andDadtoo
    June 12, 2014 at 7:05 pm (2 years ago)

    my daughter’s dorm room isn’t goign to look anything like that. as long as it’s clean and comfortable than that’s ok

    Reply
  56. Cam | Bibs and Baubles
    June 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm (2 years ago)

    After seeing these pictures, I don’t want to think about my dorm room. It wasn’t anything like this. Everything was super neutral and from the 50’s! LOL!

    Reply
  57. Carly from The Puzzled Palate
    June 12, 2014 at 8:04 pm (2 years ago)

    First off, where do these kids get these HUGE dorm rooms? My dorm looked like a crazy person decorated it!

    Reply
  58. Amanda Ripsam
    June 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm (2 years ago)

    these ideas would also work for an apartment cause you can’t do a lot in a two bedroom apartment

    Reply
  59. April Decheine
    June 12, 2014 at 11:46 pm (2 years ago)

    Love all the colors. My daughter had her dorm room so decked out. We shopped for weeks only to have her call after a few days wanting to come home hating dorm life. She drove to and from her freshman year instead of dorm life.

    Reply
  60. Marni | Love and Duck Fat
    June 13, 2014 at 1:05 am (2 years ago)

    Those a some pretty awesome dorm rooms. I wish mine could have been that nice!

    Reply
  61. Amanda
    June 13, 2014 at 2:17 am (2 years ago)

    My dorm room was awful thanks to my roommate. My niece is leaving for college and I know she will be heading to Pottery Barn to decorate!

    Reply
  62. toughcookiemommy
    June 13, 2014 at 2:49 am (2 years ago)

    I think it is important for college students to be able to transform their dorm room into a comfortable space since they will be spending a lot of time there. These looks are very warm and inviting.

    Reply
  63. Emily Knight (@OurKnightLife)
    June 13, 2014 at 2:50 am (2 years ago)

    I would never have thought to put in floors in my dorm room!! I bet that would help with cleaning in addition to cool temps!

    Reply
  64. Aisha Kristine Chong
    June 13, 2014 at 3:34 am (2 years ago)

    I wouldnt even think those are dorm rooms – too fabulous!

    Reply
  65. melisasource
    June 13, 2014 at 3:50 am (2 years ago)

    All of these options and designs are so very pretty! I’m going to pass this along to my college daughter!

    Reply
  66. amandamcmahon299783648
    June 13, 2014 at 5:15 am (2 years ago)

    I don’t think at 18 I cared too much about my decor… it was mostly photos taped to the walls. I also think we had designated furniture, so other than if someone built a loft, they were stuck with the furniture provided.

    Reply
  67. Mommy2Jam
    June 13, 2014 at 10:58 am (2 years ago)

    I really liked all the ideas you provided. I love how a simple thing with color and furniture can transform a room.

    Reply
  68. Toni
    June 13, 2014 at 2:27 pm (2 years ago)

    I need to use these tips in my daughters room. I swear her room is smaller than a dorm

    Reply
  69. Six Feetunderblog
    June 13, 2014 at 5:23 pm (2 years ago)

    I will take these tips to good use. We have small rooms!

    Reply
  70. Don Purdum
    June 13, 2014 at 6:36 pm (2 years ago)

    Great advice. I love the loft bed!!! Clean, organized, and space conscious. My son has one and loves it!

    Reply
  71. Gina Stroud Binder
    June 16, 2014 at 12:27 am (2 years ago)

    These are great ideas, Veronica! Removable wallpaper is new to me. Anything to help a freshman feel at home is worth it.

    Reply
  72. A. Lynn Jesusa
    June 16, 2014 at 1:51 am (2 years ago)

    These are great ideas. I remember seeing a loft when I was in college. I thought it was brilliant! And it is always nice to make a space yours by giving it a unique touch. Then you are creating a nice sanctuary. And often times a sanctuary is needed amidst all the work and study of college. Great post!

    Reply
  73. Martha Giffen
    June 16, 2014 at 2:22 am (2 years ago)

    What awesome dorm rooms! Your ideas are so good! And, -have dorm rooms changed since I was in college! These are gorgeous!

    Reply
  74. Christina S
    June 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm (2 years ago)

    These look great, but from what I remember, there were very few options of how we could actually move things around. Nice to dream though.

    Reply
  75. Sharon O'Day (@sharonoday)
    June 16, 2014 at 1:46 pm (2 years ago)

    I remember how quickly we looked for ways to make our dorm rooms feel like “home.” (And it was really interesting to see what people did.) Of course, the rooms with the best decoration were strangely the ones we all congregated in …

    Reply
  76. rozbeads
    June 16, 2014 at 1:54 pm (2 years ago)

    I didn’t live in a dorm but even when my kids went to college they did not have these options. The store that provided the most ideas was Bed Bath & Beyond and so blankets, sheets and desk items were it. Your ideas are great and hopefully will be seen by many.

    Reply

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