Dorm Design 101


Dorm decor has certainly come a long way since I was in school.  I remember hauling identical blue bedspreads with me to Howard University as a freshman so that my roommate and I would have matching beds.  We taped pictures from fashion magazines on the walls, covered our bookcases with contact paper, and that was considered pretty impressive back then.


These days, dorm decor is at a whole new level.  Colorful college-living essentials are widely available at affordable prices — allowing campus-bound students to add instant style and warmth to an otherwise uninspired dorm room.




Color is definitely your best weapon when attacking a cell-like dorm room.  Lay the groundwork with an amazing area rug and create your color scheme from there.  A rug will also provide coziness and warmth underfoot on cold winter mornings.


Look for colorful bedding and coordinating throw pillows.  A great looking bed alone will make a dorm room more attractive.

{cool kids rooms}


Unless you are residing in off-campus housing, you probably won’t be able to paint.  However, there are plenty of other imaginative ways to add color and interest to the walls.


Who knew you could use Post-Its for something other than study notes or marking pages??  These popular paper squares can also be used to create wallpaper, as shown in the dorm room above.

{younghouselove via}

An arrangement of photos and greeting cards is also a nice colorful and personal touch.


Also, check out more, new ideas at The Ultimate Dorm Decorating Guide!

9 thoughts on “Dorm Design 101

  1. Great ideas! I have seen a lot of comments on many blogs about how in the past, parents weren’t spending so much money on dorm decorations. For me, I have a beautiful purple comforter that was on my bed at home. Though it is made for a full/queen bed, I still was able to use it on the twin and full beds here at college. I used bed risers ($3) which keeps it from touching the floor. I guess my point is that not all nicely decorated rooms are expensive or needed for parents to purchase.

  2. hey kelly,
    i just moved in to my new room in college. i know that i want a bring pink room but i have no idea what to do. will you please give me some advices or ideas

  3. The picture with the four white shelves and white desk with two chairs should be credited to an amazing couple with a blog called” young house love” ! Love all the decor ideas!

  4. I did fabric panels on my walls to give it color when I was at Howard! Ahhh…memories. My little cousin is a freshman at HU and her room is full of color with purple, pink and teal. Love it!

  5. Great ideas! I just read an article on dorm room decorating…and how some designers are even being hired to decorate for some clients’ kids that are headed off to school. Could be fun work!
    These are some great ideas. I sure would have done things differently, if all these products were available when I living on campus. I just remember how hard it was to find X-Long twin sheets! And Target was JUST getting going (ok – aging myself now.) We also had concrete walls at UCSD – not great when you want to hang stuff. I initiated an art installation made of torn out magazine photos. My three roommates and I had it covered by the end of the year!

  6. Hi Kelly: I just recommended some black board paint for my daughter’s friend who is just starting Columbia. I thought the entire wall behind his desk should be covered in it. He loves to doodle and write quotes, so I think his layer on top would be fun. I’ve jumped into the gray scale discussion, so come by and tell us what you think.

  7. Hey Kelly,
    This was a fun post. Like you, we were doing good to have matching bedspreads when I was in college! Parents sure weren’t spending their money there in my day! I think the take-away here is how color can change the world!! Great job showcasing these fun spaces.

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