Dorm Decorating Part 1 {Bedding Basics}

Decorating a dorm or off-campus apartment is exciting but it can also be challenging — especially for first year students.  So, I’ve decided to write a 3-part series of posts dedicated to dorm decor!  If you’re a college shopper {or you know someone who is}, read on and check back for colorful ideas and useful tips on how to personalize your home-away-from-home.

Keep in mind that when you arrive on campus, your dorm will probably look something like this:

…so believe me when I say that color is going to be your best friend!  That’s why this first post focuses on your bed.  Bedding is the easiest way to bring color into a dorm.  Your choice of bedding will also make a big statement about your personal style, and that can be inspiration for decorating the rest of the room — or least your side of the room.  Check out these colorful bedding ideas, done by students:




Today’s college students want chic spaces and many stores are answering the call.  Pottery Barn has introduced, which provides easy, one-stop shopping for bedding and other dorm essentials. offers unique bedding sets that look custom-made but don’t have the custom price tag.


{Love this for the guys –  Rugby duvet at}

{We’ll Always Have Paris bedding by}

Your bedding is the best way to set the tone for your room’s color scheme.  And of course, you can find other great styles from the larger, familiar stores.  I’m so glad to see many colorful options this year!  Here are a couple that I like:

{Malibu Surfer set from}

{Leah reversible comforters from}

Before you buy your comforter, quilt, duvet and/or linens, be sure to confirm the size of your bed.  Many colleges now use Twin XL beds, which are 5 inches longer than a standard twin bed, so you may need to purchase Twin XL blankets and sheets.  Here are some other tips:

  • Contact Your Roommate:  If you have a roommate, get in touch with her as soon as possible.  Many colleges will provide the name and contact information for your roomie.  Then you can have a phone conversation, Skype or message each other on Facebook to discuss decorating your dorm.  Send each other links of bedding that you like and make a decision before you report to campus.  You’ll be ahead of the game.
  • Bring A Mattress Protector:  The mattress on your bed will not be very thick or provide much support.  It will also be hard.  So unless that’s OK with you, be sure to buy a mattress protector for added comfort.  Also, because college mattresses are used by different students from year to year, you’ll want to have added protection, especially if you have allergies.  The Allergy Luxe mattress protector is a good one.
  • Layer Your Bedding:  You want your bed to keep you cool in warm weather and keep you warm when it’s cold outside, so you’ll need options.  Starting from the bottom, layer your bed with sheets, a thin blanket or quilt, and a heavy comforter on top.  Then you can use as much or as little covering as you need.

And another thing:  If you discover that your bed doesn’t have a headboard or you wish it were bigger, don’t worry!  You can create one with a vinyl wall decal like this purple tufted headboard sticker from

{NOTE:  wall decals work best on flat wall surfaces}

Or, if you’re an ambitious DIYer and you’d rather construct a headboard {and show-off a little}, here is a really neat idea from

As part of a dorm makeover, Kara cut and stained a piece of luan board to create a headboard.  The graphic design is actually blue painter’s tape that was spray painted gold.

Isn’t this room fabulous?  Hard to believe it’s a dorm!  The neutral palette is rich and warm but if you crave color, you can paint the painter’s tape any color you want and repeat the color in your accessories.  Here are two ideas that I came up with:

TIP:  Instead of painting painter’s tape for the headboard, you can save time by using decorative Duck Tape, which now comes in really fun colors and patterns:

Speaking of tape, using it is an easy way to decorate your dorm walls and other furniture pieces, among other things.  That and more in Part 2 of my Dorm Decorating Series!

4 thoughts on “Dorm Decorating Part 1 {Bedding Basics}

  1. I love the color combination of all the photos… specially the combination of green and black.. I never thought those colors are perfect! Thanks for giving this brilliant idea!

  2. Great post Kelly…especially since I have one heading off to college in September. Just wish there were more options for boys…so many great looks for girl decor! I am sure we will come up with some ways to make his dorm room fun and funcional and most importantly…stylish!

  3. Hi Kelly: Very nice post! But, I have to say, thank goodness I am well beyond the dorm stage…My daughter’s rooms never seemed quite as spacious as you’ve shown! But yes, I agree that color is the key (and it helps to have a roommate with similar taste). Look forward to seeing what you do with tape!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>