Dorm Room Design To Look More Like Home

Your dorm room is not your beloved bedroom from home. The room is small, as in usually 12X16 feet small, and you’ll be sharing it with a stranger. It usually consists of bland walls and boring oak furniture. You and your roomie will each get a bed, a desk and chair, a dresser and a closet. Here are the tips on dorm room design to look more like home.

dorm room design

First, let’s talk about that dorm mattress. It is likely old and uncomfortable. If it could talk it would ramble on and on with plenty of stories of love and heartbreak and I wouldn’t recommend shining a black light on it unless you’re ready to throw up in your mouth a little.

What can you do for a better night sleep? Get thee a new mattress delivered to campus. Contact the school and make a case for supplying your own new mattress. If you plan to live in Greek housing or off-campus housing then you’ll be supplying more of your own furniture and the bed is a cinch. Several retailers offer the convenience of delivery to campus for all your needs besides your clothes of course. Tulo offers supremely comfortable mattresses in three choices of soft, medium and firm and when it comes to fitting into college requirements they have twin XL which is the standard bed frame size.  It’s delivered to campus in a box so you don’t have to figure out how to transport from home.

dorm room design
Bed, Bath and Beyond

So you’ve got the fresh new mattress, now what? Time to take that small room and make it livable for the next nine months.  Here’s what you need to know, what to bring and some decorating tips.

You can’t bring all your clothes so edit, edit, edit. The space you get in your dorm room is likely vastly smaller than the space you have at home so pare down and pack only what you’ll need based on the climate you’ll be living in for the school year. Choose slim, durable hangers to fit more into that tiny space and opt for a collapsible hamper for trips back and forth to the laundry room.

Eating and Drinking

You’ll probably be on a meal plan, but you definitely want some options in your room so a mini-fridge is a must. Some colleges rent them but buying one from a big box store is usually less expensive. Add a tea kettle or a small microwave to heat up all that ramen you’re likely to consume and a mini Keurig comes in handy when you need a caffeine boost at 7am, 3pm or even 1am. I can’t imagine how I made it through freshman year without a toaster oven to make simple grilled cheese sandwiches and reheat pizza but check the list of approved items before bringing one.

Dorm Room Design

There are several things you can do to transform your cookie-cutter dorm room into a stylish space.

dorm rom decor

Bedding is the easiest way to add some personal style to a plain room from bright colors to light neutrals. Call your new roomie before you get to college and if you feel the instant friend vibe suggest you match bedding or choose similar color palettes so the room has a cohesive look. Chatting with your roomie ahead of time also means you don’t double up on the same items and get stuck with determining what stays and what goes.

You can’t paint your room, but for some dorm room design use peel and stick wallpaper or washi tape to take blah to beautiful whether you cover a wall or your desk drawers. A wall tapestry can give your room an instant boho vibe and cover more of that boring beige color that comes with most rooms.

peel and stick wallpaper
dorm room design

Don’t ignore the floor with its basic industrial carpeting as an opportunity to add some color. You won’t have a lot of space, but you can at least spice up your side of the room with a rug runner or small area rug to bring in some warmth and texture.

Sheer curtains hung with a tension rod for easy removal are a way to add décor without losing natural light.

dorm room design

If you’re a social butterfly and plan to have frequent friends come by for a visit you’ll want to be smart with your extra seating. Consider a cushioned foldable chair, a colorful pouf or a collapsible square ottoman that is both storage and seating so it doesn’t take up a lot of space. If you get riser for your bed frame you

I’m a bit of a pillow fiend so the more the merrier, but again we’re paring down for a small space so keep it to two bed pillows plus a decorative one.  Choose a decorative pillow in a color or print that compliments your bedding and since it’s firmer than your sleep pillow it can add additional back support when your studying or watching Netflix in bed.

dorm romo design
Bed, Bath and Beyond


Overhead lighting is not the answer to all your needs plus what happens if you’re still studying and your roommate wants to sleep? You’ll want a desk lamp that doesn’t take up a lot of space, yet is still stylish.

Another dorm room design idea is to add one or two strands of string lights along a wall or corner nook. It’s festive and cozy and a pretty way to highlight any photos and artwork you hang. There are even clothespins LED string lights.


Space is at a premium so you’ll need plenty of smart storage plans. Your bed can be a place for plenty of storage solutions. Take advantage of bedside storage pockets to hold your laptop, iPad and glasses to under bed storage that can hold your winter coat and boots until the temperatures drop. Get even more space with stackable bins and under bed compartments. Take advantage of getting up to eight more inches of space with bed risers that can lift up your bed and safely hold more than 300 pounds. Look for the  ones that have outlets and a USB port.

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Style Expert Alison Deyette is a TV + digital host and lifestyle expert. Named one of the top stylists in Los Angeles by Variety, WWD, Angeleno and Modern Luxury magazines Alison has helped kick-start the new look of hundreds of women and men and worked with people of all sizes and shapes. As a fashion & beauty director, Alison has styled and directed photo shoots all over the world with models, celebrities and real women for a variety of magazines, including: ModeGood HousekeepingPeople Style Watch, Woman’s Day, Ocean Drive, Real Beauty and Fitness.  And she’s styled Oprah’s Weight Watchers commercials. She appears regularly on Good Morning America, TODAYAccess Hollywood, Access Hollywood Live, Wendy Williams, The RealThe ViewSteve Harvey and is the Style Expert for KTLA’s Morning News. She is a contributing fashion editor for Real SimpleLife & StyleIn Touch and Closer Weekly.  She was the host of Pocket the Difference, a co-host of TLC’s 10 Years Younger and TBS’ Movie and a Makeover and the weekly Style Contributor on Hallmark Channel’s Marie. She’s conducted countless celebrity interviews including Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Scarlett Johansson and Salma Hayek for TV and in print.

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