In a couple of weeks, the college bound pack up their belongings and head off to what will be their home away from home for the next 9 plus months. Clothing, books, electronics, curriculum are all in order. Often, however, the last to be considered is the interior design of the dorm room.

The dorm room is the space where a student spends a great deal of time. It’s their ‘anchor’, their home base, yet it’s given the least amount of attention, resulting in a dull, drab, and boring room that can be downright depressing. Not the atmosphere we want for our sons or daughters or grandkids.

College was always the opportunity to be fresh and different: new classes, new friends, new ideas, and most importantly for me, designing a new place to live. The place where you start and end your day is makes a tremendous difference in your collegiate experience and performance. Creating your own space to decorate to fit your likes and reflect your personality, to call your own, is important for success at college.

Here’s how to think out of the (dorm room) box:

Begin by selecting a color theme. Many dorm room walls are not allowed to be painted, so your expressions of color will have to be used elsewhere. I found a great company Casart Coverings that offers removable and reusable wall coverings. Check out the link.

Use color! Lots of it! The bed is usually the room’s focal point so find linens - sheets, pillow shams, decorative toss pillows, a throw, and a coverlet in a great pattern. Mix prints, stripes, designs, and add accents with textures or bold, wild colors. Color blocking is another great look that combines different solids in a geometric pattern. A headboard can easily be built out of wood, covered in batting and then a fabric of choice. Simply staple the fabric to the back of the board.

For curtains, you can use the same pattern used for the bed coverlet, or pick a different one with the same colors. I’ve often made curtains out of flat sheets. Curtains can be mounted using extension rods that use a spring system that fits inside almost any window frame so there’s no drilling or nails needed.

Getting out of bed for a 7:00AM class is painful enough without putting your feet down on a cold floor. An area rug or runner makes the experience a bit more pleasant by adding softness underfoot, and brightens a typically drab floor.

Blank walls are depressing. A couple of posters mounted on poster board eliminate the need of frames which is a cleaner look, and makes the space lighter in feel and appearance. They can easily be hung with removable hooks that leave no marks, available at any hardware store. A mirror is a must! It makes the room seem larger and adds sparkle and light. If one can be hung opposite a window, an illusion of an additional source of light is created.

For the study area, desks are generally supplied by the dorm; some are built in with bookshelves above. Brighten up the area with colorful chair cushions, desk pads, and accessories. Bookshelves are not just for books. Add a few decorations like a vase with silk flowers, the college mascot, or a beloved personal collection brought from home. Make certain your student’s chair is comfortable. If not, he/she will not be spending much time in it. If that’s the case, replace it with an ergonomic chair, store the school’s property someplace safe, and return it at the end of the year. Another essential for the study area is excellent task lighting. I like the desk lamp with adjustable arm and rotating head in a crisp metallic finish.

There’s never enough storage, so add an ottoman to use as seating for visitors and extra storage. Closets also never provide enough storage, so get an organizer. There are some excellent retailers that sell everything from basic school supplies to furniture for easy one stop shopping.

Learn to think out of the box when it comes to decorating a space whether your youngster is going off to college or their room at home needs refreshing. An attractive space will make them happy to spend more time studying (hopefully), and a pleasant atmosphere for inviting in friends (study group?).

These suggestions are easy and inexpensive ways to individualize a dorm room or any room in your home. Remember to SHARE THEM WITH FRIENDS!

Any questions? I'd be happy to discuss your needs. No project is too small. Post a comment or ask a question, email:


  1. your design seance so did good job in decoration and use of curtains so rear.....!!
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  2. Your ideas for designing are very impressive and I want to appreciative your designing work and for sharing these marvellous work on the blog over here.

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  3. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
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