When it comes to dorm rooms, you have to work with what you've got. The standard issue oak bed, dresser, desk and chair provided by college and university housing across the nation don't exactly scream "STYLE", but there are some simple ways you can upgrade your dorm room and make it feel more like home without spending an arm and a leg.
If all you do is add these 5 things, your dorm room will be cooler than 99% of your classmates' digs. You may not reach "coolest dorm room ever" status. That's reserved for the guys in 313 that somehow managed to cram a Salvation Army couch into the elevator because they didn't want to carry it up 3 flights of steps... But if neon beer signs aren't exactly your style, these 5 decor items will elevate your dorm into a perfectly stylish and respectable home for the next year.
1. Area Rug
As an interior designer, I'm always touting the benefit of area rugs. They add so much style, warmth and comfort to a space. Dorm rooms are generally sterile, boring, white boxes with bad carpet and poor lighting. Nothing will transform your space more than a properly sized area rug. Depending on the way you arrange your furniture, a 5'x8', 6'x9' or 8'x 10' will do. What you don't want is a little postage stamp in the middle of your floor. A rug that's too small (3'x5' or 4'x 6') will make a small space look even smaller. It's totally fine and actually preferable if your furniture legs overlap the rug a little bit.
Hopefully your dorm room has at least one small window. If not, I'M SO SORRY! Make the most of the natural light you've got by accenting the window with floor length curtain panels. A good DIY solution for hanging a "curtain rod" without really hanging a curtain rod is buying a long dowel rod that can sit inside two large command hooks on either side of your window. (I think this was my freshman roommate, Haley's idea!) It look so much better than a tension rod placed inside the window frame. Place your command hooks high and wide so the curtain panels don't block the window so much as frame it. I usually aim for just 1-2 inches of overlap on the actual window when the curtain panels are bunched and gathered nicely. And again, make sure they are floor length! You will at least need 84", if not 96" curtain panels to achieve this.
3. Large Scale "Art"
Oversized art can make a major impact in any interior's decor. College students have known this for decades, hence the popularity of posters! One simple tip for elevating your door room decor is to buy frames for your posters. I used the cheapo $8 frames that come apart in 4 pieces when I was in college, but I really recommend spending $15-20 to get a basic poster frame from a store like Michaels or Target. They look so much better and won't fall apart while they are hanging on your wall like the cheapo cardboard and plastic version. For just a little more money, you'll have a frame that will better protect your poster and help it to last through the next 4 years. Hang your poster frame with a set of large Command velcro picture hanging strips. If you really want to take the look to the next level, try to stick to more unique posters (aka none of these) with an artistic quality that speaks to your personality and interests. There are a ton of unique and affordable poster designs out there on sites like Art.com and Allposters.com. Some Etsy shops even offer printable poster designs for around $5! Even better, design your own printable poster using Microsoft PowerPoint that you can take to Staples or Kinko's and have an engineering print made for just a couple dollars. Create a cheeky typography poster (like I did) or enlarge a favorite black and white poster. You can't get more unique than that!
4. Bedside Lamp
Back the horrible dorm room lighting. A cute table lamp will not only add style to your space, it will also provide a softer, more flattering light quality than the single overhead fixture will. It also is a nice thing to have if you and your roommate have different morning class schedules and wakeup times or if you like to read before bed. Pick a good sized lamp with an interesting base shape, color or shade. There are only so many decor items you can fit into a dorm room, so make sure to find something with some personality! If both you and your roommate have table lamps, you may never even turn the yucky overhead fluorescents on!
5. Decorative Pillows
Chances are you bought one of those "Bed in a Bags" for your Twin XL. Make it your own by adding a few decorative pillows. A tried and true pillow arrangement is two matching larger pillows at least 18"x 18" one smaller or rectangular pillow to layer in front. The larger two can even double as floor pillows for when you have a lot of guests! Pull color inspiration from your comforter and sheet set, extra credit if you mix in a complementary pattern! The smaller pillow should have some personality and interest. Maybe it has textured woven look, a pretty print or a monogram applique (if that's your style!). Taking the extra time to place these 3 pillows on your bed in the morning will make your room feel much more polished and pulled together.
Need some inspiration? Made this for you ;)
PILLOWS: 1. Pie For Breakfast | 2. Good Vibes | 3. Tie Dye Blues | 4. Teal Overdyed | 5. Pineapple | 6. Eyes | 7. Sanela Dark Turquoise | 8. Macrame | 9. Make Your Own Luck | 10. Light Pink Faux Fur | 11. Enjoy Today | 12. Black Cats | 13. Beverly II | 14. Spring Blooms Floral | 15. Geodesic
LAMPS: 1. Gold Geometric | 2. Aqua Faceted Ceramic | 3. Mixed Materials | 4. Boho Boutique | 5. Industrial Shop Concrete | 6. Bardell Ceramic | 7. KVAVE Ceramic Black | 8. Navy Stripe with Red | 9. HOLMLIDEN Black | 10. Orange Gourd
Whew! That was a long one. But if you're someone who's moving into the dorms this week, I hope you found this helpful! If you're not a college student but have any friends, kids, or family members that are, I would be so stoked if you shared this post with them!