You’re off to college, and the adventure of a lifetime, meeting new people and being on your own, and making sure your dorm room decor and organization makes the grade. You excitedly open the door for the first time, the place you’ll call home for the year ahead, only to find a bland, beige room staring back. How are you supposed to be inspired in here? And how the heck are you going to fit all your stuff in that tiny closet and desk? You’re already missing your room back home.
But dorm rooms don’t have to be dull and crowded. This is your opportunity to express your personality and prove your organization skills!
Dorm Room Organization
Ideally you should plan ahead well before you leave home to bring only what you’ll need and will fit in this small space.
“If you can get a floor plan ahead of time, it will help you figure out how items might fit,” says professional organizer Lauren Williams of Casual Uncluttering. “Find out what furniture will be supplied, and don’t make assumptions that you can replace anything with your own choices.”
The desk area is best set up depending on your preferences, Lauren advices. “Duplicate whatever worked at home. If you like colored folders, then go with those. If you need headphones to block the noise, be sure to bring them.”
Dorm desks are traditionally quite small, so some additional storage may be required to keep it from getting cluttered. “You may want to get file sorters to make work accessible or some kind of bin to stash everything under the desk. Maybe try to fit a small file cabinet next to the desk.”
She recommends waiting to purchase storage and organization products until you’ve actually moved into the room. “You’ll get a better feel for what you need.”
There are lots of ways to create extra storage space with clever product choices, she says.
- Additional wire shelves to stack on top of built-in shelves
- Cascading add-on clothes hangers to increase closet capacity
- Bed risers (if allowed) to raise the bed and add to put in under-bed storage
- Ottomans with built in storage
- Desktop book shelves
- Cubby systems
Dorm Room Decorating
Once you’re set up and organized, it’s time to have a little decorating fun to make this beige box your own!
Adding color is a good way to liven up dorm room décor, says interior designer Patricia Davis Brown of Dig This Design.
“Most dorms don’t allow painting, but you could use fabric-backed wallpaper for decorating the walls and it can be removed easily,” she said. “Try using wallpaper to decorate furniture by applying it to the face of dresser drawers.”
Adding texture to the room will also create interest. Patricia points to the obvious choices of throw pillows and rugs but has a clever solution for fashionistas: “Girls love their shoes and purses and they come in all shapes and colors. Why not store them on the wall to add texture and additional storage? Use strip of crown molding with a flat back to hang shoes and decorative removable hooks to hang purses.”
Lighting can also bring a room to life. “Try a layered lighting approach,” says Patricia. “I like the multi-use Lumio light that’s great for a desk or bedside. Then put up a fun string of lights for ambient lighting.”
If you’re on a tight budget, take some time to think about how the available lamps will look in your space before you purchase additional lighting.
Coordinate Personal Touches in Your Dorm Room
Both Patricia and Lauren agree that it’s important to also bring the comforts of home such as your favorite pillow and linens, a toy, posters and some mementos. “Bring plenty of pictures of your friends, family and pets to remind you that you are loved!” says Patricia. “It is a wonderful way to add a decorative character to your space and introduce your new roommate to your favorite people.”
Speaking of roommates, consider combining resources to save space. “Have a conversation before you move in together and get an idea of what they are bringing and how it will all fit together."
And don’t forget to be considerate of your roomie. “It’s fine to define two separate spaces that can be designed for each person’s style, just try not to be so loud it affects the other person,” says Patricia.
By adding a little personality and a few comforts, your dorm room will soon feel like a space you can call your own – at least until school lets out!
Photos courtesy of Jessica from The Lovely Side