7 Ways to Make Your Dorm Room a Home Away from Home

For busy college students, ideal dorm room ideas deliver the most functional or decorative impact with the least investment of time.

By Marie Proeller Hueston | Updated Aug 26, 2013 6:58 PM

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Dorm Room Ideas

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In her book, Speed Decorating, interior decorator Jill Vegas offers tips and tricks for anyone interested in putting together a beautiful space—quickly. Low fuss is always a plus, but for college students in particular, the concept of fast-pace design holds special appeal. While undergraduates want to live in fun and functional surroundings, their favorite dorm room ideas are usually those requiring the least time to implement.

Related: 10 Honor Roll-Worthy Dorm Room Storage Solutions

“The beginning of the academic year is the perfect time to create an ideal living environment,” says Vegas. “College is about following your dreams, so why not live in a dream room?” Read on for expert advice aimed at helping you transform the blank canvas of your dorm room into a personalized home away from home, custom-tailored to your daily needs and sense of style.


1. Pare Down to Essentials

Dorm Room Ideas - Pare Down

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According to Vegas, “The best way to make a space inviting is to include only items that you love.” Instead of packing up every miscellaneous knick knack from your bedroom back home, Vegas recommends that you “carefully edit your essentials, so you don’t clutter your dorm room with stuff.”


2. Begin with the Bed

Dorm Room Ideas - Bedding

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The focal point in most dorm rooms, the bed is the best place to direct your initial burst of decorating zeal. “Ideally, the bed should be able to pull double duty as a place not only to sleep, but also to read, study, and lounge,” says Vegas. “In addition to bedding, choose three to seven accent pillows to finish the look.”


3. Color Coordinate Your Desk

Dorm Room Ideas - Organized Desk

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“Start with a fabulous desk lamp,” Vegas suggests. “You’ll want something stylish and very functional for late-night reading.” After that, move on to the accessories. “Pick one accent color and purchase your desk items in that color. If you prefer a neutral palette, stick with natural tones like ivory or white.”


4. Personalize Your Walls

Photo: dormify.com

Create an accent wall with framed photographs of family and friends. “Collect an assortment of inexpensive frames from thrift stores and yard sales, then unify the look by spray painting them all in your favorite color. A gallery wall like this is a great way to add color to the room while making it feel more like you.”


5. Don’t Ignore the Floor

Dorm Room Ideas - Flokati

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A small accent can make a large impact on your level of comfort. “You’ll definitely want a cozy rug by your bed,” Vegas says. “I like a plush sheepskin or a similar style that feels like you’re stepping on a cloud. It can also function as a throw if you’d like to put it over your desk chair for an extra layer of comfort.”


6. Keep It Neat

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Liberate your dorm room from attention-stealing disorder by placing your possessions out of sight and into trunks or storage boxes. “Make sure everything has a place,” Vegas urges. “I prefer clear boxes that allow you to see what you have.” Save floor space by situating storage containers under the bed or in the closet.


7. Involve Your Roommate

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“Share your design ideas with your roomie and listen to his or her ideas, too,” Vegas concludes. “It’s a great way to learn how to collaborate and to create a space that is a celebration of your new adventure at school.”


For more on Speed Decorating, including online decorating classes, visit Jill Vegas.