Dorm room decor: tips from a designer

The time has come! Your child is all grown up and heading to college. Mom and decorator, Anna, has a few tips to help your child's dorm room feel less like a concrete box and more like a warm and inviting space.

By Anna Kusterer

Lifestyle

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When their first taste of independent living lands in a small concrete box…

Those four dorm room walls are screaming for character. Rest assured you’re not doomed to this bland cell. There are a plethora of ways to create a haven out of the cold tan walls! Luckily for the current generation of college goers, decor has come a long way in affordability (Thank you Target! Take all of our money!) and cuteness (ditto, Target!). Below you’ll find just a few tips and tricks to make this new, and dare I say strange place, a space to call home.

One of my tried and true tips for creating warmth in any space is by using organic shapes.

It is especially true for all of the 90-degree angles you find in a dorm room, but it will bring coziness to any space and it gives the eye a break and a soft place to land – think curtains, sheepskin rug, bolster on the bed!

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If there is a roommate involved, try to coordinate colors and decor scheme with each other.

You can try matching bedding or even just pillows or coordinating macrame wall hangings over the bed. Anything to bring cohesiveness to the space will keep the eye from feeling like it doesn’t know where to look.

Let’s start with my favorite place to start in any room. THE RUG!

Dorm room flooring can be cold at worst and stained at best. Don’t even count on it being decent. It never is! A great rug will instantly transform that little box into a place you might want to linger in awhile. It is also a great place to start in the color scheme. You can base all of your extra decor on what is found in the rug. It is a good place to bring in a little color to hide dirt but also to allow the rest of the room a more neutral and peaceful feel.

Since most dorm rooms average around 12x19ft, try to select a rug that will cover most of that area. Large rugs make the room feel bigger and also help with noise absorption.

And I beg of you: don’t skip the quality rug pad!

Speaking of where to look – creating a focal point can be important when there is alot going on in a small room.

One of my favorite hacks for dorm room glam is hanging a plug-in overhead light. This immediately makes the space feel purposeful and more like home. It also produces a warm glow overhead rather than the harsh industrial lighting that most dorm rooms boast. You can even hide the cord with plastic cord covers that make for a clean finish. Try to go for a rattan or woven light. Bringing in these organic materials will really warm up the space.

There’s nothing more organic than a little greenery.

Whether you’ve got a green thumb or all thumbs, adding some low maintenance plants in the room will boost your spirits and even your health. They are great for air quality which can get pretty stagnant in dorm rooms and not to mention, make the space more beautiful and welcoming.

Stick to plants like succulents, air plants, or snake plants – all hearty and easy to care for!

Stick them by that window (that you added soft curtains to) and watch them thrive.

Speaking of light, a large mirror is a necessity when dealing with a small space.

It reflects light and makes the room feel much larger. It’s also a plus for gabbing and getting ready to go out for the night! Again, choosing an organic shape (round or oblong) can really soften the surroundings.

A beautiful room will engage all of the senses, so we certainly cannot forget about smell.

One of my favorite things about curating a space is bringing in a beautiful candle or incense. Since candles are a fire hazard, let’s focus on a yummy diffuser. The reed diffusers are safe and not a terrible eye sore. A room spray can also be used before friends arrive.

One more important component of any dorm room that cannot be overlooked is organization.

Using the space under the bed is crucial and a great way to hide bins. Gone are the days when plastic drawers were on display. You have a grown up (sorta) who wants their space to look mature and collected. Try using the faux wood drawers instead or even an antique piece for storage.

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And I’ll leave you with two words: Command. Strips.

They will save your sanity and help keep those last moments with your college kid chill rather than stressful. They are easy and functional and you oughta feel blessed to have them.

Peace out and peace within, momma!

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