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How to Design a Dorm Room

Attempting to plan, decorate, and design a college dorm room that is the size of a cardboard box is no easy feat. You want to make your shoebox-sized room as homey as you can while making it practical and not going overboard. Often times you've never even seen this room in real life so how are you suppose to plan and design a room you've never even seen?! Luckily since most dorm rooms are so small, a lot goes a long way. 
I lived in a dorm my freshman and sophomore year. I loved it! Less to clean and I loved living on a hall with 30-40 other girls. I could walk down the hallway and automatically have 5 friends to go to dinner with or when you're having a wardrobe emergency, there's always someone else your size just a few doors down. 

I was excited junior year when it came time to live in an apartment and to have some more space, but I really was sad that I would miss the community feel of a hall. So in my opinion, dorms really don't deserve the bad rep they have. 

I did almost all of my planning and shopping for both of my dorm rooms the summer before. That way when it came time for move in, I had everything with me and there was no need for trips to target during the chaos of move-in (promise it will be chaos, it's unavoidable). 

It's normal to feel overwhelmed by this challenge to decorate a room you've never even seen, but luckily you can take it step by step to make the process a little easier. 

1. Pick Out Your Bedding: In most college dorm rooms, the bed takes up the most space, so it's your bedding that is really going to set the scene for the rest of the room. Once you pick the bedding that you love, plan all your other colors around that. I suggest picking a bedding that you really love because it could last you the next few years. I picked a white duvet the last 2 years, and although some people are hesitant about white, I've loved mine! I paired it with fun sheets that gave it a pop of color. 

I know in all the pretty Pinterest pictures you have matching bedding with your roommate. But don't think that it's necessary. My roommate and I have very different taste so we went with something different both years and it was not a big deal at all! I would also suggest getting something that's washable. Since your bed serves often times also as a couch in a dorm room, spills and accidents will happen. 
2. duvet + sheets (sheets I have in my room!)

2. Pick Your Throw Pillows: Since this tiny little room is now going to be your little home away from home you want to make it as comfy and cozy as possible. I love pillows and they can really add a pop of color. In my book, throw pillows are like cardigans....you can never have too many. 
one // two // three
four // five // six
ten // eleven // tweleve 

3. Pick Your Wall Art: Those ugly cinder block walls aren't exactly appealing to the eye and make your already small dorm room feel a little bit like a prison cell. Adding lots of fun wall art that matches your bedding and sheets can add a lot to the small space and make it feel more like a home and less like a cell. I did a fun gallery over my bed sophomore year and got compliments on it all the time! You could also hang some pictures over your desk! 

I suggest bringing more command hooks than you think you will need to hang everything up. Another thing I would suggest is thinking about the layout of your pictures before hand. If you want a gallery wall, lay them out at home and take a picture. That way on move in day you don't have to waste your time deciding what you want next to each other!

one // two // three // four // five // six // seven // eight // nine // ten

4. Pick Your Desk Accessories: Some people study more in the library rather than sitting at the desk in their room, but it's still nice to have your desk neat and organized with all your school supplies. I brought a hutch (like this one) every year to put on top of my desk to create more storage space. Keeping your desk organized can sometimes be challenging and often times in my dorm room it became more of a dumping ground for everything and anything, but I promise it is possible to keep it clean and neat!

See more of my dorm related posts here:

Good luck and transform that tiny, cold space into your humble abode! Tweet me or tag me in your dorm rooms (@prepavenue), I wanna see what you were able to do with your tiny space!





  1. Love this! All of these options are so pretty too!


  2. OMG I want to buy everything from this post! Amazing picks!
    XO Alyson | My Life as Alyson

  3. I'm obsessed with everything, especially the desk picks!
    xo, Syd

  4. Great tips! I definitely second starting out with the bedding it will really help to keep things organized.