Dorm Room Decorating 101

Thinking outside the box (or standard freshman-dorm-room rectangle) can transform a cold cube into a cozy retreat.

By Katie McNew July 22, 2014

First, let's state the facts. You are an incoming college freshman. You have next-to-no money, which is appropriate as you should focus on schoolwork, not work work, so that one day you will have more than next-to-no money. You also have been living for the past 18 or so years in your parents' home, which may or may not mean a room adorned with rows of tee-ball trophies and pull-outs from Tiger Beat pinned to the wall/ceiling. Not that that's not great. Okay, it's not great. But now is your time to spread your wings, express your individuality, find yourself. 

Best to start with your dorm room. 

There are a few simple things you can do to jazz up your standard linoleum-floored, cinder-block-walled rectangular dorm room. And because you'll want to spend what little money you do have on, um, extracurricular activities, let's source everything from IKEA.

1. Add a rug. 

Whether your room comes carpeted or not, get a rug. It will instantly warm the space and give it much-needed personality. Don't be scared of a bold, graphic pattern. Small spaces can take it, plus your furniture and new storage stool will break up the pattern.

IKEA PS 2014 Rug, $79.99

2. Get a new storage stool.

Your dorm room will likely come with these four things: a bed, a chest of drawers, a desk, and a chair. That is all.  Adding another place to sit will elevate your room from run-of-the-mill to new-fun-hangout-spot. And picking a stool with storage is a no-brainer. 

Bosnas Footstool with Storage, $14.99

3. Be bold with bedding.

Again, small spaces can take a lot of texture and pattern. Mix the two with bold bedding choices, and include sheets, a comforter, pillowcases, a sham, and at least one decorative pillow on your bed-scape. And please do not buy a bed-in-a-bag. Remember: you're finding yourself, and yourself is not in a prefab bag. 

Bjornloka Duvet and Pillowcase, $29.99


Dvala twin sheet set, $12.99

PS 2014 Cushion, $14.99

Lisel Cushion, $14.99

4. Add wallpaper.

Okay, we all know you can't actually install wallpaper in your dorm. But, you can frame and hang some large pieces on the cheap, adding instant interest to a drab, gray wall. And because things are better in threes, get three frames and use three coordinating pieces of paper or even cheap fabric right from the IKEA textile department. 

Fjallsta frame, $14.99-$39.99

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