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Dorm room design

Back to School: Dorm Design Tips for Creating a Big Impact in a Small Space

Last Updated on August 12, 2016

Heading off to college can be an exciting adventure, as students embrace their new found independence and leave the nest. One of the first reality checks for students and their parents is seeing the size of the dorm room and wondering how they’ll fit everything into such a small space. Before panic sets in – keep in mind everyone is in the same boat and wondering the same thing. The good news is that students can finally get creative and personalize their own space, expressing their interests and personalities with products and hacks perfectly designed for dorm living.

The following are some helpful tips and budget-friendly design ideas to inspire turning a drab dorm room into a fun space to call your own.

Tips to Create and Maximize Your Dorm Room Space

Symmetrically Designed Dorm Room
(Photo courtesy of
  • Pack the Minimum: It’s not so much what to bring than what not to bring. Packing every pair of shoes and game consoles is not the best idea on the first move. Bringing only the bare essentials is the way to go when first moving into the dorm. Additional items can be moved later – once the student is settled in and knows how much space they’re living with.
  • Maintain Symmetry: For students who are sharing a room, keeping each side symmetrical – by mirroring each other’s arrangements – will make the room look larger and more organized. Using storage bins that fit under the bed is one of the best ways to reduce clutter. Experts say to avoid buying too many large plastic bins that might take up a lot of space under the bed. Instead, they suggest using colored cloth bins, as these are more decorative and will add to the décor if they have to be out and visible in the room.
  • Decorate with Colors and Patterns: Dorm rooms can be dull and dreary, and most colleges and universities do not allow students to paint their rooms. The choice of bedding is the best place to start when planning a dorm theme. Students should pick colors and patterns that make them feel at home. (And, they shouldn’t forget to add plenty of pillows. The bed also acts as a couch, so buying large body pillows is helpful in creating a sofa-bed feel.) Another tip is to try choosing darker colors to hide any spills or stains from those late-night study breaks. To add another pop of color, students might consider adding a cozy blanket to the bed, buying a fun throw rug, or hanging curtains to compliment the comforter. These added touches will tie the room together and add a warm and homey feeling to the space.
  • Memory Wall: Students should leave the posters home and consider filling the walls with pictures of friends and family. As excited as they are about being away, they might still feel homesick. Framing personal photos of special people and memories not only creates a more mature and artistic feel to the space, but brings a touch of home to the room.

Fun and Budget-Friendly Dorm Design Ideas to Make it Your Own

Wall art in dorm room
(Photo courtesy of
  • Removable Wall Art: This fun and creative idea is an affordable and easy way to decorate a large wall. Adding 3D texture to the picture can make the design come alive.
  • Washi Tape: This decorative paper tape is all the rage and is finding its way to the most unsuspecting places. Students are using washi tape to create fun designs on the walls and furniture in their dorm rooms, even to decorate their small refrigerators.
  • String Lights: The hanging of string lights has become a staple in dorm living. There’s something about the nostalgia and coziness of the small white lights that creates a sense of warmth and comfort in the room. Students find themselves hanging the lights everywhere – from draping them around their windows to stringing them across their ceilings.
  • Corkboards: Today’s corkboards are a far cry from yesterday’s boring brown boards. With so many sizes, patterns and styles to choose from, students are embracing all the creative ways to use these boards for both function and fashion.  Use a decorative corkboard to hang necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

For those heading off to college, Granite Transformations wishes you the best of luck in your future. For more information about Granite Transformations, please visit

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