How to: Decorating a dorm room

You can make your dorm cozy, functional and matching to you and your roommates personalities!

It’s that time of year when high school graduates are contemplating the all-important rite of passage: going off to college.

What will it be like? Will I make new friends? Will my classes be hard? And most importantly, what is my roommate like and how will we decorate the dorm?

So many good ideas abound, there’s no reason why “the dreaded dorm room” can’t be warm, colorful, and reflect the personalities of its occupants. Don’t let the small quarters cramp your design style. Here are some tips and tricks to take your dorm room from bland to beautiful.

First, consult with your roommate on a color or theme that you both can live with. Then, think outside the small white box!

Think multi-functional. Each piece should have a dual purpose. A futon, small poufs or stacking tables can do double duty, and valuable floor space is not wasted. Think vertically and look skyward.

Use the walls to organize and personalize. Decorative shelving and boxes keep clutter at bay. An added bonus – it creates another layer of interest.

Elevating beds or building a loft allows you to use the premium space underneath for storage, and is a no brainer. Designate areas for eating, sleeping, and studying. 

Layering fabrics and carpets creates a sense of coziness, while no sew curtains inject a major design wow, second only to the bedding. 

Self-adhesive hooks are ideal for hanging art, decorative mirrors, or framed photos.  Temporary decals jazz up any cement wall and allow you to personalize your dorm; then you can conveniently reuse them in your next space. If you are feeling more ambitious, I love the matching headboards that can be stapled together quite quickly and easily.

Like anything else, you can choose to go minimal or choose to go crazy. It’s up to you (and your roommate). Thinking outside the little cement box and creating a room that expresses and comforts you, promotes well being, functions efficiently, is conducive to studying and sleeping, (because isn’t that why you’re really there?) is a task worth tackling. Plus, these small space tips will help you then transition to your first apartment. 

For more great ideas, visit my Pinterest board.


About Carrie Leskowitz For more than 12 years, Carrie Leskowitz has been creating some of the most stylish rooms in the Philadelphia region. Once a fashion and prop stylist, Carrie is now a renowned interior designer, and owner of a successful interior design business, Carrie Leskowitz Interiors. Leskowitz has created a style all her own, centered around luxe, organic, natural design with a dash of glamour. With a great eye for fashion, Carrie consults on residential and commercial projects in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and DC areas. For more information about Leskowitz visit or her blog, Carrie’s Design Musings