Will you or someone you know be heading off to college this year? We’ve got some great design ideas that will transform that drab dorm room into a stylish space that will be the talk of the campus.

Chances are when you arrive at college your new home will look something like this:

Design Connection Inc Blog Prison Cell Dorm Room

It looks like a prison cell, right? The only thing missing in this picture is a steel toilet bolted to the floor. When you add a roommate or two and all of your belongings, your dorm room can quickly change from lacking personality to lacking floor space all together. Not only do you have a lot of personal items to make accommodations for, you have a lot of things to do in this teeny tiny space.

Your new one-room home, which is smaller than most studio apartments, will now take on the personality of many rooms at once. Bedroom, kitchen, dining room, study room, dance studio… How can you possibly share this space and keep your sanity? You’re talking to Certified Interior Designer with over 35 years of experience, so we’re going to start off where I begin all of my interior design projects:

Space Planning

Know your dimensions. Design Your Dorm has an amazing internet based 3-D design tool that will help you figure out how to arrange your furniture before your move-in day. Why push and pull your heavy furniture into all of the possible floor plan combinations when you can point and click your way into an ideal living space? Customizing your floor plan will allow you to free up as much floor space as possible. Luckily, most shared dorm rooms are equipped with beds that easily convert into loft or bunk beds.

3D Space Plan Dorm Room Design Connection Inc Kansas City Interior Design


Closet space will certainly be at a minimum, so make the best use of your under-bed space. If you have more than a few pair of shoes, where do you plan to keep them? This easy accessible tweed under-bed shoe organizer stores 16 pairs of shoes!  Underbed Shoe Organizer Design Connection Inc Kansas City interior design blogIf lofting your bed is not an option, use bed risers to free up that much needed under-bed storage space. While most bed risers will give you an extra 5”, these Power Bed Risers from Bed, Bath & Beyond not only lift your bed an extra 8”, they provide you with a pair of both grounded outlets and USB outlets. Waiting in line for the shower is acceptable. Waiting in line for a power outlet when you’ve got a deadline is not!

Photo Source: Bed Bath & Beyond

If raising your bed hasn’t gotten you the storage space you need, consider investing in a free standing shelving system. Cube stacks can be great space savers when utilized in the closet and can easily be moved around as your needs and locations change. Four years is a long time to be living out of the suitcase under your bed!

Design Connection Inc Blog Dorm Room Free Standing Shelves

Hide your storage cubes and cover the institutional furniture of your dorm room with fabrics. If you can’t find a bed skirt to compliment the lift you’ve given your bed, this look can easily be achieved with a coordinating flat sheet and no-sew fabric glue.

Dorm Room Bed Skirt Design Connection Inc Kansas Coty Interior Design
Photo Source: Pinterest.

If you are fortunate enough to have a mini-fridge in your quarters, consider investing in a storage cart like the Elfa Mesh Compact Fridge Cart from The Container Store. Now you don’t have to worry about where you will store all of those snacks!

elfa fridge cart Design Connection Inc Kansas City interior design blog


Most dormitories do not allow cosmetic changes to the property. No painting and no holes of any kind in the walls. So where does that leave us when it comes to livening up the place? Colorful bedding and throw pillows will definitely make your bed look specular but it doesn’t do much for your very bare walls. Temporary wallpaper is a fantastic option for bringing a pop of color or a punch of pattern to your space. It’s basically a giant sticker that you can take down and reposition as many times as you like, leaving no residue behind.

Removable temporary wallpaper dorm room Design Connection Inc Kansas City Interior Designer

The easiest way to bring style to a small space is with color; for dorm rooms that means bedding. Sure, you may be able to find a bed-in-a-bag that resembles your style, but creating your own designs is much more fun! Decor2urDoor.com has an amazing selection of designer bedding options that make it easy to piece together a look that is just your style. See how you can design your own bedding here.

Design Your Bedding Dorm Room Design Connection Inc Kansas City Interior Design
Photo Source: decor2urdoor.com

Another way to add a splash of color and comfort to your space is with an upholstered headboard. Chances are, you are on a college student’s budget and upholstered headboards can be pricey. Unless you make one yourself, that is! Using batting, cardboard and a sheet of fabric, this look was achieved for less than $20. For a simple squared headboard a framed canvas from your local craft store will do the trick. See how you can DIY here.

DIY Headboard Dorm Room Design Connection Inc Kansas City Interior Design


You’ve maximized your floor space and storage; you’ve personalized your walls and bedding. Now for a moment of privacy. HA! Very funny. Privacy is almost impossible to achieve in a shared dorm room. Almost. With the dormitories’ tight rules and restrictions when it comes to decking out your space, installing a wall just isn’t going to happen. Or is it? Fabric room dividers are an option, but you have to get creative. If you can’t even hang a postcard with a thumb tack, how can one hang divider curtains? With a tension rod and no-sew iron on glue, of course!

Design Connection Inc Blog Dorm Privacy Curtains with Tension Rod
Photo Source: CollegeLifestyles.org.

Do you have dorm room design ideas that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below or connect with us on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you! We’ve got even more design ideas and storage solutions for your dorm room on our Pinterest Page.