10 Small Space Decorating Ideas Perfect for Dorm Rooms
Moving into a dorm for the first time is one of the most exciting experiences a young adult will go through. Decorating the confining (and often dark) space? That's decidedly less fun. When your bed and desk take up most of the floor and you have to factor in your roommate's sensibilities along with your own, having an edited shopping list—and a clear plan in mind!—is important. Bailey Austin, principal designer at Bailey Austin Design (who has been helping her own intern prepare a shopping list for the big move), recommends "keeping it simple, maximizing storage, and having fun expressing yourself," she says.
After all, your dorm room is an extension of your style, and it's where you'll be spending time studying, reading, hanging out with friends, watching movies, and listening to music, so it should reflect your personality. It should also be a calm, soothing haven for you amid the excitement and stress of college.
Taylor Richardson, interior designer and owner of design studio Fringe, remembers decorating her own dorm room all too well. "When I first started out in art school eight years ago, my roommate and I combined our styles, and it looked great," she says. "She was studying fashion design, and I, interior design. She had a lot of moody colors in her space, as did I, but we did it tastefully. [Our room] was curated to the point where it didn't feel like a dorm. It was a great feeling."
Here, Richardson and Austin share their top decorating tips for dorm rooms. Small spaces have never looked so chic.
Use Vertical Space
You'll save space anytime you can swap out a standing piece of furniture for one that hangs on the walls, which is why the experts like these fun, geometric shelves from Restoration Hardware. "Wall shelving is ideal," Richardson says. "Plus, you can personalize them with décor and your own accent pieces that make the space you."
Plants are one décor item that will never look cluttered—not to mention the fact that they clean your air, add oxygen, and help create a peaceful space. "For rooms with a lot of light, tropical plants, cacti, and palms are best," Richardson says. For spaces with low light, try a ZZ or snake plant.
Look for Two-in-One Products
Products that do double-duty will be super functional. Think: desk lamps that also have phone charging stations and bed risers that include phone outlets (Austin recommends USB Power Bed Risers). We're also loving this new collaboration between IKEA and Sonos. The SYMFONISK is a table lamp and WiFi speaker in one.
Keep Your Color Palette Clean
For tiny quarters, don't go overboard with prints and patterns. "Limit your patterns to make the space feel less busy," says Austin. "I tend to lean toward neutrals with a little pop of color through a euro sham. It allows you to add personality without overwhelming the room."
Find Fun Ways to Store Clutter
Use cute and functional storage items that hide the necessary organization, Austin says. Think: big wicker baskets for things like sweatshirts, sweaters, and even paperwork. She also likes this under-bed storage solution from The Container Store.
Create a Cozy Nook
Designate one corner as a chic reading area. Fill it with a pouf, petite arm chair, round rug, faux fur throw, lamp, and small side table—it will create the perfect place to have a bit of down time, Richardson says. Plus, it prevents corners from getting filled with clutter!
Lighting Is Everything
Don't let the harsh dorm overheads be your only source of light. "Plug-in pendant lights are everything," Richardson says. "Find a really cool one or two and hang those babies." They'll add coziness and major ambience to your space. We like this chic brass light from Urban Outfitters.
Choose Unique Wall Art
"I love wall art, but do it minimally," advises Richardson. "In a small space, you want to find that one piece that you spend a little more on because it's one-of-a-kind and unique, instead of something that's reproduced everywhere."
Add Texture with Bedding
"Again, it's a small space so you want to keep it clean," Richardson says. "So try a pop of texture or color in the throw pillows, or maybe a throw blanket at the end of the bed that coordinates with the art [in the room]."
Stave Off Homesickness with Photos
"Display photos in a small gallery wall, and make it unique—no need to use a leveler and make them straight and fancy," Richardson says. We also love the high-quality prints from Artifact Uprising hung up with fun Washi tape.