College Advice Blog

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Aug 5, 2012

The Dos and Don’ts of Dorm Room Decoration

A dorm room is a temporary space, but an overly plain or uncomfortable dwelling can make even nine months seem like an eternity. College life is difficult enough without living in a room that just adds to your stress level. This list of dos and don’ts should push you in the right direction for crafting a dorm room that’s comfortable, classy and calming.

Do decide on a unified color scheme – Pick a dominant color and 2-3 additional colors that compliment it well. If you want to incorporate your school’s colors into the mix, use them as secondary colors to avoid living in a room that’s one giant cliché. There are plenty of great websites that will help you pick out a color scheme. Be relaxed about this color scheme but try to fit it whenever possible to give your dwelling a unified feel.

Don’t force your roommate into a color scheme – If you’re sharing a room, make sure that your roommate it okay with following the color scheme but don’t force him/her into it. If that person isn’t comfortable with the idea or excited for it at all, then it will just be your side of the room that looks unified. If they are okay with it, agree on colors that work for both of you. There’s no reason to start a fight with the person you’re going to be living with for 9 months, especially over something like color.

Do use wall hangings and decals – Since chances are good that you won’t be able to actually paint a wall or use wallpaper, consider some alternatives. There are wall decals both large and small that are easy to apply and even easier to remove at the end of the semester. A tasteful tapestry is also a great idea for an accent wall.

Don’t clutter your walls – You might have a ton of tiny pictures, postcards and other mementos, but don’t clutter up your wall space with them. Line a mirror or bulletin board with the small things if you can. Alternatively, you can put several smaller pictures in the same frame for a classier and more minimalist approach to displaying these sentimental items.

Do display some artwork – 1-4 framed pieces of art or posters will look great in your dorm room. Again, match the room’s color if you can. Cheap prints and posters are available from many physical and online retailers, but you can also check Etsy, Craigslist, yard sales and thrift shops. Go for something unique.

Do loft your bed – If you have the option, lofting a dorm room bed can give you some great additional storage space in what is likely a tiny space. This will minimize the clutter in the room and let your actual decorations take their rightful place of prominence. Use a blanket or a curtain to cover the storage area if it’s unsightly.

Don’t ignore how your bed actually looks – Not only is your bed something you’ll have to actually sleep on most every night, it’s also bound to be the focal point of the room. Pick a comforter and pillows that match the color scheme you’ve chosen for your room. Your bed is your own little fortress of solitude in a dorm room, so make sure you love the way it looks and feels.

Do put some effort into lighting – Your study, hangout and living space should be well lit and comfortable. Chances are you already have an overhead light and a desk lamp, but consider obtaining a few floor lamps to soften the light in the room. You can use all sorts of colored lamp shades to great effect, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Don’t leave a jumble of cords – This goes for lamps, the TV, video game systems, desktop computers and whatever other electronics you have—don’t leave a rat’s nest of cords and wires on the floor or against the wall. They’re an absolute eyesore, so find creative ways to cover them up or at least minimalize their appearance. Beyond being a stressful detractor from your décor, they are also quite dangerous.

Do bring items from home – You’re obviously going to bring some photos that mean something to you in order to make your dorm room feel a bit more like home, but there are many other items you can use for decoration. Pick a few choice things that actually mean something to you and place them on your desk, shelves, dresser or book case.

Don’t overdo it with the clutter – Your keepsakes and mementos are important, but don’t overdo it at all. Too many knickknacks can result in an extremely cluttered look on a desk or dresser, so keep it down to essentials. You might have a ton of basketball or softball trophies, for instance, but you should only bring the one or two that mean the most to you.

Do let the space reflect who you are – This is one of the most important aspects of decoration. Every single design element in your living space should be something that comforts you, makes you happy or expresses your individuality. Your dorm room décor should be able to instantly make you feel relaxed and at home, and only you can determine what’s going to work in that regard. While someone else’s super modern and trendy dorm room you glimpse online might look great, it’s probably not perfect for you. This is your space and it should be an extension of who you are.

Don’t stress out about decorationDecoration is an important part of any living space, but it’s not worth getting upset about. Craft your dorm room as you go and make as many changes as you need to. Don’t fret about achieving a perfect look or impressing other people. You should always keep your room clean and as free of clutter as you can in order to avoid stress, but certainly don’t let finding the perfect print or throw pillow stress you out—you’ll find them eventually. Remember that, above all else, your dorm room is your living space and it should never cause you any stress.

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About the Author 
Adam Farwell is a writer, blogger and designer. He generally blogs about design, marketing, small business branding and the various creative projects he’s involved in. He currently writes for the funny shirts retailer.
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