Search Rate My Space dorm rooms and you’ll find that students take risks, mix function with fun and shop on a budget. Whether or not you’re headed back to school, don’t miss these creative small spaces and tips from the budding designers.
Seeing so many cool and creative dorm rooms on Rate My Space almostmade me want to go back to college. Designing for a dorm room is fleeting, so why not have fun with it!
This University of St. Thomas student took a tropical theme to the extreme. Vine lighting, faux trees, tiki torches and a grass bed canopy surround the bed. The room comes to life with bird noises and a waterfall under the bed. Grass walls and a simulated beach carpet complete the look. The lighting can be dimmed to create the mood of relaxing in a tropical paradise. This is anything but an ordinary dorm room. Design by ssc333.
A 9×12 single dorm room is difficult to decorate, but this student did it and managed to incorporate personal style. Utilizing the walls to decorate adds more space on the floor. Lighting is an essential addition to this room and includes spotlights, ceiling lights and table lamps. The student’s favorite part of the room is the faux brick wall and the wall art creatively fashioned from a bathroom floor mat. We agree. Design by limlaunch21.
Retro on a Dime
Liz, a senior in nursing at West Virginia University, wanted a city look for her college apartment. A tight budget made it more difficult but didn’t stop her from creating a retro-chic space and making it fun. Liz says she looked to expensive stores for inspiration, then created a similar look using items from thrift stores.
“I selected pieces from the ’60s and ’70s, sanded the old finish and applied black paint to make the pieces look like they came out of the magazines. I did a lot of turning trash into treasure,” she says. Painting pieces one color makes unmatched furniture look new and coordinated. “Black paint hides a lot of flaws in furniture, and it looks up to date and works with any style of furniture.” Liz believes decorating a college space is important because it’s such a transition to move away from home for the first time. Having a space that’s nicely decorated helps a student feel at home. Design by swilt.
Tracy, a sophomore studying psychology at Suffolk County Community College, enjoyed being creative when it came to designing her college room. She even decorated her front door using hand-cut vinyl stickers to welcome visitors. The stickers added some punch and style to her plain white door. Design by iamapusherrobot.
Jenna and her roommate have shared a dorm since their freshman year. Jenna is now a junior studying design at the University of Washington, and she loves using her creativity and design skills to create her perfect dorm room. She decided not to buy dorm room accessories and instead worked with what she already had. “With some paint, paper and glue, I was able to personalize simple storage solutions to match our decor. And sewing matching pillows was a fun and easy way to give our bedding a customized look,” she says. Her biggest challenge was working with the existing furniture. “It’s all about finding the right accessories and clever ways to disguise the unattractive room you’re given.” She suggests checking out the room before decorating it so you know what you’re working with. Communicating with your roommate is also important so you don’t end up with two of everything, which makes the room too crowded for decorating. Design by jennag5.
This college bedroom at Texas A&M University has a calm, serene feel. The RMSer who designed the room wanted to have a soothing space that’s also eco-friendly. The bedding is made of organic bamboo and the pillows from recycled water bottles. A family member painted the leaf picture above the bed: a personal focal point and an ideal pop of color. Design by samantha0317.
Not Your Ordinary Dorm Room
Matt Rivera is an interior design student at the Fashion Institute of Technology and enjoys practicing his skills in his college living spaces — canvases that change every year. In this dorm he created a space to unwind and relax after a long day of classes. Even though he says it’s a challenge for him to express his style with housing restrictions, he’s able to create a space he loves. He believes you should embrace and utilize what you can. “Can’t put nails in the wall? Then your job just got easier because you don’t have to find big pieces to fill the room,” Matt says. “Keep things simple and small so that you can hang things with push pins. Believe it or not, these restrictions will help guide the style direction of your room. While you may not be able to personalize every aspect of your space, you can show off your ability to work with all the challenges.”
Matt says if you’re on a tight budget, you should stick to one dramatic change such as lighting. Typical lighting in a dorm room is fluorescent and can make the room feel cold and uninviting. “Remember, your dorm isn’t just a room: it’s your home for the rest of the school year.” Design by InteriorDesignMajor.
This Xavier University student knew she wanted chocolate-colored bedding for her first dorm room, and she wanted a peaceful space for relaxing. Some of the items used to decorate came from her friends’ and family’s homes. It’s as if she has a piece of her family with her at school, and it saves decorating dollars. Design by nu-awlinsnative.
Organization Is Golden
Caitlin Lee was a student at the College of Charleston when she lived in this dorm. She had a small budget, so she says looking for great finds was a must, and creating an organized space was key. To transform a dorm to fit your own style, she suggests looking beyond the typical dorm items found at department stores. Design by beaux1011.
College Living Redefined
Laura Kelly, a senior majoring in retail and consumer sciences at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, didn’t want to have the typical dorm room. She achieved her goal with soft lighting and calming neutral colors. What was her biggest challenge? “Not being able to paint. I love color in a room, so my biggest challenge was working around the stark white walls.” Laura’s tip to incoming freshmen: “Mirrors always open up small spaces and create the illusion of a larger dorm room.” Design by lkelly7.
If you love to paint but can’t paint the walls, you can still transform your dorm room into a place you love. The student who designed this dorm room hand-painted most of the wall decor, including the flowers on the mirror. Since she couldn’t paint the walls, she taped wallpaper on the wall for added color. The curtains were tacked on the walls, and she added sparkle to the pillows with flower hair clips. The entire room cost about $200. Design by collegecutie.
Jolly Green Wall
Casey Cole is a graphic design graduate from Finlandia University in Michigan. She already had a design in mind before moving in, and it involved bold color. “Color is the easiest and most cost-effective way to bring life to a room – especially a typical dorm room that is small, dark and dungeon-like,” Casey says. She bent the rules by painting a wall, so she suggests fabric if you can’t paint: “It is easy to install, change out and take down at the end of the year with minimal effort. At the same time, it makes a huge impact.” The biggest challenge she faced was designing the room to fit her style without ruining any of the furniture. She also suggests adding your own furniture pieces, shopping at thrift stores and making your own furniture. Design by designstar1216.
Abigail “Abbey” Moline, a junior in psychology at Northern Arizona University, created this colorful dorm room as a freshman. She enjoyed the decorating process but faced some challenges: “Storage is a challenge in small dorm rooms. Colorful storage bins are both practical for storage and aesthetically pleasing. I did raise my bed a bit to allow for more storage and made it into a daybed that I used as a couch during the day,” Abbey says. “My roommate did her own thing, but that was fine because even though they were different styles, they both reflected our personalities, which was cool. It’s so much fun to express yourself in any way you want, especially being a freshman and out on your own for the first time!” Design by susienoel.
Kick Back and Relax
Alyssa Myers is a recent marketing graduate of Messiah College in Pennsylvania. This was her junior year dorm room. She wanted to make the small room more functional by dividing up the space. She and her roommate created a cooking space, a study area, a sleeping area, a lounge and a dressing area to give the space a larger feel. “You don’t have to break the bank in order to have a great-looking room,” she says. “Scour the remnant sections at fabric stores to add color to the walls or to create a private sleeping area around your bed. Come up with unconventional uses for ordinary items: for example, a tension shower rod works great as a curtain rod.” Organization is also a key part in decorating a dorm room, she says. “If you need to have open storage, find a way to cover it, or conceal items in baskets or bins so as not to detract from your decor.” To create a more inviting space, Alyssa recommends adding plenty of lighting, including desk lamps, floor lamps and tabletop lamps. Design by alyssa_kelly.
Animal Print Meets Neon
Adding style to a dorm room is easy with a little color and an animal print. This student wanted a trendy dorm room, and she achieved it with the help of her big sister. Zebra-print bedding paired with lime green make this dorm room a fun, stimulating place to hang out. Design by kmccullough.
For college students who want to add instant square footage to their rooms, loft living is a great alternative. This student likes her loft bed because it creates additional space for a stress-free work area. She had themes in mind when she decorated: Paris and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Design by claireiepie.
A Home Away From Home
Cousins Shauna and Kelsy, juniors at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, wanted to incorporate both of their styles in their dorm room. They decided to find a common color among their things and go from there. “I have a lot of pink items, and Kelsy has a lot of blue, but we both also had brown. So we tied everything together using browns, tans and creams,” Shauna says. They didn’t like the look of the black metal bed frame, so they covered it with a privacy curtain to give the room a softer look. “If you’re on a budget, try using things you already have, or get creative with clearance finds. We used remnant fabrics and found accessories at discount stores and clearance racks,” Shauna says. Since they’re both studying art, Shauna and Kelsy decided to make art pieces that fit both of their styles. Design by kelsyandshauna.
Two Roommates, One Design
Sara Lawrence is a sophomore majoring in early childhood education at the University of Georgia. She and her roommate have the same styles and love the color pink, so they determined their design together. Sara’s favorite part of decorating was being creative and adding personal touches to her space. It wasn’t always easy, however. “The most challenging part of decorating my dorm room was adding enough color to the boring space. It was also hard to find the look we wanted while giving us enough room to store everything we needed,” Sara says, adding that organization is key in order to get the most out of such a small space. Design by slawrence727.