Special SectionsDIY HGTV: Tips to channel your inner interior designer

Whether you study or socialize in your dorm, make your living space your own
Alejandra GerlachFebruary 27, 2020743 min
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Illustration by Ren Rader

Decorating your dorm can be hard, even if you regularly watch HGTV. As college students, our interior design is restricted by time and energy, small dorm spaces and a smaller budget. The following are some practical tips and tricks to make your space feel more like home, and they work for apartments too!

Function Over Form

First things first, before you can start decorating and personalizing your space you need to make sure it’s functional for how you use it. Figure out what you primarily use your room for and arrange your furniture in a way that is conducive to your daily routine.

Study Space

Do you use your dorm as a study space? Keep your desk clear so that you have plenty of space to get work done. This means not using your desk for storing anything that you don’t regularly use while studying. Instead, use the space under your bed to store things that you don’t need to have access to on a daily basis.

Limit what you keep on your desk. A lamp, a cute coaster, colorful sticky notes and a pen holder are all examples of small, functional ways to personalize your desk and while keeping it clear. Try to incorporate elements of blue and green into your decorations: green inspires creativity, while blue has a calming effect. Natural light is also great for study spaces!

Cozy Corner

Maybe you study in the library, and your dorm is where your squad likes to hang. Try designating an area for chilling! You can use an area rug to create a distinction between your socializing space and your sleeping area and to provide a comfy place to sit. You can also include folding chairs or ottomans — which double as storage space — for additional seating.

You might want a TV so that you can host movie nights or play video games, but those can be expensive. Try a mini-projector instead! They’re cheaper and all you need is an HDMI cord (which should come with the projector) and a blank wall for the same effect.

Signature Style

While it’s important that your space is functional, it’s also important that your space feels like a place where you want to be. This is where your personal touch comes in. Simple design decisions can make a room look spacious and inviting or claustrophobic and uncomfortable.

Curtains

While there’s nothing wrong with the blinds that come pre-installed in our dorms, they’re not exactly stylish. Curtains are a simple fix that can provide you the same (or more) privacy with added pizzazz, and if you get floor-length curtains, it makes the ceiling look higher and the room feel bigger. They don’t have to be a big investment! Check out the options at Wal-Mart, Marshalls or Amazon and see if they have anything you like.

Tapestries

No one likes empty walls, and there are a ton of ways to fill that space. It’s hard to go wrong with a tapestry. They make the room feel less empty and help express your individual personality. Plus, they don’t take a lot of effort to put up!

Posters

The same idea as tapestries, except that you can have more of them! Posters are a great way to show off your interests and are very cheap. You can even cut calendar pictures and pin them up or frame your poster to give your room a sophisticated feel. I’d recommend playing around with the placement of your posters to see what looks good.

Plants

Plants can bring new life to a space! Small succulents and cacti are low maintenance and super trendy. Just be aware that they need a lot of light, so take note of which way your windows face. If your room has north or south-facing windows, make sure that you get low-light plants or fake ones. If you’re OK with spending, you might want to take a look into buying a small terrarium.

Lights

Depending on your aesthetic, you may want to get twinkle or LED lights for your room. Not only are these lights great for setting a mood, they draw the eye upwards, making the ceiling look higher. Be careful though! Low-hanging lights or dark colors can actually end up making the space feel smaller and more claustrophobic.

Throw pillows and blankets

These are great for making a space feel warmer and inviting (plus, throw pillows can be extra seating), by adding some color to the walls of your dorm. Try leaning into the color trend for 2020! The trend is characterized by muted shades, but don’t think dull! Muted colors are versatile: they can be soft (lighter shades), deep (darker shades) or sophisticated (neutral tones). Experiment and play around!

At the end of the day, your dorm should be a place where you want to spend time and that expresses your own unique style and flair! Decorating can be a daunting task, but remember to keep it simple and fun and you can’t go wrong.

Alejandra Gerlach

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