How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn’t Feel Like a Dorm

It’s no secret that living in a dorm can sometimes feel a little sterile. With furniture that is provided for you (whether you want it or not), limited space and storage options, and florescent lighting that’s unflattering at best, making a dorm room feel comfortable, liveable, and beautiful can feel like an insurmountable task.

I am currently a Junior in college and have lived in the dorms all three years of my college career. Having a restful, clean, and organized living space is really important to me, so it’s been my mission to create this type of space within my little dorm-home; I finally feel like I’ve achieved it!

Here are some of my tips for creating a really lovely space for yourself while you pursue your education:

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLINGHow to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

1. Organization and cleanliness are key.

The first step in making any space feel comfortable is to make sure it is clean and ordered. Since most students move multiple times within their college years, there is ample opportunity to de-clutter, re-evaluate belongings, and toss unneeded junk! Tidiness master, Marie Kondo actually talks about the the joy found through tidying up in the new Darling Issue 18! I resonate with the importance of organization and cleanliness because it truly does help me process life and studies in a clearer state of mind. When your room is clean and organized, you can then begin adding personal touches to make your space feel like home.

2. Quality fabrics are a must.

A great carpet, quality curtains, and adorable pillows help make an otherwise lifeless dorm room feel warm and comforting. These elements will infuse your space with a more permanent feeling as well, making a dorm room feel closer to an apartment! As you can see, I personally have a neutral and white-centric color theme in my room which creates a styled look. It’s also a good idea to flow with the color of the furniture provided in your dorm room. This helps your space look cohesive and less like you’re trying to fight against the pieces you are provided by your residence hall.

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

3. Use glassware.

I love making myself a fresh pot of french-press coffee in the mornings (when I have time, that is). Using glassware like this along with mugs, plates, bowls, and metal flatware help your all-in-one space feel more like a home where you’d enjoy comforts like these.

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

4. Fresh flowers, always.

I think every girl loves the words of Claude Monet, “I must have flowers, always, and always.” I’ve found that picking up a fresh bouquet of flowers every week or so helps infuse my space with a little extra life. Plus, this practice helps me to feel like I’m tending to that inner hostess even while I’m living in such a small space!

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

Hand cream provided by Grown Alchemist

4. Skip the overhead lighting.

Maybe it’s just me, but fluorescent lighting is essentially the worst thing that could happen to a room. I seem to always feel a bit more stressed and overstimulated when under a florescent lighting system.

In my dorm, these are just the type of lights the bedrooms are equipped with, but I never turn them on. I find that keeping a more natural, subtle lighting scheme in my room helps to keep the space feeling calm and relaxing. I do this by always having the blinds open for natural sunlight during the daytime and by using several lamps throughout the room that fill the room with a really restful light — simple!

I love that this also creates a natural progression from day to night time. By relying mostly on sunlight, my room is brightest in the mornings and gradually becomes dimmer by evening, which is definitely conducive to healthy sleep patterns — an essential for a busy college student.

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

5. Invest in permanent pieces.

My final piece of advice is to start investing in some more “permanent” furniture pieces. Although you probably won’t be able to bring in a large couch, sleek dining room table, or amazing arm chair, you can bring in smaller, yet more permanent pieces like a coffee table, side tables or nightstands, a bookshelf, even a nice desk chair. Again, these help ground the space and make it feel a bit more permanent.

Overall, the important thing to keep in mind while trying to make your dorm room feel livable is to create a space that you feel comfortable and serene in. Balancing classes, homework, relationships, jobs, and other responsibilities is exhausting to say the least. You need a space where you can slow down, unwind, and truly rest. Think of it like this: an investment in your living space is an investment into yourself. In a season of life that is often overwhelming, having a peaceful dorm room will help ground and center you as you press into your studies and launch into the rest of your life.

Best of luck, my fellow dormers — happy studying (and decorating)!

Images via Cassidy Boatright

Cassidy is the Visual Media Manager at Darling where she manages online visuals and Darling's social media channels. She's currently a Junior in college studying Business Administration. Cassidy is passionate about creating media that matters and that speaks to people's hearts in a beautiful and artistic way. Whether it's through photography, writing, graphic design, or music, Cassidy loves to bring a little bit of beauty to the world wherever she finds herself.

32 COMMENTS
  • Myla June 25, 2017

    Dear Cassidy where did you get the bed and the and the table in the middle of the room it just looks fab 🙂 you have such a pretty dorm

  • Kaelyn June 25, 2017

    Hi I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dorm! Where is the bed from I really want to put it in my room???

  • Robin McDonald June 22, 2017

    Great job on the dorm room! Very cheerful and chic. Like the investment piece idea- something you keep through college and beyond!

  • Robin McDonald June 22, 2017

    Great ideas- like the investment piece idea as these things make such a statement. Love how bright and chic the room turned out!

  • Anonymous June 2, 2017

    could you link these pillows?

  • mobilya modelleri May 9, 2017

    No matter if it is sprinkles, rhinestones, animal print or geometry shapes, nail art is something

  • Summer L. April 23, 2017

    Your dorm is so BEAUTIFUL!!!! where did you find the lamp on your table by your bed?? your dorm is so perfect!!

    • Cassidy May 21, 2017

      It’s from Homegoods! & thank you! x

  • Teresa April 21, 2017

    Hey Cassidy!!!!! I just fell in love with the lamp on your table next to your bed!!! do you know where you got it from? love, love your dorm!!!

    • Cassidy May 21, 2017

      Hey Teresa! It’s from World Market. & thanks! x

  • Paige April 20, 2017

    We’re did you get your side table with the basket under it? I am looking for one… Ps: love you dorm!

  • victoria April 19, 2017

    beautiful room! I was wondering were you got your pillows? They are so cute!

  • Tahni April 8, 2017

    Dear Cassidy,
    What college do you go to? This dorm is BEAUTIFUL!

    No worries if you don’t want to answer. I totally understand!

  • Sarah February 16, 2017

    Some great ideas.

  • Victoria February 12, 2017

    This is so gorgeous! My dorm room(s) never had huge, airy windows to bring in natural light. It was more of a prison cell, haha

  • Alicia February 11, 2017

    Great article! Where did you get the organizer on top of your desk? I love it!

    • Cassidy February 11, 2017

      Hey Alicia! Thanks so much! It’s actually just a shelf that I turned upside down from Hobby Lobby 🙂

  • Madeline Osigian February 10, 2017

    This is the prettiest dorm I have ever seen!!! And the best tips!

    • Cassidy May 21, 2017

      Thanks, Madeline! xo

  • Stephanie February 10, 2017

    Where is the desk pictured from? I’m obsessed and in need of a desk. This one checks off everything on my workspace wish list!

    • Cassidy February 10, 2017

      Hey Stephanie,
      Funny enough, this desk is part of the furniture provided for me in my dorm room!

  • Rachel February 10, 2017

    Beautiful room! Where did you find the wall folders you have hung next to your desk? I’ve been searching for something similar!

    • Cassidy February 10, 2017

      Thanks, Rachel! I got them a long time ago, but I believe they’re from Home Goods! x

  • Melanie February 10, 2017

    Yessss! Down with fluorescent overhead lights!! Those pillows are amazing. Masterful, Cass.

    • Cassidy February 10, 2017

      YES!!! Thank you, friend! x

  • Michelle A. February 10, 2017

    I love this idea is so important to consider it because is your spot your space!

  • Natalie Harney February 10, 2017

    Thanks for this, while I don’t live in a dorm, I do just have a room in a shared houses so a lot of the same problems arise

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

    • Cassidy February 10, 2017

      Glad I could be of help!! x

  • Are the photos really of a real-life dorm room? It looks like a dream!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • Darling Magazine February 10, 2017

      Yes! Cassidy’s real dorm room!

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