Dorm Room Design

One of my designers has THREE kiddos heading off to college this year, and has been shopping like a mad-woman to get their spaces well appointed and organized. This inspired me to share some ideas for how to outfit a dorm room for maximum aesthetics AND functionality…ahem, “glamorously functional” (whether for a son or daughter). Because each college has a variety of floorplans and sleeping arrangements (from a semi-private room to bunk beds), we are keeping the ideas applicable to all. No discrimination here.

First is an organizational trick that I thought I made up when I purchased my very first house: the over the door shoe rack. The brilliance is NOT to use it for shoes, but for anything. I used mine for extra makeup, first aid and toiletries. Guess I wasn’t so original, because this idea is all over Pinterest now. The style below is my fave because you can see through the pouches.


via The Container Store

And PBTeen has these awesome bedding sets, that includes the comforter, pillow sham AND sheets. I can be a little particular about my pillow, so I understand why they don’t include that. Instant style is added to the space (provided the college student actually makes their bed).


via PBTeen

I am NOT getting paid by PBTeen for this post, but once I was on their site, I found all sorts of ideas that I would totally implement if my kid were heading off to school. Heck I almost wish I was sending him off, so I could design the space. (Not really – I’ll gladly hold on to him the next two years tightly!) Check out these trunks. Wouldn’t they be awesome as storage at the foot of a bed? Or if the bed is more daybed-ish, as a sort of coffee table?

PB Teen

via PB Teen

Yes, I am sticking with PBTeen, because what mom wants to run all over the place shopping? Why not click through and just order everything from one website and then go have a glass of wine and a manicure with all of the extra time you just saved? So here is one more idea from them:

A dry erase board decal. It would probably have to go on the inside or outside of a door, to ensure the surface was the smoothest. That would work great for my favorite son, as a place to write reminders before he walked OUT that door.

PB Teen

via PB Teen

Next, we are on to Ikea for this naked, pine three drawer chest. I love it because you can easily paint it any color to coordinate with the room’s overall color scheme. This is nice, especially since some dorm rooms don’t allow painting the walls so you can bring some personality in. I would also add a coat of polyurethene to give it a nice, shiny coat. It’s small enough to use as a nightstand or to put IN the closet for added storage.


Finally, a rug for underfoot. I would probably opt for an outdoor rug for inside the dorm room, especially for their freshman year. After all, nobody is going to be around to clean up after them, and an outdoor rug can literally be sprayed down. Plus, they have come a long way in respect to their comfort on bare feet AND if you want a little more cozy factor, just get two rug pads for underneath. I am really digging on cabana stripes right now.



That’s it for now. And those are just the basics but will make your college student’s dorm room feel a little more adult-and-home-like, while also providing function and good looks. So both of you can rest easily while they are away. Well, maybe not much rest on either part – but at least you’ll both know their room will look good.

Once you get their room set up in the next few weeks, drop me a line and let me know if you used any of the ideas above and what other brilliant solutions you came up with!

We put the FUN in Glamrously Functional Design News!

If you would like a copy of the This Old House article “11 Foolproof Decorating Ideas” (which quotes Michelle Lynne), subscribe to our GLAM FUN DESIGN NEWS and we will send it to you as our FREE gift.