It’s August, which means a mass exodus of college students, leaving the nest for their home-away-from-home for the next two semesters. The dorm room. What it lacks in style and size will require all your best decorating tools to make it seem homey.


In most dorm rooms, you have two options for seating – a really ugly desk chair and the bed. For your social butterfly, you may need to think about additional seating options for those late night…ahem…study sessions. A couple of options to consider are foldable saucer chairs or beanbags. Saucer chairs can be hidden away in a closet when not in use, and beanbags can be stuffed under the bed. This will maximize floor space while providing flexible options for company.


Storage is typically severely lacking in a dorm room. Small closets and small dressers often do not leave enough space for three seasons of clothes, plus all the other necessities that your student “must have.” If the dorm allows it, lofting the beds can create extra space with very little effort. Depending on need, you can put the bed high (equivalent of the top bunk of a bunk bed) to create actual living space underneath, like room for the dresser and desk, or a futon. Or you can raise it just a little, creating more space for under-bed storage. Color coordinated storage boxes can hide away extra sheets or out-of-season clothes, plus the inevitable dorm fridge can be discreetly tucked away under a slightly elevated bed.

If space allows, a cube-sized collapsible ottoman can provide hidden storage for magazines, books, or other sundries that your student might want handy, but does not want cluttering up the room. In addition to storage, the ottomans can do double-duty as a foot rest, side table, or nightstand.


Most dorms don’t have carpet, to make for easy cleaning and minimize the impact of inevitable spills. However, the industrial-style tile will likely not match anything your student plans to use for decoration. Add comfort and pull together the style with an easy-clean rug or carpet remnant. But don’t forget to also send along a small dustbuster or sweeper to keep the rug looking nice.


If you are handing with a sewing machine, you can choose almost any fabric to make a little privacy curtain to hide the area under a lofted bed, whether it’s just being used for storage or as living space. If you don’t have skill with a sewing machine, you can use store-bought curtains and adjust the length as needed with hot glue or double-sided seam tape. Be sure to use a tension rod to secure the curtains under the lofted bed – the RA may not take too kindly Dad drilling holes in the furniture.

Walls and Furniture

Let’s face it. Unless your student is lucky enough to score a brand new dorm, the dated and possibly downright ugly dorm furniture could make the room seem like a real bummer. Jazz it up those yucky desks and dressers with repositionable, peel & stick wallpaper. Avoid any papers that will leave a residue, as this could complicate clean-up when it’s time to move out. You may also want to check the dorm rules to make sure this is allowed.

If allowed, you can also use peel & stick wallpaper and decals to dress up the walls. Most dorms are pretty restrictive on anything that puts holes in the walls, so you may be able to add a splash of color with wallpaper. And stock up on Command Strips!

Always check first to see what’s allowed. You don’t want to waste money on things your student can’t use. So put those twinkle lights back on the shelf until you know for sure they are allowed.

Check here for inspiration and ideas!



A headboard might not be something you would think of as dorm necessity, but we are thinking creatively here. More than likely, there will be one of the few electrical outlets in the room hiding behind the bed. With this light-weight, no-nail headboard from PB Teen, you can make the outlet accessible right on the headboard for charging devices or late-night laptop charging, with the added bonus of adding a little panache to the room.

No matter whether you are empty-nesting or looking to expand for a growing family, we are here to help!  As always, if you or someone you know need help selling or finding a dream home in 2018, please do not hesitate to call us. Contact Jason at 703-298-7037 or Jason@JasonAndBonnie.com.

Image Credit: Army Corp of Engineers via Flickr (CC by 2.0)