Decking Out a Dorm

Smart Ways To Outfit Your Home Away From Home

It’s that time of year again; colleges and universities will be starting their fall semesters in the coming weeks. We asked Lisa Cressman, a designer at Evenflow Interiors in Brick — and a mother of two college-age students — to share her top tips for furnishing a dorm room for both style and function.

Lisa Cressman, Designer
Evenflow Interiors LLC, Brick
732-458-9571 |

Closets: The majority of dormitory closets I’ve seen feature one side with a drawer stack and the other to hang clothes. We found that telescoping clothes hangers — which allow you to hang multiple pieces of lightweight clothing in minimal space — work well. Cute bins or baskets help to maximize storage of bedding and towels. Add hooks to hold accessories such as belts or scarves.

Under the Bed: Rolling bins make great use of the space under the bed. Even without raising the bed, were able to fit six of roll-out bins under a twin XL bed (standard dormitory size).

Toiletries: Rolling carts are a great way to keep everything consolidated, and they’re easy to transport to and from a shared bathroom. You can stock them with soap and shampoo and use really cute ball jars for cosmetics, cotton balls and wipes. This keeps every item organized by type, so everything has a place. I call this “organization within organization.”

School supplies: It’s also a good idea to use organizers in desk drawers, much like you would for cutlery, to keep school and art supplies orderly. You can find drawer organizers that stack and slide for easy access.

Use lots of color: I think students want their dorm rooms to feel as homey as possible. We found that color was the key to creating a warm, stylish space. In most college rooms, the base colors are muted and monotone. So we used furnishings — such as area rugs and bedding — with lots of color, very graphic designs or prints with beautiful scenery to liven up the space.

Accessorize open spaces: Many dormitory closets are simply alcoves without doors. To enclose the space, use a tension rod to hang a curtain that coordinates with the bedding. It’s a soft, fun look.

Add some soft sparkle: Twinkle lights around the room — framing windows, draped on the wall, hung over a headboard — will help to create a warm glow that’s a less-harsh alternative to standard dormitory lighting.

Let décor develop organically: Last year, my daughter used Post-It® notes as décor. After she used one, she stuck it to the wall. At end of semester, the entire wall was covered in perfectly aligned Post-Its. It’s those sorts of elements that give a dorm room character that’s unique to the student.

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