Back To School: 5 Tips for Designing Your Dream Dorm

It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year- school is back in session! Today on the blog, get some easy, practical and budget-friendly tips from our designers on how to make your student housing a home away from home! To help you envision these tips, we’ve included some photos from the clubhouse of a local student housing complex we designed!


Scroll Through Social Media

Pinterest and Instagram are two invaluable resources when it comes to designing any space. Scroll through these apps and save any images that have a style, color, or pattern you like. Even saving images with elements you don’t like can be helpful in conceptualizing your design vision. From these images, you can easily find a style and color palette you like which will serve as the cornerstone for your overall design. 

Spotlight Your Bed


Due to the nature of student housing, your bed is going to take up the majority of your room. With this being said, go all out on your bed. Using mattress toppers on your bed will not only add padding but a welcoming aesthetic as well. 

Once you have these in place, it’s time to make a statement with your bed. The easiest and most cost-effective way to do this is through the bedding. There are so many sheets, comforters and pillows out there- don’t be afraid to be bold! Layering colors, patterns, and textures you love will result in a lavish bed that makes a beautiful statement piece.


Dress Up Drab Surfaces


Using the style of your bed as a framework, dress up your boring white walls. Consider using a removable wallpaper from Target or West Elm to add a timeless or playful feel, or make a gallery wall to showcase some of your favorite pieces of art or memories. 3M Command Strips are one of our go-to tools for hanging artwork without damaging the walls.

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Top left photo photo courtesy of West Elm

Top right photo courtesy of West Elm

Bottom left photo courtesy of Target

Bottom right photo courtesy of Target


Often boring walls are joined by a bland ceiling. Again, you could use a simple removable wallpaper on the ceiling as long as it doesn’t interfere with lighting or fans. If you have lighting or a fan on the ceiling, hang a tapestry from Etsy instead. You can also use swag pendants from World Market or string lighting over your bed. Buy an electrical cord swag kit from World Market and then add a fun lamp shade! Pendants and string lights help create a calming view as you stare at your ceiling thinking about all the homework you need to do.

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Photos courtesy of World Market


Odds are that your student housing doesn’t have very attractive floors. Good thing there is an abundance of beautiful, quality rugs that can fit with any style. We recommend checking Ikea or At Home for great options at a good price.



It’s no secret that Ikea has some amazing options when it comes to storage. Visit them at Polaris to walk through their many rooms and get ideas for organization. They offer various attractive pieces that double as storage; something you can never have too much of in a small space! Maintaining a good design requires good storage. Without proper organization, your beautiful design will be hard to spot under the mess. 

Here are some things to consider to help you prepare for keeping your student housing organized:

–       Where will I store my shoes?

–       Where can I put my backpack and books after class?

–       How can I store my food?

–       What will be the best way to store my clothes?

Also, do some research on organizational hacks- they are a lifesaver!



To pull together any design you need to accessorize. Some of our favorite accessories are lamps, plants, and books. Decorative lamps help disperse color throughout your room while also providing warm and relaxing lighting. 

Get some plants from Oakland Nurseries, Lowe’s or the Home Depot to bring in natural elements. Some of our favorites are succulents, cacti, and ZZ plants because they can survive when you forget to water them! 


Books are timeless accessories that are budget-friendly if you know where to shop. We love Half Price Books! Be sure to check out their clearance section and peel back the book covers to find quality hard-covered books. 

Most importantly, incorporate pictures and accessories that are significant to you and remind you of home. These help create a home away from home that will be a welcoming retreat for you throughout the whole school year.


Other Recommended Stores

Bed, Bath and Beyond

Pier 1

Home Goods


H&M Home

Vernacular Home

Check our Instagram to see more photos of unique clubhouse designs!

Further Reading