Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dorm Decor

"Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style."
-Billy Baldwin

One of my favorite things about being in college is that every year I get a new space to decorate (although it's inevitably filled with the same uninspired furniture and plain white walls). Last year I lucked out with an enormous single with high ceilings and a big window (perks of being an RA). I sectioned off a little study nook, created a kitchenette (full of fruit bowls, pantry shelves, spice racks, fridges, freezers, cutting boards, frying pans, dinnerware, etc.), splurged on a cozy bedspread with ridiculously expensive pillows, set up a workout corner (complete with a yoga mat, a bench, a set of dumbbells, a barbell, a medicine ball, a stationary ball, and a resistance band), made the most out of the spacious walk-in closet, and had enough room leftover to place a big potted plant in line with the natural light. I loved this set-up, but having my whole life inside my room didn't exactly force me to leave my lair as often as I should have.

Since I'm somewhat of a hermit, it's very important to me that I feel at home in my home-away-from-home. I always start looking early for decorating ideas (which always involve a couple of new items to spruce up my stock from last year), easy DIY projects, and things I can borrow from home (!).

Some Decorating Ideas:

1. Embrace large empty wall spaces (which I often find to be impossibly intimidating) by hanging up a big print, putting up a few framed collages, grouping together a smattering of smaller paintings, mounting a chalkboard (which can double as a larger-than-life calendar or as an erasable post-it note!), stringing up a girly garland, or sticking up an eye catching wall decal.

Chandelier Decals, from Blik

2. Use area rugs to break up a uniform space (I'm on the lookout for a simple rectangular rug for under my bed and a cute circular rug for under my desk chair). If I can't find rugs that aren't going to break my budget, I'm not going to be too quick to rule out these.

3. Invest in a small clothing rack to showcase your favorite pieces and inspire future outfits.

Clothing Rack, from Emily at Cupcakes and Cashmere

4. Take a leaf out of Real Simple's book and think of new uses for old things: Instead of letting a drying rack collect dust when it's not in use, use it as a display for colorful and fluffy towels. Use the rungs on a wooden ladder to exhibit sky high pumps and strappy sandals.

Wooden Shoe Ladder, from Pottery Barn

5. Have a few glass vases, jars, and bowls on hand - they look great filled with fruit, flowers, sand, shells, seaglass, marbles, pencils, etc.

6. Don't spend a lot on a bedside table! Glue a multicolored tray with different compartments on top of a plain wooden card table for instant & easy organization, or check out some local thrift shops/flea markets for a stack of vintage suitcases and a mirror to make your own nightstand.

Creative Nightstand, from Emily at Cupcakes and Cashmere

7. Dress up a windowsill with small potted plants (I plan to buy herbs that I use in the kitchen: parsley, basil, thyme, dill, and sage).

8. Soften harsh overhead lighting (or brighten up a dark room) with table and floor lamps.

9. Treat yourself to fresh flowers (or go picking for wildflowers!) once a week. Nothing adds cheer to a room like a mixed flower bouquet.

Garden Roses, from Rachel at Heart of Light

10. Buy nice storage containers...because chances are, you won't have much extra room for a "junk drawer" and you won't be able to find a bedskirt long enough to hide all of the miscellaneous stuff you'd usually shove under your bed.

11. Have someone handy help you install wall mounted shelving for additional storage...I especially like the idea of using corner shelves to make the most of an otherwise useless small space.

White Corner Shelf, from

11. Cover one wall with fabric wallpaper that won't damage the wall (see instructions here). This may or may not be a fire hazard - but I don't have to lead by example anymore!

12. If you can carve out space for a loveseat or a sofa, do it. Capitalize on any chance you have to minimize the "dorm room" feel (for me this means trying not to use posters)! Having a small couch around also invites your visitors to sit and stay awhile...just not on your bed.

13. Make it personal (meaning pick out pieces that reflect you, not a magazine spread)...I'd love to have this fork and this spoon hanging in my kitchenette, an old-fashioned cookie jar to house my sweets, an oversized "H" to prop up on a floating shelf, and a nice sketch of a pair of running shoes suspended in my workout corner. I'd also love...

This Pesto Sign

This Garden/Market Calendar

Intriguing DIY Projects:

1. How to make wine crate display boxes

Wine Crate Display Boxes, from Grace at Design*Sponge

2. How to make a floating vase

Floating Vase, from Emily at Cupcakes and Cashmere

3. How to make a necklace organizer

Necklace Organizer, from Anna at In Honor of Design

4. How to make a clothespin mirror

Clothespin Mirror, from Katie at Design*Sponge

5. How to make a framed chalkboard 

Framed Chalkboard, from Rachel at Heart of Light

6. How to use fabrics and frames to make budget-friendly wall art

Wall "Art", from Emily at Daily Garnish

Something Borrowed:

1. My mom has hundreds of "coffee table books" (you know, the kind of books you may or may not have ever really read but have appealing covers or sentimental value) that would look perfect stacked or slanted in a bookcase, or sandwiched between two antique bookends.

Coffee Table Books

2. I also have my eye on a couple of my mom's wooden baskets (which we use to hold napkins, fruit, magazines, gardening supplies, notepads, recipes, etc.).

3. Last year she let me snag one of her matted and framed watercolor paintings to hang above my baker's rack...I loved catching a glimpse of this little piece from home while I chopped up veggies and perused through my pantry.

4. We've been using old glass bottles and jars as makeshift vases lately - and I'd love to have one full of flowers on my desk at school.   

Vintage Milk Bottle Vases, from The Traditional Flower Company


  1. I love this! Thanks for all the awesome tips. I might use some just in my own bedroom :) I love the suitcases that are stacked up as a night stand it's adorable!

  2. I love DIY! this is all useful to decorate our new home. And i will use your tips here.

  3. i like the floating vase ... very attractive and safe at the same time...
    Thank you for sharing this brilliant ideas..

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