8 Tips to Make Your Dorm Room Functional and Relaxing

Minimal dorm room with shelf over bed

Design: Meme Hill Studio / Photo: Kristin Lynn Photography

Dorm rooms have several big responsibilities. They're meant to be your own personal hub for studying, working, relaxing, and socializing, but in a place often limited by square footage and decorating rules, it can be difficult to combine all of these aspects into one tiny room and keep it functional.

It might feel frustrating walking into one of these empty cement boxes, but think of them as blank canvasses ready to be morphed and melded. With a few inspirational images and handy tips, it can be just as personalized as your room back home (or at least close to it). These tips will transform stuffy dorms into sanctuaries conducive to late-night study sessions and cozy enough for getting a good night's sleep.

  • 01 of 08

    Look Under the Bed

    Bright and airy dorm

    Chloe McCabe / Instagram

    Storage can be found in many unique places in dorms, including under the bed. Replace the standard drawers or the bins already in the room with stylish baskets to make the space feel more like you and much more home-like. The different sets of drawers and baskets in this dorm are neutral, but the slightly beige tone helps warm the space up.

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  • 02 of 08

    Add a Curtain Wall

    Clean, minimal dorm room

    © benny rebecca and © studio_benedetto / Instagram

    The cold and sterile concrete walls of a dorm are pretty standard across many college campuses, and while painting may not be an option, it's still possible to hide them. A curtain wall quickly camouflages and solves the sterile atmosphere that the walls emanate and instantly cozies up a dorm. It's a simple solution and can even be done temporarily with an extendable tension rod.

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  • 03 of 08

    Stick With a Spacious White Palette

    Clean and white dorm room

    Design: Meme Hill Studio / Photo: made by k.

    It's no secret that dorms are typically tiny, but that's where the power of illusion comes in. With the right patterns and color palette, a cramped space can instantly feel bright and airy, as seen here. A playful wallpaper can help break the room into sections while still maintaining the flow and openness. Additionally, an accent rug is a brilliant way to cover up not-so-cute carpeting or cold, hard floors.

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  • 04 of 08

    Choose a Serene, Relaxing Theme

    Blue dorm room theme

    livinwithiz / Instagram

    Colors can have a big impact on how a room feels, and more importantly, how you feel while being in it. This space is a shining example of how restorative and tranquil a blue space can appear. Coordinate artwork, pillows, and bedding to craft a space that will instantly helping you decompress upon entering. If your dorm or apartment allows for painting, take advantage of this and choose a shade that brings you joy or a sense of calm.

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  • 05 of 08

    Cozy Up Your Workspace

    Pink and minimal dorm room

    a.k.everyday / Instagram

    Just because long study hours take place at your desk doesn't mean it has to look and feel blah. Since so much time is spent in this area, take some time to add special touches and items that'll keep you focused and comfortable. Creating a desk space with functional items, like a lamp and organizational drawers, can be paired with personal touches like artwork, letter boards, or well-cushioned seating.

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  • 06 of 08

    Keep Staples Close By

    Minimal dorm room with shelf over bed

    Design: Meme Hill Studio / Photo: Kristin Lynn Photography

    Limited space calls for creative storage, and this room shows exactly how that can be done without creating unnecessary clutter. A narrow shelf over the bed won't be obtrusive and is a perfect way to blend both decor accents and must-haves like books, speakers, and nighttime routine products together. This room also shows how an open white space can still feel cozy with a few perfectly-placed throw pillows and a fluffy blanket.

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  • 07 of 08

    Pick Double-Duty Furniture Pieces

    Colorful and bright dorm

    berymlk / Instagram

    Dorm rooms aren't typically the most spacious housing situations. This means multipurpose furniture is key. A bookshelf can double as a TV stand and a shelving unit works wonders as a bedside table. Picking coordinating pieces and keeping them tidy will maintain a cohesive bedroom. To really liven up your room, take a page out of this dorm's book and add a plant or two for a calming touch of greenery.

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  • 08 of 08

    Color Coordinate the Whole Space

    Pink themed dorm room/apartment

    Jenny Reimold

    Consistency is key to transforming a dorm from a replica of every other room in the hall to something that feels just like you. This college living situation has pretty bursts of pink on the walls, bed, and even the carpet to create a well-put-together theme. Too many colors or not settling on one theme can make things feel a little erratic and neither relaxing nor well organized.