Secrets to Dorm Room Organization and design Ideas


My husband and I just returned home from dropping my daughter off for her second semester of living away at college. She is our youngest of three and was a newly enrolled freshman at college in Rhode Island this past September. When we initially moved her into her dorm room she and two other roommates occupied a small suite style dorm room. Much to the contrary, this semester our daughter is occupying the same space but this time as a single as both roommates decided to transfer.

As I reflect back, I recall that preparing for our daughter’s move to college was one of mixed emotions. Being an interior designer and woman who loves to shop I really enjoyed the opportunity to be part of the design process. Multiple outings collecting essentials for move-in day all meant opportunities to spend time together and grab lunch. On the flip side, as the guest bedroom filled up with all her college necessities, the idea of her leaving became very real.

Each stage of life is a learning experience and arranging and moving in our daughter to college was no different. Prepared with every imaginable item necessary to decorate and organize her dorm room, we arrived on move in day, with our SUV packed to the brim with just enough extra space for my husband to drive the car and my daughter and I to squeeze in as passengers.  Our vehicle reflected our belief that too much is better than not enough. For me, as a professional interior designer, when I prepare a home for the final reveal day, I always arrive over prepared. I can always return what I don’t use. With that being said, when we landed at the university and finished unloading, my daughter and I stood beside her pile of belongings a bit self-conscious of the volume. Taking a deep breath, I assured my daughter that our due diligence would pay off as we were more than prepared for any room configuration presented to us. As suspected, we had plenty of options to perfectly complete her room with extra to share.

Our Daughter’s room


Our Daughter’s Desk Area

Daughter's Desk Area

Through this journey with our daughter I came to understand that when decorating a dorm room it is essential to create a space that is meaningful to the student! For most teens it is the first time they will live away from home.  This is an opportunity for them to truly express who they are and how they want to live. Bedding, blankets, throw pillows, wall décor and accessories should all be chosen to reflect the personality of the student. Keep comfort in mind and create an oasis that is cozy and inviting. Personal photos arranged in the room are a great decorating idea for the child to stay reminded of and connected to their family and friends. Organization is also imperative! Studies show that by practicing effective organization skills it can improve happiness and foster solid relationships.  An organized life is shown to reduce stress and anxiety, help you eat better, improve sleep, boost productivity and help you prioritize and manage your time. Start your student off on the right foot and give them the appropriate tools to organize their space. Arrive well-prepared ready for any scenario. 

For our family, being overly prepared with various storage options meant we didn’t have to shop on move in day when inventory was low and stress levels were high. From our selection of purchases, we were able to choose what worked and return what did not. Keep in mind that space is often limited so take advantage of the vertical real estate. If the opportunity is available, loft or raise the bed off the floor and make the most of the extra storage space. Use desktop bookcases to provide additional area for books and accessories. Hanging closet organizers, storage drawers, baskets and bins all work well for storing extra clothing and shoes. Drawer dividers are a great way to maximize space in small desk drawers. Hanging jewelry racks provide minimal wall space and assist girls with organizing necklaces and bracelets. Shower caddies for both males and females are essential for housing and transporting beauty products to and from the washroom. Bedside hanging organizers can be helpful for keeping necessary items close at hand while lounging and studying in bed. And if space permits, consider a food station area for organizing snacks and drinks. Well wishes for a seamless transition!