Dorm-room decor: Designing an ideal home away from home

Faux fur, luxe, sophisticated and cosy themes in bedding are proving popular in dorm design this year, seen here at Bed Bath & Beyond. Photo: Bed Bath & Beyond for The Home Front: Dorm room design that lives longer than your time on campus by Rebecca Keillor [PNG Merlin Archive]


Decorating a dorm room to feel like a home away from home rather than an sterile grey box requires an approach that’s the same as when you’re decking out your first studio or apartment.

Decorating a dorm room to feel like a home away from home rather than an sterile grey box requires an approach that’s the same as when you’re decking out your first studio or apartment, says Bed Bath & Beyond’s Canadian university coordinator Joann Vellara.

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“This is essentially small-space living,” Vellara says, “so solutions that help them maximize their space, like slim-line hangers or under-the-bed storage or over-the-door storage, are essentials, and a lot of the things that we try to suggest live longer than their dorm room life, and translate well to downtown studio living after they graduate.”

The bed is the first place to start, Vellara says.

“The bed is definitely the focal point of the room and where they’re going to spend a lot of time, even if it’s just studying,” she says. “So it’s all about having a comfortable bed, not just for sleeping, but also for sitting and studying. Mattress toppers are great and mattress protectors are an essential.”

Vellara says most dorm beds at U.S. and Canadian universities have twin extra-long mattresses, so the protectors need to be sized accordingly and are often only available at this time of the year when students are heading to school.

“Another essential is a shower caddy because a lot of students don’t realize they need something to transport their belongings to the shower and back,” she says. “Also shower shoes to protect themselves.”

A surge protector is also a great idea, Vellara adds, given that with the number of electronics students use these days — from phone chargers to laptops, hair styling equipment, speakers and maybe even a kettle — there’s a need for more than one or two plugs and a need to protect the electronics.

She says the colours and patterns seen in dorm-room design this year include blues, greys, and whites, along with stripes and anything that seems cosy.

“Anything faux fur, sophisticated looks, cosy themes and a relaxed feel seem to be the styles trending this year,” she says. “It’s interesting how a little pop of colour and texture changes the look and feel of the room.”

When decorating a dorm room, it should be “comfortable, functional and flexible,” Ikea spokesperson Maja Boricevic says.

“For many students, affordability is a key factor and by using inexpensive artwork and accessories, toss cushions, duvet covers, bins and boxes, it’s easy to personalize a dorm room to reflect your own style,” she says. “Consider solutions that you can take away (if it’s going to the next dorm or house in between semesters) and don’t require drilling or screwing into walls, so things like posters, suction hooks, bath caddies and rolling carts are perfect for this.”

Organization, says Boricevic, is key.

“When everything is organized and has a place, it makes for a better functioning space,” she says. “You’ll have more time to dedicate to things like studying, sleeping and socializing, helps get you out the door in the morning faster, and it’s easier to find things you need when they’re available and easy to find.”

Clever storage solutions don’t need to be costly, says interior designer for Erin Davis Judkins.

“”An over-the-door organizer might be perfect to corral toiletries in the bathroom,” she says. “Also keep in mind that décor items translate to any space, so think about investing in items you love that will stand the test of time.”

Many of the same trends we’re seeing in home design are mirrored in dorm design, Judkins says, with a “strong influence of farmhouse, bohemian and hygge styles.”

“When creating a home away from home, especially for freshman, it makes sense that students are gravitating toward these cozier looks,” she says.

When it comes to bedding, Judkins says, students are going for a more personalized approach as opposed to one solid theme.

“Instead of ‘themes’ we’re seeing layers of texture and colour for a more mature, sophisticated look,” she says. “Think pin tuck bedding, chunky knit throws and kilim pillows. That said, we’re seeing playful touches like fairy lights, pineapple lamps, sassy sayings in the form of pillows and artwork, and the ever-classic cork board photo collage as decorative elements.”


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