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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Designing Your Dorm Room

August 11, 2015

It’s almost time for the kiddos to be headed back to school, and for some of you, this means it’s about time to move into your very first dorm room. Dorms can be tricky spaces to navigate. Not only is it your very first time to live away from home, but it may also be your first time to share a room. With these changes coming up quickly, we put this dorm room guide together to alleviate stress and worry, and offer functional design tips for your brand new home away from home.

Scroll to the bottom to see our dorm room design and to shop this post for your dorm! 

– Optimizing your small space –

1. Under-bed storage will save you. Utilize as much as you can, as effectively as you can, by using labeled baskets or bins to organize shoes, supplies, toiletries, etcetera.

2. If you aren’t given shelving, hang wall baskets to organize your textbooks, binders and notebooks. This way they don’t take up much needed desk and floor space.

3. Purchase a surge protector. Your dorm room will probably not have enough outlets for your laptop, printer, hairdryer, straightener and lamp to be plugged in all at once.

4. Don’t bring your winter clothes from home on your move in date if you can avoid it. Your closet won’t be big enough to hold your entire wardrobe, and you might have to share what little space you do have. For move-in, just bring your summer clothes and a few light sweaters for cold classrooms. Switch out your wardrobe when you go home for, say, homecoming, or closer to cooler months.

 – Get creative! –

We understand you want your space to be something you’re proud of, but sometimes not-so-perfect dorm furniture is unavoidable. For example, if you really hate the desk that comes with the room, and would rather use yours from home, great! Some dorms will allow you to store their desk in a storage closet. But if your dorm doesn’t offer this service, just work with what you have! With some creativity, whatever you’re given can be turned into something cute. Plus, every single person on your hall has that exact same 1970’s desk!

– Share your space –

Sharing a space can be tricky in tight quarters, especially if you aren’t used to having a roommate. Don’t panic when your roommate’s bright, floral bedding doesn’t coordinate perfectly with your simple white duvet on move-in day. Unless you’re rooming with your best friend, your decor will likely not match up perfectly with your roommate’s. This is okay and completely normal. If it’s really important to you to match, your dorm would probably be happy to put you in touch with your roommate, so y’all can chat about who’s bringing what. This also potentially gives you an opportunity to meet up beforehand and get to know each other.

 – Keep it simple –

As far as dorm design tips, we suggest keeping it clean and simple. Create a space that lends itself to studying and relaxing. A ton of posters, wall decor, and your giant high school photo collage could become chaotic in a small space, so we suggest leaving most of it at home. Pick a few of your favorite photos of your friends and family and hang them on a piece of twine, like we did, or hang them in frames by your desk. Choose a simple comforter set, a fun throw and pillows, and a simple rug. Incorporate your favorite books by propping a candle or mug on top of them stacked, or add pretty magnetic boxes to a magnet board to hold your pens and pencils, or coffee supplies, as we did. Transforming something functional into a design element is the key to nailing your dorm room decor.

– Be respectful of the room –

Some dorms are stricter than others, but it’s important that you’re respectful of the rules. Know that there are usually secondary options if something isn’t permitted. For example, if nails aren’t allowed in the walls, use Command hooks. If candles are a no-go, get a candle warmer. If you aren’t allowed to have a microwave in the room, there is probably one provided in the dorm for everyone to use. Trust us, you don’t want to be the girl who set off the fire alarm at 3 a.m. because you burned popcorn in your illegal microwave.

For our Dorm Room Design, we kept it simple and cute while bearing in mind that the space would need to be clean, calm and functional.

Remember to have fun, call your mom and study hard. Living in a dorm can seem, at times, less than desirable, but there won’t be another time in your life that you live on the same floor as 100 of your closest friends. Enjoy!

Be sure to tag @magnoliamarket and use the hashtag #magnoliamarket in your Instagram pictures of our Market items in your dorm room!


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  • Anna
    10:16 am, May 7, 2017
    Where is the bedding/throws from?
  • Grace
    3:44 pm, September 10, 2016
    Love it!! Where are the throw pillows and blanket from?
  • Maura
    6:42 am, October 8, 2015
    I agree! I would love some direction on really making my home office my own
  • Sarah Alves
    10:09 am, August 18, 2015
    Love this post! Have y'all considered doing a similar post on how to spruce up a more traditional office space? I work in public relations at a non-profit in Waco and would be willing to offer up my space to you! Lots of natural light with an already neutral color scheme... Just a thought! ;)

    -Sarah Alves
  • Emily
    12:23 pm, August 17, 2015
    is this a Baylor dorm room?
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