10 Tips For Creating Your Dream Dorm
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Student Life

10 Ways I Won My School's Dorm Decor Contest Without Being Basic

It's actually about more than fairy lights and tapestries.

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10 Ways I Won My School's Dorm Decor Contest Without Being Basic

When at college, your dorm room is as close to a home as you can get, so you might as well make it feel like home. It's more than fairy lights and tapestries, it's about making sure its a positive space where you are comfortable and relaxed. Here are my best tips on how to create your dream room!

1. Choose a color scheme or theme.

Choosing a color scheme is a great starting point for planning your dream room. It's a way to start thinking about what you like and what goes well together. Start by choosing a few colors that you like. Remember, you'll be seeing these colors every day, so they should be calm enough that you won't get sick of them or feel stressed out when you see them (neons are a bad idea, trust me). You want to choose a few main colors, as well as an accent color if you'd like. This will keep everything from being too monochromatic. If it's too difficult to choose a color scheme, start with a loose theme like bohemian, modern, or glam/luxury. I chose to go for a homey garden theme and decided on a color scheme of deep green, yellow, and a soft pink.

2. Stray away from matchy-matchy.

As nice as it is to have a color scheme, you also need to remember not to let it limit you. Allowing yourself to break the rules and think outside the box is part of what makes decorating fun. Think of your room like outfits in the family Christmas card pictures -- you'd want coordinating colors, not the whole family in the same exact outfit. Give your room some variety! Of course don't go too crazy far away from your designated theme or colors though, because that defeats the purpose

2. Create a focal point.

Alayna Gerald

This is easier than it may sound. Find something big, bright, and or flashy that will be the first thing that people see as they walk in. This could be a tapestry, your bold printed bedding, an art piece or poster that pops, etc. This past year I had what I called an Ivy wall. I was inspired by older homes that had ivy growing up the sides of them, and did my best to recreate this. I found a pack of fake vines of ivy on Amazon and hung them on the wall my bed was against. I finished it off with a long pack of super thin fairy lights which I intertwined with the ivy. The finished product? A glowing garden wall, and a definite focal point.

4. Command Strips...duh

Alayna Gerald

Anyone in college is no stranger to command strips, or the lecture you get from your RA every year about how much damaging the walls will cost you. As someone who basically hates empty wall space, I have quite the collection of command hooks. They come in many shapes, sizes, and strengths, so think about that huge art piece you have and make sure you get a heavy duty command hook (or multiple) that can hold its weight. The hooks themselves are reusable for next year, but you will have to repurchase the adhesive backing. In my room, I did what I called a collage wall, consisting of posters, small shelves, art pieces, light-up signs, and other knick-knacks. If you plan on covering most of your wall space like me, it's important to plan out where you want everything to go first to best understand how the spacing will work. Take your time in putting up the hooks and make sure nothing is crooked. One more tip with command strips is to buy them in the off season (AKA anytime other than back to school season), they're typically cheaper and in stock at these times.

5. Go thrifting. 

Alayna Gerald

Almost everything in this shot was thrifted (photo frames, plant pots & vases, pink bowl, some books)

While people often overlook the home section of thrift stores, it is my absolute favorite place to shop for decor. Thrifting is not just for denim jackets and mom jeans, you can find some amazing wall art and furniture there. It's different for everyone, how much it matters that the items are not brand new. I understand that some things are just nicer when new, especially if your theme is bright and clean. But thrifted items, art specifically, has so much character to it. The items have been loved and broken in, which can help create a homey environment. Even just looking in your closest thrift store will give you new ideas and help you think out of the cookie cutter. Some of my favorite things I've thrifted are my wall art, jewelry dishes, and picture frames.

6. Bring things from home

Alayna Gerald

I had to bring my favorite stuffed animal!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's easy to get so caught up in designing your perfect dream room that it begins to feel more like a Target ad than home. Bringing things you grew up with in your childhood room or even just in your house overall will create a sense of familiarity and coziness. So ask your mom if you can have one of the blankets from the living room or one of the family pictures on the wall. These are little pieces of home that will remind you of it everyday. Not to mention, it's less stuff for you to buy!

7. It's all about the lighting!

Alayna Gerald

Your room is more than a place to sleep. It can be a place to study, hang out with friends, or relax, and your fluorescent overhead light probably isn't the greatest thing for all of those situations. You can pick up a soft-lit lamp for when your roommate is asleep but you're cramming for an exam. And though fairy lights or Christmas lights may be clichè, they allow a much less harsh light which is great after a long day, for a romantic evening, or just for that ten-minute period of Instagram scrolling before you fall asleep.

8. Have multiple seating options.

Alayna Gerald

The more blankets and pillows the better!

The biggest dorm decor mistake I made as a freshman was the lack of seating options. I loved having people over but, with nowhere for them to sit, my bed became the place where people would cram. Not fun! Try looking for things like stools, ottomans, floor pillows. Of course your friends can always sit in your desk chair, but it doesn't quite say "comfy kickback" as much as a bean bag chair. This may not be as important if you don't tend to host, but if you do, you want your guests to feel as cozy as you do.

9. Don't deck out your dorm in college paraphernalia.

Alayna Gerald

Unless you're really passionate about your school, you don't need to hang your university's flag on your wall. It says nothing about who you are. You know what school you go to, and your friends that come over also know what school you go to, so why do you need to put it on your wall and see it every day? If you forget what school you go to, that may be a different issue!! Buy a sweatshirt if you must, but this is your room, not a billboard advertisement... put some personality into it! In my room, I had a tapestry with this really interesting artwork.

10. Stay true to yourself

Alayna Gerald

You know you best. Don't get so caught up in decor and glamor that no longer represents you. You can break any of the rules I gave you if it helps your room feel more like your room. It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to look like its from HGTV, it just has to feel like home, and make you happy!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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