When students move away from home and into their first adult living space, they are generally so happy to have a new measure of freedom that design is the last thing on their minds. While this is understandable, it is not optimal.
When you have a space of your own that is designed properly it will help you focus on your studies and unwind at the end of the day.
Yes, it’s affordable even if you want it to be stylish and comfortable.
Anyone who has ever been inside a standard dorm room understands just how tight the quarters can be. The way they are usually set up with two twin beds and matching dressers can feel very institutionalized and even depressing. It is also not ideal for optimizing the limited space. By the time you add desks and a place to sit and read, it can be difficult to find room to walk.
One of the best ways to maximize space in a dorm room is to think vertically. An investment in a loft bed will save your sanity over the next four years. Once your bed is up off the floor you can now put a desk under the bed and have the same 21 square feet functionally doubled.
Continue thinking vertically for storage solutions. Over-the-door storage racks and pockets are invaluable for organizing everything from shoes to toiletries. Add a hutch over your desk to store school and office supplies. Finally, command hooks are invaluable when it comes to quick and easy vertical storage. Hang some next to the door to keep keys from getting lost, one near your bathroom supplies for towels, and even a heavy-duty version to hold your bag.
You will want to add a few more pieces to ensure you have a comfortable place to read, unwind, and socialize. This could be as easy as pillows on the floor but that would create mess when not in use. Consider seating that also provides storage such as a storage ottoman or storage bench to function as a place for people to sit and hide additional floor pillows. Companies like Home Living Furniture make it easy to compare your options and find exactly what will not only fit your space but also maximize it.
While you are designing the room, it is important to map out individual zones. Studies have shown the environment we create for ourselves has as much to do with success as our willpower or natural ability.
If you want to create a successful study experience, you need a study zone. This should be a peaceful, distraction-free environment for the deep work required by your college classes. Ideally, this would be where your desk is located. Facing away from distractions and accompanied by a noise machine or paired with noise cancelling headphones.
You also need a place to facilitate a full night’s rest. Obviously, this should be your bed but what that really means is making sure you are not multi-tasking while in bed. No social media, homework, or hours on the phone because then your brain won’t automatically associate the space with sleep and you will eventually find yourself staying up too late and waking up exhausted, rather than refreshed, for your first class.
Finally, you need a zone that gives you a mental break from constant work. This may mean a comfy chair for reading, a corner set up for gaming, or a clear space that is just for yoga.
Even in a small dorm room, it is possible to create separate zones. This will increase the functionality of the room and improve your overall college performance.
Temporary Decorating Hacks
If you want to add a lot of style with very little money, the two best resources are washi tape and vinyl decals.
Washi tape can be found at any craft store and comes in a huge selection of colors and seasonal themes. It can be used to decorate boring desk items such as the staple and pencil holder, but that is by no means the end of the functionality. Use it to frame light switches, add color to your MacBook charger, or add some holiday style to your door.
Etsy is a treasure trove of shops that create custom vinyl decals for less than you would spend on a framed poster. You can have something made to personalize the room or choose inspirational quotes and images to create a unique wall treatment. If you don’t want something custom, most craft stores and shops like Hobby Lobby have a nice selection that changes seasonally.
Your dorm room doesn’t have to be a mishmash of items thrown together while you suffer through four years of college. By investing a little time, money, and creativity when you first move in, it is possible to create a haven that will nourish and support you during one of the most transformative phases of your life.