Let your creativity shine, accessorize your dorm room

Each year, thousands of University students living in dorms have to create a cozy home for themselves within a confined space. According to Kyra Lovely, senior in Business and third-year resident adviser, one way students can ensure they utilize their dorm space well is to plan in advance.

“Knowing what you want your room to look like before you move in definitely helps,” she said.

Whether you’re planning on living in the dorms again next year or ready to revamp your current dorm room, here are some tips for planning the arrangement and decor of a dorm room:

Arranging furniture:

You should arrange dorm room furniture in a way that takes up as little space as possible to allow for extra storage and living space.

—Separate your dorm room into specific living areas. For example, you can have beds on one side of the room, desk space on the other and a mock kitchen in the corner.

—Loft or bunk your bed. If you live in University Housing and wish to have beds lofted, you can place a building maintenance request at www.housing.illinois.edu. Lofting one or more beds allows for greater desk and dresser space below the bed. Television sets can also be placed in the spaces underneath lofted beds. Bunking the beds or arranging them in a lofted L-shape leaves more space for other furniture as well.

—Bring portable furniture pieces. Ottomans, futons and collapsible, comfy chairs allow a place for both visitors and residents to relax and can be easily moved.

—Do not be afraid to provide alternative dorm essentials. Some students replace their desk chairs with comfier chairs, or install their own makeshift curtains. These touches further personalize your dorm.

—Decorate your dorm with mirrors. Mirrors on doors or walls create the illusion of greater room depth.

—Stack, stack, stack. To maximize space, stack things on top of one another — such as the microwave on top of the mini-refrigerator or the shelving unit on top of the dresser.


Having a color scheme and decorating your dorm with personal items can create a cozier, more home-like atmosphere.

—Coordinate with your roommate(s) to decide on a color scheme. It does not have to be strictly followed; rather, the theme should be a loose guideline for buying dorm items. This way, the room is generally cohesive.

—Bring frames or homemade photo collages of friends and family and hang them up with Command strips. Simply taping your pictures directly to the wall is another option.

—Hang up posters of favorite bands, movies, quotes and more. To really make the dorm personal, try to leave as little white space as possible (without the walls looking tacky, of course).

—Adorn your room with strings of lights. Some students drape lights across their windows, wrap them around their bed frames or tape them to I-beams that crisscross their ceilings.

—Bring lamps. Standing lamps or small desk lamps are alternatives to the bright, fluorescent ceiling lights in the dorms. Also, clip-on lamps that can be attached to headboards are useful for when your roommate is going to bed and you want to keep reading.

—Warm the room with a rug. University Housing offers installation of custom-fit rugs for $74.95 or $109.95, depending on the size of the room. These rugs come in light blue, grey, green, beige, navy, black and burgundy. You can also buy your own throw rug.

—Bring fluffy throw blankets and pillows to accessorize your bed.

Finding and capitalizing on storage space:

Organizing a room for general storage space can be difficult, especially with bulky books and school supplies. Sometimes it works to store away things you do not use on a day-to-day basis and keep those that you do use as accessible as possible.

—If you do not use a certain toiletry every day, put it in the back of your closet or drawer. If it is something you need to use every day, such as lotion or deodorant, place it out on a shelf that it is easily accessible.

—Store all food items together near the mini-refrigerator and microwave. In this same way, keep all school items together within the same vicinity as your desk.

—Utilize closet space as much as possible. Additional storage containers can be placed in the closet to act as extra dresser drawers. You can use closet hooks to hang sweaters, belts, bags and hats.

—Shoe organizers of any kind are essential. Some can hang over the insides of closet doors while others can slide underneath beds.

—Put your hamper in the back of your closet. You will not need to retrieve it until you do laundry, so it is OK if it is difficult to pull out.

—Bring a small washtub to carry dishes to the bathroom to wash. It also functions as a place to put your wet shower caddy.

Overall, your dorm will be what you make of it. Creativity is central to maximizing and personalizing dorm space, and it often takes experimentation.

Bridget is a freshman in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]