Washburn University freshman and art education major Ella Prengel may have moved away from home and into the dorms this fall, but she took pieces of home with her and incorporated them into her dorm décor.
“When I was deciding how I was going to decorate my dorm room, I definitely thought about how my room was at home, so I have a lot of my art stuff, pictures of my friends and stuff that reminds me of home,” she said.
Prengel lives in a suite, which consists of two sleeping spaces that house two students each, with an adjoining shared bathroom, a configuration that many universities are adopting as they remodel dormitories built in the 1950s and 1960s to meet the needs of modern students.
After being quarantined for the first two weeks of the school year, Prengel said she and her suitemates were eager to get settled into their new space and decorate.
“Decorating was about reflecting my personality — bright colors, butterflies on the ceiling,” she said. “I want my side of my room to be something I can go back to and feel comfortable in.”
Prengel isn’t alone in her desire to create a space that feels like home away from home. Dorm design, furniture and accessories are big business for retailers each August, and new trends emerge every year for the hottest items in dorm living. 2020 is no exception.
Textures in pillows, rugs and bedding are very popular this year. Shag and fur pillows adorn extra-long twin beds, and velvet has made a comeback in the college scene in the form of comforters and curtains.
On the color front, ombre gradients and retro mini-appliances like microwaves and refrigerators in bright colors saw a surge in sales, along with the industrial look popping up in student desks, chairs and lamps made with industrial pipe and pipe fittings.
Succulents, both real and faux, are making appearances in textile designs and artwork but also provide an easy-care option for students who want to bring a little nature indoors.
By far, the biggest dorm design trend of 2020 has been the boho chic movement, which incorporates natural elements, colors, patterns and textures. Macramé is back in a big way, and not just to hold plants. The distinctive texture is being used in comforters and pillows. Wicker, fur, feathers and live edge furniture like desks and end tables are showing up on campuses across the country.
Because of the space limitations and other challenges that dorm design brings, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with the choices available, but the truth is, functionality and versatility should be at the center of design decisions.
Start with an inspiration piece. A bedspread or comforter, artwork, rug or color palette provides a starting point for design inspiration. Use your inspiration piece to build your room, pulling in colors or designs to coordinate.
One large, oversized rug has a bigger impact than smaller throw rugs, tying the design concept together and providing warmth from cold tile floors.
Removable adhesive vinyl is one way to add color to your space without the permanence of paint. Just be sure to check the label for removability and test it out on a small area before committing it to a larger surface. Spruce up drawer fronts, other furniture or closet doors.
Maximize your space. When it comes to dorm living, making the most out of the space you have is key. Clean lines and minimalist décor keep small spaces from appearing cluttered, so anything you can do to keep clutter under control is important, and there are many new products and hacks out there to help you do it.
Dorm storage has evolved over the years from plastic tubs and bins to more sophisticated options like woven baskets and canvas bins. Since closet space is likely at a premium, invest in tiered hangers to keep closets organized. A cost-effective alternative to tiered hangers is two regular hangers joined together with a pop tab. Same effect, smaller price tag. Inexpensive shower rings can be attached to closet rods to hold jewelry, scarves and other accessories.
Dress up plain magazine holders with designer contact paper to corral stray papers and office items without taking up too much valuable real estate.
Plan for seating. Dorm rooms are multi-purpose spaces, used for sleeping, studying, snacking and socializing. Have extra seating options on hand in case guests stop by. Ottomans with removable tops can double as extra storage and seating. Oversized pillows become floor cushions. It’s also a good idea to invest in a good desk chair with lumbar support for comfort. Extra points for style.
Use your vertical resources. Walls are an often-overlooked opportunity for expression and storage. Create a gallery wall for artwork and photos. Tie other elements of the room into wall décor by creating your own fabric pinboard or DIY dry erase board and fill them with notes and mementos. Favorite sports teams or college logos abound when it comes to fabric, so everyone can find something they like.
Mounting shelves on walls preserves precious floor space. There are many options available that are wall-friendly and won’t damage surfaces. Consider a honeycomb shelving set or floating shelves that attach to walls using command strips or can be hung from the ceiling. Stick-on hooks can provide a space to hang clothes, bags or other items.
Create atmosphere. Dormitories often use harsh florescent lighting. Incorporating desk lamps or floor lamps provides a warmer atmosphere. String lights can add a soothing glow to give your room a cozy feeling after a long day of studying or socializing.