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Tips for a Functional & Stylish Dorm Room

  • Posted by Array Design Studio
  • On April 10, 2019

For many, designing a dorm is a fun and exciting chance to create their own personalized space! They are saying good bye to their childhood bedrooms, and hello to independent them! However, it’s no secret that there seems to be a bit of a dorm room power struggle between two design aspects everyone loves to talk about: function VS style. This is also an opportunity for most young people to make a break from their family home and begin to set the tone for their independent life!

A purely functional dorm room might have all the elements necessary for storage and study, but they’re often cramped with furniture and a little too impersonal to ever really feel like their own. 

However, if your kiddo wants to maximize space so they can fit their stuff, sleep, and study in their small dorm, that may seem like the only choice.

Especially when the alternative is the dorm room regularly featured in catalogs. You know the one: inconveniently-cool furniture and other storage and décor items that look stylish but don’t seem to do much except take up space you need. 

Let’s just say: the struggle is real. 

So, to solve this dilemma once and for all, we want to show you how you can help your new college student with make function and personal style, meet – and with stunning results – in their dorm design!

1. Choose height over width when selecting furniture 

Space-saving furniture doesn’t have to be ugly to be useful! Things like chic over-the-bed shelving frames and desk bookshelf units can add space by building up, not out. 

Another great idea is making furniture do double duty. The desk can effortlessly double as their nightstand if they organize their dorm right!

2. Eliminate stuff that doesn’t work

Okay, so maybe all the college dorm décor ads feature a bean bag, couch, and side table. But they don’t have to conform to that!

Part of personalizing their space is thinking about what will work best for them, and that includes what types of things they’re going to use. For example, if their friends would rather sit on the edge of their bed, skip those awkwardly-sized bean bags.

3. Don’t be afraid to decorate, but choose wisely

Not everything in their dorm has to be useful.

Our only rule of thumb for “just-for-looks” décor is that it shouldn’t get in the way of functionality. So, if they like to use their entire desktop to study, maybe a little desk figurine or picture frame isn’t the best idea. Wall hangings might be a better choice.

4. Decorate with a purpose

It’s totally not cheating to use something functional as a decoration.  

If they want to doodle or hang photos, consider hanging a whiteboard on the wall and using magnets to put photos, quotes, and other light-weight decorations up to add personality as well as functionality!

Use interesting bookends to give your shelves some character…and to hold up those heavy (and expensive!) textbooks.

5. Lighting 

Gloomy weather and late night study sessions make dorm lighting an important part of design. 

Here’s an area where popular fashion comes in handy! We love decorating dorm rooms with fairy lights because they add a soft, warm color that will help illuminate the room without hurting your eyes. Remember to add that very convenient reading light attached to their bed.

6. Color and shapes 

Color can be drawn from many different items, most likely, they won’t have the luxury of repainting walls so find try and find their point of difference in their personal item. If they can change the wall color however, great! The school might allow it if they agree to paint it back? Color is the greatest opportunity for your kiddo to set a tone of your sense of expression. 

They can theme it or just pick 3 colors that make them smile, feel cozy or excited, whatever it is they want to feel when they open that door. Color is what motivates them in their decision making, study habits and starts to set a pace for their future. Use bedding, storage containers, hangers, etc.

The shapes they use will also set an eliminate of comfort and ease. Throw in some curves, circles, geometric shapes and squiggles so they don’t feel too boxed in. 

No matter what their personal design style is or how small their dorm is, use our tips to help them create a space that’s practical, stylish, and totally their own!


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