Decorate My Dorm
November 24, 2004 6:53 PM   Subscribe

DormRoomFilter: Does anyone have any suggestions for making a room the size of a jail cell look organized and/or snazzy?
posted by moooshy to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When in the dorms, my roommate and I moved the beds from opposite sides of the room to side by side with a table between. If your not a total homophobe it makes for a lot more room.

Also, a plant or two does wonders.
posted by orange clock at 6:59 PM on November 24, 2004

Invest in nice sheets. I'm talking about 200+ threadcount here. Since it's going to make up a large surface that you're gonna stare at (or lie on, or invite someone to lie on!) it better be good.

I personally don't like posters just because of dorm's strict regulation on their precious walls, but I think posters don't look that good anyway unless framed.

Organization-wise, it depends on what you like. If you have a lot of papers, it might be worth it to buy a standing file cabinet. Or you can be cheap like me and buy an accordion folder and stuff everything inside.

Knick-knacks don't do so well in small spaces. Maybe have only one or two out and rotate them around.

Oh and try Digs Magazine for tons of tips.
posted by christin at 7:00 PM on November 24, 2004

Find a place that carries British home magazines (I see them a Borders and Towers) and look through their examples. When I lived in a small apartment those magazines opened my eyes to many space saving ideas and showed me how creative you can get in small spaces. Most of the American home magazine seem to focus are large rooms while the British magazine seem to spend more time in more realistic settings. And surprisingly, you can get some good ideas for humble sized rooms from Martha Stewart, although at the moment I think she's more focused on making her jail cell look like a dorm room.
posted by HifiToaster at 7:32 PM on November 24, 2004

wow, orange clock my dorm came like that. Also, ours were bunkbeds, mere touching distance between them, above our teeny desks. My roommate used to climb over to my bed to chat at four in the morning all the time. I don't think I slept at all during my first semester. ;)

I found that clever shelves/storage underneath the desk and on the walls helped a lot in the area of keeping us sane and the floors stuff-free. Snazzy sheets, pillows & candles actually made it looks like a room.
posted by dabitch at 8:33 PM on November 24, 2004


If you don't mind living in a "top bunk" situation, raise your bed or 6 feet off the ground and put a couch or desk underneath it.

If you do mind it being that high, put it up on a cinder block or two and toss trunks full of stuff there.

Instantly changes the dynamic of the room.
posted by TTIKTDA at 8:38 PM on November 24, 2004

Word to the loft situation. If you can make it happen without too much trouble, it's an awesome solution.

Also, don't overdo it. Most home-decor (and small apartment-decor) magazines are full of rooms packed with crap. They do this, of course, because if you don't buy all that crap, they'll eventually go out of business.

There's a lot to be said for minimalism, especially when you don't have a lot of space. Get posters, or mirrors, or anything that ads flavor without taking much space.

Here's another brilliant idea: when I was in dorms, our respective closet/cabinet setups were on either side of the room, facing each other. What we did was remove my closet door, and balance it between the two top shelves (which were above both the closet door opening and the room door.) Then, we could put TV/game console up there. It seems awkward, but it was a great way to save space.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:46 PM on November 24, 2004

I completely covered one wall with hundreds of postcards. A real pain to take down, but it looked cool, and people kept stopping by to gaze at my wall.
posted by Vidiot at 10:16 PM on November 24, 2004

carpet. nothing sucks worse than a bare linoleum floor. invest in a decent area rug, or if it'll just end up covered in beerstains anyway go for a cheap carpet remnant. but cover the floor, and you've gone a long way towards customizing your space with very little effort.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:17 PM on November 24, 2004

Rule #1 - get a full-sized futon. No other person wants to sleep in a twin bed with you.

Rule #2: the earlier in the year you get something, the longer you'll have it before you have to move it. It's November already, so you're basically screwed until next year. Isn't this more a September kind of question?

Rule #3: Toothpaste is great temporary spackle. (Write this on a post-it and save for move-out day.)

Rule #4: Snazzy? Um... how about 57 lava lamps?

Rule #5: Find a place for everything. For easy reference, divide the room into 4-inch quadrants and label everything with its proper coordinates (X,Y,Z). Use those new metallic sharpies, unless all of your things are grey.

Rule #6: Organized? Ummmm... You pretty much have to just have less stuff. Or enough stuff that the stuff itself becomes part of the overall infrastructure. If you have lots of CDs - get one of those newfangled ipoddy thingies. Then you can use the CDs as wallpaper.
posted by Caviar at 11:36 PM on November 24, 2004

I'm inspired by this loft concept, how does one get started on it?
posted by inksyndicate at 11:48 PM on November 24, 2004

I got pretty tired of climbing into my boyfriend's loft. Putting your bed on cinderblocks, storing crap underneath, and using a sheet or something to hide it all, is a lot more classy. Re the futon suggestion - make sure it's comfortable! This is cool b/c it can be a couch when you have people over.

The best advice is to have very little stuff. Then, when you have gotten rid of everything you can, make sure it all has a home. A shoerack, lots of hangers, or bins for under the bed can help with this. My problem with filing cabinets is I would never actually put my papers away, so now I have a separate shelf for papers.

As per snazziness, a lamp is good because dorm lighting tends to be harsh. Stay away from posters of art that everyone has seen a million times. Put stuff on the walls that is unique and says something about you - photos, posters from shows you've attended, etc.
posted by mai at 12:04 AM on November 25, 2004

I actually disagree about the carpet thing, but I have been raised to be vehemently anti-carpet. Carpets get dirty easily, are hard to get completely clean, and are a haven for dust mites and all sorts of nasty allergens. When I was living in a dorm, my roomate and I each had a throw rug to go in front of our beds (hers was a big flower, mine was a red Moroccan). Pretty, different, easy to move, put away, roll up, clean, etc.

I brought lots of posters, but shake up the way you put 'em on the wall. Hopefully your posters vary in shape and size, so that you're not just putting several big picture blocks in a big straight line. That's boring. Also, break up the wall space with smaller elements -- I like to put postcards and New Yorker covers in dime store frames.

Hang light, small, dangly things from the ceiling, like mobiles or paper lamps. Yes, most dorm rules don't allow you to nail things in, but you'd be amazed how much weight a liberally-applied wad of Blu-Tack can support.

Fabrics, shawls and scarves can make pretty, different wall decorations, and can add a lot of color and textural variety to the room.

Lamps are good. Of course, there's the ol' dorm standby of Christmas lights -- kind of old, now, but there are some really pretty, unique strings of lights out there if you know how to look. I had a string of little white lights with wicker balls on top of them. It was gorrrgeous!

Plants are also a good way to add color and life to a room. Of course, it's no good if you let them die. I always let my roommates have the plants. I have a black thumb.
posted by fricative at 8:09 AM on November 25, 2004


You get a kit like this one. (WARNING: First Google Result, YMMV).

Alternately, ask you're school if they have loft gear availiable. I know my old school had 100 loft kits availiable to the first people to request them from Res Life - they would get installed over the summer and be ready for you when you arrived in the fall.
posted by TTIKTDA at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2004

Building a loft is easy. Get some 4x4's for corner posts. build a bed frame with 2x4's. (Find an appropriately sized mattress first). Cover 2/4's with some plywood (leave small gaps, so the matress can breathe, or use pegboard instead of plywood)
I slept on such an arrangement for 2 years in university, because I had a TINY room. I put a couch underneath, facing my desk. Worked wonders.

oh, my girlfriend wasn't a fan.
posted by defcom1 at 8:19 AM on November 25, 2004

If you go for a loft, be aware of just how high you build it. One night, the fire alarm went off (and who expects a fire alarm?) and I gave myself a concussion when I sat straight up and whacked my head on the ceiling.
posted by Dreama at 1:23 PM on November 25, 2004

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