8 Steps to Designing Your Dorm- Step 7: Spice up your walls.

<< Before you read this, read Step 6: Add Personal Touches

Since your walls are the largest, most blank visual space in your room, you are going to want to use them to your full advantage. I’ve posted just about a billion pictures regarding ideas for adding interest to your walls, so I’ll just recap some of them here. 

For some cool ways to hang up or display your photos, consider these:

  1. Make heart
  2. Stick them up in neat rows
  3. Attach them to a line with clothespins
  4. Make a little border
  5. Do a checkerboard pattern

Or perhaps you would like to make a few birds for your walls:

  1. Barn Swallow tutorial
  2. Flowers and birds
  3. More birds
  4. 3D bird illusion

You could also creatively drape some christmas lights:

  1. Drapey fabric + christmas lights
  2. Paper lanterns aaaand christmas lights
  3. Make a lighted headboard

Maybe you’d like to use vinyl wall decals:

  1. Submission: tree and bird decal 
  2. DIY chevron patterned decal
  3. Faux headboard, anyone?
  4. And general sources for getting decals

Also, some typography would look pretty sweet:

  1. art is the last form of magic
  2. i sure can dream
  3. Submission: Eleanor Roosevelt quote
  4. -nothing personal
  5. typograhy hanging from the ceiling

Finally, some other, random ideas:

  1. Create large blocks of color using construction paper
  2. Use a rasterbator to blow up a picture/poster all huge-like
  3. Submission: Free paint swatches for a gradient wall
  4. Make a collage of quotes and pictures from a magazine
  5. Put up some colorful LP covers

One more idea. I can’t believe that I haven’t mentioned this on the blog yet, though I have planned to use it in my room from the beginning. The idea is to starch fabric to your walls. It sounds strange, I know, but it is actually a really awesome (and cheaper) alternative to painting your walls or using something like removable wallpaper. Personally, I’m going to use the fabric from some inexpensive curtains that I picked up in order to create an accent wall. Here is a tutorial describing how to do it. I’m sure if you need something more detailed you can find it using Google. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Now, go read the final Step 8: Make a move-in-day plan >>

8 Steps to Designing Your Dorm- Step 5: Equip Your Study Zone.

<< Wait! Read Step 4: Get Organized, first!

Equipping your study space is going to be one of the most important things you do, because while it doesn’t really matter what your dorm room looks like in terms of academic achievement, the stuff you get for your study zone could very well have an impact on your grades. 

First, you should decide what, if anything, you already own (in terms of office supplies) and plan to bring to your desk area in your dorm. Some things you want to consider are basic office supplies like pens and pencils (make sure you have some number 2 pencils for test taking), a cup to hold them in, scissors, erasers, highlighters, ect. All these things are common sense, and you have to decide what you want to bring based on your study habits and preferences.

One really important piece of furniture that people often overlook is a good quality desk chair. You are not going to want to sit for long periods of studying on those really hard, wooden desk chairs that are usually provided with the room. Even if you go for one of the cheaper, mesh backed rolling chairs from stores like Target or Walmart, it will have a padded seat and more comfortable back that will make your studying much more bearable.

Another important thing to remember is that dorm rooms have HORRIBLE lighting. Therefore, if you want to save yourself a lot of eye strain and make it much easier and more comfortable to study, invest in a desk lamp. Usually the ones that swivel or have bendable necks are best for this, because you can adjust the light’s angle (this is great if you have a roommate that goes to bed earlier than you, since you can direct the light only onto your papers/books and you don’t have to turn on the overhead florescent).

You’re also going to benefit from having either a cork board, memo board or a white board over your study area. These are fantastic for putting lists on, tacking up memos or flyers about upcoming school events, or writing reminders about when your papers or projects are due. Encourage your roomie to get one too, because then you can write notes and reminders to each other.

Additionally, I’d recommend getting a paper tray or organizer to act as an “inbox”. This can serve as a collection bin for everything that requires your attention, such as mail, school projects, or just a note that your roommate leaves for you. If you are familiar with David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method, having an inbox is essential. If you are not, I’d highly recommend grabbing a copy from your local library and giving it a read. Developing organization and productivity skills while in college will benefit you personally and professionally for the rest of your life. 

Don’t forget that you are also probably going to want to bring binders, notebooks, folders, and looseleaf paper for your classwork. Choose what works for you, and don’t overpurchase these items if you are unsure of what you will need for each class (plus, there are usually some pretty awesome clearance sales on these items in mid to late September, if you can hold out). Also keep in mind that most professors allow you to take your laptop to class and type notes, so if you would prefer this format, you probably don’t need any paper-based office supplies. You might also want to consider going paperless, or partially paperless, this semester. This is what I am attempting to do (we’ll see how well that goes, haha). Please send a message to my ask box if you are interested in finding out more about the process I intend to use to go paperless!

Since your desk is going to be pulling double duty as a place to eat, sort your mail, and deal with any of the more “grown-up” stuff that is now on your plate (like *gasp* paying bills), you may want to figure out ways to keep the surface relatively clear of stuff. Using things like 3-tier desk organizers (which you can also conveniently mount on the wall) will utilize vertical space while leaving the desk area open (I wasn’t able to find exactly what I’m talking about online, but I have a picture of one on my desk that I will post later. You should be able to find them in Walmart or Staples). You can also get stuff like a desk lamp with an organizer base for holding pens and pencils and various other office supplies, to kill two birds with one stone and save some space. If you really have a lot of office supply/study materials, you could get a rolling cart that would be stored under the desk while you’re not using it, and then rolled out next to you when you are.

Note: I was going to post some pictures of the setup I plan to use for my desk area, but my camera is not cooperating at the moment, so stay tuned for those in a later post. I’ll describe what I have set up for my study zone in that post.


TL;DR: Equipping your study zone with the proper supplies is really important! Make sure you have all of the pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, paper, binders and those other standard office supplies that you need to work productively. Also, consider investing in a comfortable desk chair, a desk lamp, a cork/memo/white board, and an inbox. Keeping your desk clear is important so you can use the  surface to eat and process paperwork, so utilize as much vertical storage as you can. I plan to post a few pictures of my desk setup soon, and I’ll let you guys know what I’m using to go paperless if you send me a message expressing your interest. Step 6 will be published tomorrow.

Next, read Step 6: Add Personal Touches >>

8 Steps to Designing Your Dorm: Preview

Next week (well actually tomorrow) I am going on vacation (finally!!!) so I’ve devised a series to help you last-minute shoppers decide what to get and how to decide your design for your room. They’re all queued up and ready to go, so stay tuned for a different step each day. Here’s a preview…

Step 1: Find your inspiration.

Step 2: Talk to your roommate.

Step 3: Buy your basics.

Step 4: Get organized.

Step 5: Equip your study zone.

Step 6: Add personal touches.

Step 7: Spice up your walls.

Step 8: Make a move-in-day plan.

I’ll elaborate in a new post each day, so look forward to hearing about finding your inspiration tomorrow! If you <3 this post you can revisit it each day to see the new link I’ve posted to each step. 

(Note: I was swamped this week so I didn’t get to answer anything you guys have sent to my ask box this wednesday, and during vacation I might not be able to get to a computer to answer anything next wednesday either. Submissions will still be published on Sunday, but look forward to the answers to many questions in a week or so. So sorry for the delay.)

8 Steps to Designing Your Dorm- Step 1: Find your inspiration.

I found my inspiration in an art piece called “Coney Island” by Mina Gorgescu. I decided to pull the aquas and some of the bright colors from the photograph for my basic color pallete. Your inspiration could come from a photo, a color scheme or a theme.

Try browsing through some of the posts on this blog to get a few ideas, or just stumble around tumblr and pull inspiration from a picture that you really enjoy. I suggest going to a blog where you really like the pictures that are posted, and visit the archive. Scan through the pictures quickly and pick one that has colors or a subject that really catches your eye. This is what you can use as a jumping-off point for your design.

If you chose a photo or a theme, this is where you can begin to formulate a color palette based on your inspiration. Choose 2 base colors that you want to use as the main focus of the design. I usually recommend selecting a saturated (i.e. bright) color as well as a color with reduced saturation (more on the neutral side of things- when a color has a saturation of zero, it is a shade of grey). A third color could be added into the mix if you feel there is a need for more variety, though if your roommate has different color preferences, this could be adding too much color/interest into the room (but we’ll get to that in Step 2, which will be posted tomorrow).

If you chose a color scheme as your inspiration, you are already set. If you want to choose a color scheme as your inspiration but have no idea which to pick, I suggest looking around on color sites such as this one.

Now for any of these types of inspiration, here comes the part for adding things like textures/items into the mix. At this stage of planning this is all purely hypothetical, so go to a site like olioboard.com to make your speculation more visual and tangible. That’s the site I used to make my very own mood board at the beginning of this crazy dorm decorating adventure. My vision has since shifted a bit- and that is okay! Nothing is set in stone yet, and design is always evolving. Here is my original inspiration board. Personally, I had decided to use aqua, yellow and coral (strangely enough the same colors I suggested for this beach-themed dorm).

Keep going back to your own inspiration board whenever you need ideas in the future steps! “Step 2: Talk to your roommate” coming tomorrow!


TL;DR: Choose a picture or theme. Base a color scheme off of this/pick a color scheme right off the bat– I suggest one bright color and one neutral + an optional additional color. Select main textures/themed items. Make inspiration board at olioboard.com. See two I made here and here. Step 2 will be published tomorrow.