08/26/2011 08:15 am ET | Updated Oct 26, 2011

How To Turn Your Dorm Room From Drab To Fab

When I found out I’d be living in a New York City dorm room this summer, I knew that my temporary home in the city had to be homey and fabulous. Even though I would only be spending two months there, making the space great and representative of me was a top priority -- and actually much easier than you might think. The room just had to be Dormified.

Move-in day is a big, stressful, exciting day for college students and their families. However, I have a few tips that will definitely help you out. My mom and I started Dormify when I was entering my freshman year of college, after many failed attempts to find chic, sophisticated bedding in a twin XL. We couldn’t believe how neglected this niche market was, so we decided to do something about it. Today we have a full e-commerce site that features its own bedding line, wall decals and posters as well as decorative pillows, storage and tons of other cool dorm room essentials from our favorite brands.

Watch Amanda's room go from lifeless to alive! Story continues below.


Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do before you arrive at school besides choosing bedding and a color palate because you have no idea yet what you’re working with until you see your room in person. If at all possible, try to move in before your roommates — you’ll thank me later! Next, make sure you unpack your iHome first because music is pretty much the only thing that will keep you going all day.

The first step in actually decorating your room is one of the most important: rearranging the furniture. Universities don’t usually make the most of the space they provide in these tiny rooms, so it’s up to you to use the space most efficiently. I’ve moved my bed and desk in every single dorm room I’ve ever lived in. It makes a huge difference. In my New York City dorm, my roommates and I moved our beds closer together and made a wall unit/desk area on the other side of the room, which ended up breaking up the space nicely.

Next you’ll have to tackle your dorm room’s floor. My dorm room in New York had a old, sad tile floor, so to cover it up I bought a large shag rug. My room instantly became more “homey.” You should be able to find inexpensive rugs anywhere that sells carpet remnants. Make sure you bring one of your pillowcases or a color swatch to make sure your new rug matches your bedding.

Next up is usually the big trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond — basically a playground for college kids during move-in. Here are a few essential buys, but try not to go crazy (I know it’s hard) since you live in a dorm room and don’t have much space to spare: large, plastic storage drawers to put under your bed or stack and make into a nightstand, tons of Command strips for hanging, a floor lamp and table lamp, a comfy desk chair if the provided chair is what most colleges give you, bathroom essentials, and any necessary kitchen supplies.

After lugging those huge shopping bags back to your room, make sure everything is wiped down before you start unpacking, moving things in, and decorating. I like to start with the bed because that’s the focal point of the room and lets you get a feel for what the whole room is going to look like later. I chose a gray and yellow color scheme for my room this summer. I love my Believe You Can Fly/Pinwheel of Fortune twin XL reversible duvet with Pinwheel of Fortune twin XL sheets and I am obsessed with mixing and matching different types of pillows. I had sequined pillows, vinyl pillows and geometric pillows which, together, created a layered, eclectic look.

You have to take full advantage of your wall space because empty walls = boring. Wall decals are another way to add character and luxury to a room. They are inexpensive and easy to apply. A chandelier decal added sophistication and luxury to my room and the bicycle decal kept things cool and fun, and very New York. I also hung gray Dormify A to Z prints in my initials to match my bedding. These posters are great for personalization and school spirit, and each letter is so unique that they feel like artwork.

The finishing touches are the small additions that make a huge difference. Combining photos, mirrors, and artwork on your wall will create more visual interest. Also make sure you incorporate pops of color into your desk area and bookshelves to keep your room cohesive. Add a throw to the end of your bed to add variety, texture, and comfort. And don’t forget flameless candles — one of my favorite room accents. They make your space homey and won’t get you in trouble with your RA.

Lastly, don’t forget about the bathroom and kitchen or dining area. Get a chic shower curtain to replace the dull one provided and add some color with fruit or flowers in your dining area to make it more inviting. I added a deer head decal to give it a lodge feel and add some humor to my space.

Remember, your college dorm room is your home away from home and you have to make it your own. This school year, take your room from drab to fab and style your space. Have fun, and happy decorating!