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Alpha Delta Pi Decorating 101

Turn a cookie-cutter campus room into a stylish home.

by Mary Margaret Giles / July 2018


Plan it. Buy it. Love it.

    Turn a cookie-cutter campus room into a stylish sorority sanctuary with a few simple design tips.

Your new room on campus is going to be your new sanctuary. Coming back from a long day of class and work, you want your space to be relaxing, organized, beautiful and a place where you want to spend time. Making your space feel like you — and making it a place you want to be — can make all the difference between a room and a home.

It will be your space to gather with friends, watch movies, listen to music, play games, to study, and enjoy meals all in a space no bigger than 6’ x 10’.

Work With What You Are Given

You can’t do anything about the furniture you are given in your dorm room which usually consists of a twin bed that can usually be lofted so you can use the space underneath the bed, a dresser for clothes, a desk and desk chair, sometimes a small bookshelf or bedside table is included. All of which is usually in a oaky brown color.

Think of your college room as a tiny house. Mentally create living zones in your room. Design is just as important as function in a small space. Just because your room is small doesn't mean it has to be short on cozy charm that is inviting. You living environment is an important part of setting yourself up for a successful semester.

Learn how to decorate a college dorm room with big design style to make it feel larger and more like home.

At first thought, you might think your dorm room is too small to have separate areas. However, without a purpose to the space it can lead to things looking messy. The first step to designing your space is to define your space.

1Define your space. Break your small college room into zones for lounging, working and eating with open space to move around. Think ahead and create the space you need and want to be in. The area under your lofted bed do you want to use for storage or lounging? Could you or would you want to put your mini-fridge under your bed? Would your desk fit under your lofted bed? Would you want to study there? What about your dresser? Want more floor space will dresser fit under your bed?

Try to imagine the furniture in your space and it will be used throughout the day. Set priorities to what your really need and what is important to you and plan accordingly. Is the bed important will you be spending a great deal of time there sleeping, reading and studying. Or do you prefer to lounge in chair. Maybe a bean bag or a low profile gaming type chair under your lofted bed more important. 

2Raised furnishings are ideal for small rooms since they create the illusion of more space. So loft those beds!

Rugs are a great way to create designated areas. Are you using the space under your bed for lounging? Besides

adding a functional element it defines the space and gives you a clean area for lounging.

3Find a home for all your electronic devices. Try to find ways to hide the cords and yet still make them reachable. It makes your space look clean and tidy thus giving it a bigger appearance.

The color palette of your dorm room is important. The right color palette will make your tiny living space look and feel larger with our smart design tricks from clever multifunctional accessories to room expanding color palettes. A consistent color scheme and scaled accent pieces will make your dorm feel larger.

4Create a color palette. Use the same color, but different shades for an accent color. A neutral color that compliments your accent color.

If you have favorite colors, or you are in a sorority that already has a color palette, this may be an easy step. Do you want to pull your bold color from the sorority colors or add a new color? What is your neutral?

5A consistent neutral anchor color is just as important to consider as the main theme color, when designing a cohesive look.

Keep things light when choosing colors that will cover a large space in your room. Rich, dark colors have

a tendency to draw attention and make spaces appear smaller to the eye, light shades open up a space. 

6A good rule of thumb when choosing your color palette use three colors: two light, bright shades that decorate the majority of the space. Add one darker accent color to create visual interest.

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7Invest in a nice, heavy duty, neutral small storage ottoman

Double-Duty Storage and seating. Keep clutter hidden discreetly but at hand. Store under loft bed and use of propping up your laptop for watching movie or add a

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clipboard on top for sturdiness and use as a coffee table for setting your drink on. Use as step stool for getting into a lofted bed. Use as a seat for putting on your shoes or an extra chair for when you have visitors.

What is the difference between a nice looking room and a designer room?

Layering is an important design element to include in your college dorm room. Small spaces lack depth because there only so much space for the eye to take in.

8Mixing Patterns & Textures. Add complexity and depth to your college space buy layering and mixing different patterns in different shades of your theme color from small to large.

Although your college room probably comes with blinds, if you can find a way to hang curtains it will go a long way to making your small space feel like home. Most college dorms only have one window. Natural light in a small space is very important. Light airy curtains will allow more natural light in making the space feel larger and more cheerful.

9Curtains add depth and softness to a small space.

A full length mirror is a must have for every college girl! Invest in an inexpensive over the door mirror. Not only will it give you a mirror for getting dressed and applying makeup but it will make your room feel larger. If possible place the mirror over a door that will give you pretty area in the reflection. Not the trash can or laundry bin.

10A full length mirror over a door will help reflect light and make the space feel larger than it actually is.

It is important to realize that every square inch of a small space is important including the mirror hanging on the back of the door. Use the space wisely by attaching command hooks around the mirrors edges on the side for scarves, and other hanging nicknacks you might use when getting dressed.

11Invest in a quality floor lamp and a table lamp. Adding lights to different areas of your room creates visual interest and a feeling that each spot is interesting and valuable.

Avoid using the harsh florescent overhead lighting found in many dorms. If you have light fixtures, change the lightbulbs to soft lightbulbs. Keep the old ones to put back in when you move out.

Have the ugly, buzzing long florescent lights? Invest in a couple of floor lamps. They don’t take up room on any table top service you might be lucky enough to have, including your desk area. You can adjust the light to just where you want it and not disturb your dorm-mate. Be sure floor lamp shade is not plastic! They are not allowed in college housing because of the fire hazard.

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12Studying long hours can be frustrating on the eyes and body. Having different spaces in your room to sit, stand or lay down while studying will give your body a break. Using different lighting will also give your eyes a break.

Don't forget the walls. Have a plan... chic or bohemian? Chic Style: When adding framed art, it is important to use similar colors so the art or photos will read as a collection instead of a clutter. We recommend all white frames or all black which showcase your art or photo lends itself to a

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more expensive look. Use wall putty so you don’t leave holes. Bohemian Style: Create a gallery wall using all different color frames and objects in two or three colors. Anymore and you run the risk of it looking like clutter in a small space.

13When to buy neutrals and when to buy colorful accent pieces, get the most for your college budget by thinking ahead.. Ask yourself what are the chances of me using this again?

When designing a small space like a college dorm room with only one closet, STORAGE is ESSENTIAL! It is important to think vertically and horizontally. You need places to keep all the things you need to live comfortable in your space hidden. All storage containers are not created equally. You need stackable storage and a way of labeling the storage in a cohesive neat manner.

When deciding what to store and how many storage containers to purchase. Keep in mind that the MOST VALUABLE ITEM IN A SMALL SPACE IS EMPTY SPACE. Be selective in what you purchase and keep.

14Decorative storage boxes in neutral colors. Invest in the inexpensive boxes but look for ones that have the label inserts. No need to write on the box so if you change your mind on what you need it for. It is easy peasy to change. Keep clutter hidden discreetly but at hand.

Storage containers, boxes or ottomans are needed and used year after year. They can easily transition from college dorm to college apartment. Think neutral. Lighting. A nice floor lamp in a neutral color can easily transition form college dorm to college apartment. Think neutral and functionality.

Curtains & bedding the sizes needed could change year over year. When transitioning from college dorm to college apartment the bed size, number of windows and window sizes all will probably change. Think pattern and colorful accent colors.

The longer you live in a space the more it becomes a part of you, making you feel more at home.

15Personalize your college room, make it reflect you and let your inner sorority girl shine!

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Accessories & Personal touches. As you grow and change, so will your personal touches. Accessories, accent pieces are easily changed. What you like this year may not be what you like next year. Think this means something to me. Be colorful and let your personality shine.

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