Rethinking the College Dorm Room
By Jenny Komenda
Decorating your small dorm room, just like designing a small but fun car, takes a little thinking outside the box. The designers of Chevy’s mini-car, the all-new Spark, know a thing or two about packing a lot of functionality into a compact space—who would’ve imagined they could put five doors on such a sporty little ride? So for interiors that demand an efficient plan, we asked Spark Senior Design Manager Kathy Sirvio for some advice. “Keep things simple,” she told us. “Pick one focal point for pattern and texture. A neutral color palette with a pop of color tied to accents will pull the space together without overwhelming it. We followed these principals in the Spark by applying a unique texture to the instrument panel and pops of color in the decor and seating.”
Here are a few of my own tips for making your dorm room feel like a comfortable, stylish and efficient home away from home.
1) Edit! Edit! Edit!
Be smart about the things you choose to bring with you. If you don’t use it at least once a week, it’s probably not worth the precious real estate in your room, and it should probably stay home with Mom! Make sure everything has a purpose.
2) Look up! Then look down!
Once you know what you need to bring to your new home, you’re going to have to get a little creative with storage. Don’t forget about your vertical spaces. Up high you can install a series of wall shelves, and down low, try storing bulkier items under your bed. Risers are a must for dorm rooms!
Also, it’s important to display only really great-looking items and accessories. If it’s not beautiful and inspiring, consider keeping it in an easily accessible storage container or decorative box.
3) Don’t be afraid of big color in a small space.
Now that you have all your belongings put away, the fun part begins. When you’re thinking about how you want to decorate your dorm room, you might be tempted to keep everything neutral so you don’t overpower the small space. Fight that temptation and take a leaf from the Chevy Spark’s playbook! Small things come alive when you add the right amount of color.
If you’re not confident in your design aesthetic, try adding color in doses. Rather than buying a red duvet cover, try adding a red pillow to your white bedding. Maybe that pop of color will give you the confidence to add a yellow throw to the foot of your bed! Lamps, art, storage boxes, wall hooks and desk accessories are other good places to add color without making a big commitment.
4) Make it yours!
Just like with most rental homes and other temporary living situations, it can be a challenge to make a space feel personalized. Beige-painted cinderblock walls and dated honey-oak furniture can feel bland and stale—especially when every room in the entire building is sporting the same look!
The single best (and easiest!) way to help your dorm room reflect your personal style is to hang unique artwork. Try a single over-scale piece on one wall, or make a gallery-style arrangement by grouping several complementary pieces together. The art you hang tells so much about who you are to friends and visitors. And like the Spark, it can give a small space depth that’s…well...virtually endless.
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Jenny Komenda is a New York City-based interior designer and blogger. Her daily posts on Little Green Notebook cover decor-related inspiration and DIY projects (many of which she's tested out on the Brooklyn brownstone she’s renovating herself, with her young family in tow). Jenny's work has been showcased in Elle Decor, Better Homes and Gardens, Vogue, House and Home, Good Housekeeping and HGTV, among other publications.