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We Gave It The Old College Try...

5 Stylish Dorm Room Combos

Emily Henderson Dorm Room 5 Styles

*** Written by Arlyn Hernandez

The design that’s happening in dorm rooms these days makes me insanely jealous. Back in the early 2000s, when I was in college (well before Instagram and Pinterest, mind you), you were considered “stylish” if you sticky-tacked some trés chic French posters up on your wall (I had this super classy woman-behind-champagne glass print and the ever-popular “Parapluie-Revel” poster). Another year, I bought a ton of vinyl records on eBay and made a floor-to-ceiling grid out of them behind my bed to disguise the cinder block. Anyone who came over to visit/hang out was like “whoa, you could be an interior designer.” I’d laugh humbly, agreeing internally, but instead saying “actually, I’m going to be a magazine editor” with the confidence of someone who has CHOICES due to many, many talents (of course, I’m kidding…I do not have what it takes to do what Emily and the rest of the design team does…I’ll stick to writing and editing).

Today though, decked out dorm rooms feel like the norm (remember this gem that went viral last year?). While 8-foot-tall tufted headboards and fluffy rugs aren’t exactly my style, I do feel like I would have absolutely tried to fancy up my jail cell dorm room had 2003 Arlyn been able to tap into 2018 Arlyn (and the vast expanse of internet decor inspirations). Goodbye Urban Outfitters tapestry emblazoned with cherry blossoms and Medusa-style multi-colored floor lamp…hello, well, anything BUT that.

We know dorm move-in is coming up fast, and if you’re far cooler than 18-year-old Arlyn and want to transform your (or your kid’s) sad college quarters, than oh boy do we have a treat for you today. We dove deep into the minds of our college-aged selves and, based on what we’d want our dorm rooms to look like today if we were matriculating this fall, we’ve created five combos for a handful of styles—boho, eclectic glam, happy modern, minimal cozy, and classic collegiate. 

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Even if your bachelor’s degree is a distant memory at this point, we think these combos can be translated to a first (or whatever number you’re on) apartment…just swap out the twin XL bedding for your current mattress size. And speaking of Twin XL bedding, this down alternative insert has great reviews, would be a great addition to all the duvet sets below…and is only $25.

As a reminder, every image is clickable and directly shoppable, so no need to scroll up and down to find links (though those are still there, too, in case you’re a creature of habit). Just hover over whatever has you all excited and click. Simple as that!

1. Pillowcase Set | 2. Duvet Cover | 3. Pink Planter | 4. Ceramic Bud Vase | 5. Stripe Throw Pillow | 6. Shag Pillow | 7. Tassel Lumbar Pillow | 8. Table Lamp | 9. Lap Desk | 10. Throw Blanket | 11. Laundry Basket | 12. Curtain | 13. Rug | 14. Bamboo Beaded Curtain | 15. Pink Notepad | 16. Geo Bookend | 17. Pencil Cup | 18. Desk Organizer | 19. Washi Tape | 20. ‘Women’ Printable Art | 21. Framed Pressed Flowers | 22. Wooden Print Dowel Hanger | 23. ‘Big Sur’ Printable Art | 24. Floor Lamp | 25. Chair | 26. Folder Box | 27. Pouf 

Boho: It’s basically impossible to do a style roundup these days without some boho action. We’re a smidge over the SUPER layered and textural anything-goes look that most people think of when they hear “boho,” so we brought the artsy look down to earth by using a warm, tonal palette (there’s no lilac here, but it does really speak to that desert sunset hue trend that’s happening right now). A graphic pattern on a beaded curtain would be a funky addition to a closet, and of course, rattan makes an appearance (#duh) in the delicate floor lamp.

1. Duvet Cover Set | 2. Sheet Set | 3. Marble Bookends | 4. Table Lamp | 5. Temporary Wallpaper | 6. B & W Pillow | 7. Blue Lumbar Pillow | 8. Yellow Pillow | 9. Curtains | 10. Striped Throw | 11. Brass Sphere Catchall | 12. Lap Desk | 13. Rug | 14. Metal Pencil Organizer | 15. Velvet Pencils | 16. Brass Note Pad | 17. Marble Trash Bin | 18. ‘Thumbprint’ Framed Print | 19. White Frame | 20. Paths I Printable Print  | 21. Cult Paper Mouth Art Print | 22. Gold Tape | 23. Floor Lamp | 24. Floor Mirror | 25. Chair | 26. Laundry Bag | 27. Pink Pouf | 28. Square Bone Box | 29. Black Vase 

Eclectic Glam: The key to keep glam more in the realms of Kelly Wearstler and not dipping into Kim K. territory is to bring in some rich, deeper hues to balance out lush brasses, velvets and fringe (and of course, a heavy dose of black). The soft curves of the full-length mirror is an upgrade from your traditional budget option and touches like a marble wastebasket and bookends feel super grown up.

1. Duvet Cover | 2. Bud Vase | 3. Sherpa Pillow | 4. Gray Lumbar Pillow | 5. Curtain | 6. Table Lamp | 7. Jersey Sheet Set | 8. Throw Blanket | 9. Rug | 10. Laundry Basket | 11. Lap Desk | 12. Multi-Use Slatted Over-The-Door Storage Rack | 13. Bookends | 14. Desk Organizer | 15. White Frame | 16. Minimalist Printable Print | 17. File Box | 18. Convertible Triangle Floor Cushion | 19. Wood Trash Bin | 20. Convertible Triangle Floor Cushion

Minimal Cozy: We get that lots of color and metallics isn’t a look that everyone gels with…some of us need something softer, minimal and muted to relax and focus. This combo is for the person who chants “a place for everything and everything in its place” proudly, and whose meticulously kept dresser drawers rival those of org master Marie Kondo. To avoid something so hushed from feeling flat and boring, we mixed in some cozy textures via the shag rug, nubby throw pillow and convertible rollout floor pad.

1. Duvet Comforter | 2. Wallpaper | 3. Picture Frame / Jewelry Holder | 4. Table Lamp | 5. Fur Pillow | 6. Curtain | 7. Pink Marbled Pillow | 8. Sheet Set | 9. Throw Blanket | 10. Bookend | 11. Gold Pencil Holder | 12. Rug | 13. Lap Desk | 14. File Holder | 15. Mini Pink Container | 16. Letter Holder | 17. ‘Going For a Swim’ Framed Print | 18. White Sticks Adhesive Poster Frame | 19. ‘The Typewriter’ Print | 20. Floor Lamp | 21. Floor Mirror | 22. Chair | 23. Multi-Hook Storage | 24. Trash Bin | 25. Laundry Bag | 26. Glass Vase | 27. Copper String Lights | 28. Stool

Happy Modern: Happy times are sure to be had in a room like this. First and foremost…that temporary citrus wallpaper can either be applied to all your walls (if you don’t have cinder block—I have to imagine that’d come out rather bumpy and lumper), or you could even just take a piece of it and frame it as art (20″x30″ would be fun!) or a headboard, tack it over a magnetic board, or put it on borrowing honey oak furniture to really jazz things up. Copper fairy lights add that magic that every sad dorm room DESPERATELY NEEDS, and an acrylic and brass desk chair will (hopefully) inspire you through looooong nights of cramming.

1. Green Duvet Cover | 2. Table Lamp | 3. Brass Wishbone | 4. Polaroid Frame | 5. Long Body Pillow | 6. Blue Pillow | 7. Sheet Set | 8. Plaid Throw Blanket | 9. Brass Bookends | 10. Rug | 11. Lap Desk | 12. Black Bud Vase | 13. Wood Pencil Cup | 14. Curtain | 15. Leather File Holder | 16. ‘YES’ Banner | 17. Black Frame | 18. ‘Pines’ Printable Art | 19. Floor Lamp | 20. Storage Mirror | 21. Chair | 22. Laundry Bag | 23. Pouf | 24. Trash Bin

Classic Collegiate: Doesn’t this design just make you want to go to a football game decked out in your school colors where you’ll yell at the refs for a bad call and cheerfully (or maybe belligerently) scream out the fight song along with the marching band? No? Does it at least make you want to read books and talk about Socrates…or at the very least, are you itching to watch Good Will Hunting? The olive green-blue-gray-leather thing happening here gets some pizazz from warm brass accents, that unexpected rust floor lamp…oh and that mirror has secret storage in it…yay!

Which is your favorite? If you were decorating a dorm room (or maybe you actually are), what style is most you??

  1. Man, so jealous of college freshman right now. Also, the thought of the dudes I knew in college bringing a brass wishbone to school made me smile 🙂

    1. Though not a freshman dude, I just bought the brass wishbone. 😀

  2. Sigh. Take me back to my days of Romeo + Juliet and Titanic movie posters! Those were the days! And my paint + glitter DIY bookshelves.

    1. Leo 4-ever!

  3. I just pinned so many of these things for my own home. Thanks!

    1. Same! These are great.

  4. I temporarily “wallpapered” my room with light blue wrapping paper in college. A little more affordable than the temporary wallpaper here, though certainly less polished.

  5. Overall, I’m digging this post. My favorite room if I were going to college would be the “happy, modern” one; my college self would’ve bought basically that entire list of stuff and been super comfortable / happy with that. I’m a little less enthused about the “minimal cozy” one because it seems more cozy than minimal. Speaking for myself, as a self-identifying aspirational minimalist, the shag rug seems impractical (so. much. vacuuming. not to mention a fear of stains that are hard to clean up), which seems antithetical to minimalism. The floor lamp also gives me cause for concern because it will take up such a large footprint on the floor when space will be at a premium. I still like the room and am happy to see a minimal-leaning room included; I just think it could be even better.

  6. I’m really happy about the trend of interior design in dorm rooms. Dorm rooms have always been so cold, sterile and miserable. College students deserve to have a lovely and comfortable living space too.

  7. Love the clickable pictures!!! Seriously, it’s a major upgrade in functionality.

    My initial thought is that the Classic Collegiate looks like a guy’s room compared to the others, but that I also really like it and kind of want that dark, moody, classic vibe in my house. Thanks for including something completely different.

    The Minimal Cozy picture isn’t showing up for me in Google Chrome, just FYI. Would love to see that one too 🙂

    1. Shoot! I’m on Google Chrome as well and am seeing it, but we’ll tinker around and see what could be causing the issue!

  8. I have fond memories of my old dorm room, in all its tacky glory. Part of the fun of it was that I could decorate in a way that I wasn’t allowed to do at home. I bought this old tapestry–I just googled it and discovered that it was probably what is called a “victorian piano shawl.” it was silky, mostly green with blue and yellow threads running through it. It had fringe around the edges and the design was of Egyptian hieroglyphics. I truly thought it was gorgeous and couldn’t wait to hang it on the wall. As soon as my roommate saw it, she said, “That is the ugliest thing I have ever seen.” It didn’t match with her frilly lavender bedspread at all. Undaunted, I hung it on the wall on my side of the room. Our relationship started to go downhill from there….

    1. Yeah, but that kind of memory is a True Classic when it comes to college/university in the States. You should treasure it! 🙂 I had 2 separate roommate situations go downhill myself for similar reasons. Now I look back and laugh, and wonder whether they shake their heads at themselves as well, wherever they are in the world.

    2. So funny! My freshman year of college (’97), I ‘steamrolled’ my roommate by decking out the whole place with a forest green and mauve color theme with Beatles posters. I sticky-takked a floral green & mauve border around the top of the cinder-blocked room.

  9. Love this post! I always love the roundups!

  10. Fun post. My dorm days were never like this either!

  11. Hi I love this— and it made me think about designing a classroom. I teach middle school and am working to eliminate uncomfortable seating and offer seating choices a la Flexible seating, while creating a calm environment on a budget—
    Any ideas?

  12. Hi Team EHD, I’ve been reading the blog for over 2 years now, but this is my first time commenting. I just wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your posts and seeing your fab interiors. I’m 15 and am loving the Boho Dorm room here – the accessories would look great with the blush pink scheme in my bedroom! Also, Arlyn, all your posts lately have been very fun, original and full of inspiration, keep it up 🙂

  13. I’ve seen and read all the updates through the last year or so about how the round-up pic/gifs work and somehow it just didn’t sink in. That click to shop feature that’s in here now is awesome! Way to go whoever is responsible for that. I wish I wasn’t such a dunce and could have given whoever an internet high five months ago!

    I’m liking several things – but from different looks. I’ll be mixing and matching!

  14. I missed the viral room from last year, but as a southerner may I say it makes total sense that those girls go to Ole Miss. I did like the ostrich and llama pictures though.

  15. Oh my goodness the clickable image links are SO MUCH BETTER – Thank you!!

  16. I design and sell dorm friendly light fixtures in case anyone is interested! 🙂 They come with a 16′ cord and plug, but they can also be cut and hard wired. I design them myself, but I get them manufactured for safety reasons. http://www.etsy.com/shop/assemblagefixtures

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