Experts discuss dorm room glow-ups

By: Sarah Wojcik | Metro | Published September 8, 2021

 A “cloffice” concept, which transforms a walk-in closet to an office, can be applied to dorm room situations.

A “cloffice” concept, which transforms a walk-in closet to an office, can be applied to dorm room situations.

Photo provided by Corie Conroy

 An affordable area rug can tie a space together for college and university students living in dormitories.

An affordable area rug can tie a space together for college and university students living in dormitories.

Photo provided by Jess Stein

METRO DETROIT — As colleges and universities welcome students back, those who opt to reside on campus are faced with the challenge of how to decorate often small and blank-walled dormitories.

Experts weighed in on how to transform a temporary living situation into a homey oasis that students will be excited to return to after a long day of classes.

For many students pursuing higher education, the cost of tuition, textbooks and boarding leave little left in their budgets for decor and personalization. However, it can be done.

Jess Stein, social media coordinator for National Strategies Public Relations and former college dorm resident, discussed easy hacks to spruce up a drab dorm room on behalf of her firm’s client, CanvasPrints.com.

“This might be people’s first time moving away from home, and CanvasPrints.com makes custom canvas prints at a super affordable range from $12 and up, depending on the size,” Stein said. “You can display your favorite pictures of family, friends, dogs or something to make your little space a little homier.”

She said the canvas prints can sit on a shelf or act as a large focal point on a wall.

Another way to spruce up a dorm is to add greenery, which can be picked up at a local farmers market, Stein said.

“Succulents are kind of hard to kill, and there’s a whole bunch of affordable options on Facebook Marketplace to find plants in your area and buy local,” she said. “Another simple and easy trick is to buy an area rug.”

Stein recommended that students find a new comforter that blends with their space and reminds them of home, because the beds in the dorms are often a different size than their beds at home.

Downsizing is a generally accepted fact among students living on campus, and storage is another important component of the process.

Stein said foldable items can take up less space by being stored in a closet, and storage bins can be stashed under beds. Additionally, floating shelves can be installed in the bedroom or bathroom to add additional storage in a way that adds both functionality and glam.

“Hanging up firefly lights or adding a lamp really brightens up a room,” she said. “Going away to college is a huge deal, and creating a new home is essential. Consider bringing a family blanket or get a favorite picture printed to add things that make you happy.”

Corie Conroy, a Birmingham-based home stager, said color and texture are the keys to transforming a small space, from college dorms to a recent project she completed turning a walk-in closet into a home office.

“The ‘cloffice’ is only a 7-by-4-foot space, but it looks really cool,” Conroy said. “We put in a desk, floating shelves, wallpapered the walls, created a really pretty custom window treatment, and made cushions for a bench seat.”

The same concept can be applied to a dorm room setting, Conroy said, with a special emphasis on “going vertical.”

She said a loft bed can serve as a way to incorporate a desk, storage or additional seating underneath. Additionally, students can apply “peel and stick wallpaper,” a nonpermanent and easy-to-install solution to sprucing up small spaces.

She said stackable clear storage containers are another simple solution to refrigerator organization.

Lastly, Conroy recommended purchasing a custom pantry or closet organization system by looking online or hiring a professional.