5 Dorm Room Transformations You Need to See to Believe

published Sep 7, 2018
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(Image credit: Sheila Ybarra)

In the past couple weeks, millions of US college students moved into their dorms. This big milestone is filled with planning, emotions, labor, more emotions…in other words, mental and physical exhaustion.

However, the payoff is seen through the finished product: a dorm room that is not only livable, but glowing with design. And let’s be real, these student living quarters can be tight and extremely sterile-feeling, and it takes some serious to make them feel spacious and attractive.

So, I turned to Instagram—the most visual-focused social platform of them all—and rounded up the before-and-after transformations that made me totally gawk. See below for my dissection of each favorite dorm room-lift and the helpful tips that came from them. (After all, you never know when you’re going to find yourself transforming an empty space!)

[Scroll through to see the before images.]

Interior designer Victoria, who works for Gracefully Done Designs, transformed this dorm room with teal, yellow, and gray accents. The large watercolor painting hung next to the bed compliments the palette of the twin bed, decorated with geometric-patterned pillows. And the gray wooden lamp and boxes in the lounge area adds a rustic-meets-warm feel to the space. “Dorm rooms can feel so sterile,” says @gracefullydonedesigns. “Things like lamp light, soft rugs, and plush bedding create a more inviting look!”

Shiela Ybarra helped her daughter Skylar feel right at home with this pastel paradise. The peony pink and yellow wallpaper gives the space a welcoming vibe, complimented by blush pink pillows, a gold accented table, lamp, and set of votives, much of which was purchased from Wayfair. A small house plant, wall garland, and framed photo of a wreath that reads “Stay a While” brings soft greenery into the dorm as well. “Shop at discount stores and do your best to find items that they can recycle year after year,” says Sheila.

Interior stylist Ebony, founder of The Vogue Room, decorated this dorm space for a freshman year college student. Personality shines through the design, especially in the wall art—from the framed fashion-forward photos on one side to the “sweet dreams” pink sign on the other—not to mention the eye-popping black-and-white speckled removable wallpaper that ties in with the bed pillows. “[Removable wallpaper] will instantly take those dorm room walls from drab to fab,” says Ebony. “Also, it’s super easy to apply and remove once you finish the year!”

Mallory and Savannah of Classy Clutter, a DIY blog, transformed this dorm for twins and YouTube stars Brooklyn and Bailey. In other words, the team had bright personalities to fit into a small area. By using patterned rugs, faux-fur seating, removable wallpaper, and a lot of color popping, they did just that—despite the obstacles they faced during the process. “We had to think outside the box,” says @classyclutter. “We still wanted to add personality and pops of color, though we could not paint, couldn’t use nails, and we had to use all of the furniture that was in the dorm.”

[Scroll through for after images.] Loyola University New Orleans student Destiny Martin decked her dorm out in various textures—from the marble contact paper covering the desk to the white-laced comforter draping over the side of the bed. And the faux-fur rug and stool definitely added a quirky pop to the bedroom. “Make it feel like home,” says Destiny. “Something as simple as a rug makes your room feel cozy!”