It’s no secret that living in a dorm can sometimes feel a little sterile. With furniture that is provided for you (whether you want it or not), limited space and storage options, and florescent lighting that’s unflattering at best, making a dorm room feel comfortable, liveable, and beautiful can feel like an insurmountable task.

I am currently a Junior in college and have lived in the dorms all three years of my college career. Having a restful, clean, and organized living space is really important to me, so it’s been my mission to create this type of space within my little dorm-home; I finally feel like I’ve achieved it!

Here are some of my tips for creating a really lovely space for yourself while you pursue your education:

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLINGHow to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

1. Organization and cleanliness are key.

The first step in making any space feel comfortable is to make sure it is clean and ordered. Since most students move multiple times within their college years, there is ample opportunity to de-clutter, re-evaluate belongings, and toss unneeded junk! Tidiness master, Marie Kondo actually talks about the the joy found through tidying up in the new Darling Issue 18! I resonate with the importance of organization and cleanliness because it truly does help me process life and studies in a clearer state of mind. When your room is clean and organized, you can then begin adding personal touches to make your space feel like home.

2. Quality fabrics are a must.

A great carpet, quality curtains, and adorable pillows help make an otherwise lifeless dorm room feel warm and comforting. These elements will infuse your space with a more permanent feeling as well, making a dorm room feel closer to an apartment! As you can see, I personally have a neutral and white-centric color theme in my room which creates a styled look. It’s also a good idea to flow with the color of the furniture provided in your dorm room. This helps your space look cohesive and less like you’re trying to fight against the pieces you are provided by your residence hall.

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

3. Use glassware.

I love making myself a fresh pot of french-press coffee in the mornings (when I have time, that is). Using glassware like this along with mugs, plates, bowls, and metal flatware help your all-in-one space feel more like a home where you’d enjoy comforts like these.

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

4. Fresh flowers, always.

I think every girl loves the words of Claude Monet, “I must have flowers, always, and always.” I’ve found that picking up a fresh bouquet of flowers every week or so helps infuse my space with a little extra life. Plus, this practice helps me to feel like I’m tending to that inner hostess even while I’m living in such a small space!

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING
Hand cream provided by Grown Alchemist

4. Skip the overhead lighting.

Maybe it’s just me, but fluorescent lighting is essentially the worst thing that could happen to a room. I seem to always feel a bit more stressed and overstimulated when under a florescent lighting system.

In my dorm, these are just the type of lights the bedrooms are equipped with, but I never turn them on. I find that keeping a more natural, subtle lighting scheme in my room helps to keep the space feeling calm and relaxing. I do this by always having the blinds open for natural sunlight during the daytime and by using several lamps throughout the room that fill the room with a really restful light — simple!

I love that this also creates a natural progression from day to night time. By relying mostly on sunlight, my room is brightest in the mornings and gradually becomes dimmer by evening, which is definitely conducive to healthy sleep patterns — an essential for a busy college student.

How to Style Your Dorm So That It Doesn't Feel Like a Dorm | DARLING

5. Invest in permanent pieces.

My final piece of advice is to start investing in some more “permanent” furniture pieces. Although you probably won’t be able to bring in a large couch, sleek dining room table, or amazing arm chair, you can bring in smaller, yet more permanent pieces like a coffee table, side tables or nightstands, a bookshelf, even a nice desk chair. Again, these help ground the space and make it feel a bit more permanent.

Overall, the important thing to keep in mind while trying to make your dorm room feel livable is to create a space that you feel comfortable and serene in. Balancing classes, homework, relationships, jobs, and other responsibilities is exhausting to say the least. You need a space where you can slow down, unwind, and truly rest. Think of it like this: an investment in your living space is an investment into yourself. In a season of life that is often overwhelming, having a peaceful dorm room will help ground and center you as you press into your studies and launch into the rest of your life.

Best of luck, my fellow dormers — happy studying (and decorating)!

Images via Cassidy Boatright



  1. Love this room! Im kinda late to this post but i hope you still respond! Where is the bedding from? i think they are different but i love them both!! I’ve been on the hunt for a white bedding with a very subtle print/ pattern

  2. Hey Cassidy!!!!! I just fell in love with the lamp on your table next to your bed!!! do you know where you got it from? love, love your dorm!!!

  3. We’re did you get your side table with the basket under it? I am looking for one… Ps: love you dorm!

  4. Beautiful room! Where did you find the wall folders you have hung next to your desk? I’ve been searching for something similar!

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