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It's that magical time of year - back to school. And for millions of young people that means dragging a car full of stuff to a campus somewhere and helping Mom and Dad unload it and carry it up three flights of stairs and try to fit it all into room that is half the size of a McMansion bedroom. The dorm room is sort of a rite of passage for many young people and it is often the start of our personal decorating lives as adults. And when you give people a limited amount of space they get creative!

But over time we forget those creative ideas on how to make the most of our small rooms and we let ourselves sprawl all over our new larger and larger digs. So today - I want to take us back to the dorm and figure out some great ideas that you can use in your home today.

Image via PB Kids
Maximizing Space
That is the thing about Dorm Rooms. You spend hours thinking about how to make more space. Sometimes you loft a bed - sometimes you put in risers. You find ways to hang ANYTHING. If we apply the same logic to our current homes - how can we create more space?

- Go up the wall
Shelves and hooks are key here.  Think like an advertiser in NYC - if it is flat and doesn't move, you can do something with it.  Moderation is key of course, but in a home office doing shelves across your wall can provide valuable space to store office supplies, documents and tools. 

-  Lift it up
Risers under beds are a classic way to create more storage space.  Don't want your dead air to show?  We have a queen bed with a king size quilt on it.  It hangs down low enougth to cover that extra air space and provides some valuable storage in our guest room!  Lofted beds are also a classic idea and a great way to create more space in a kids room. 

Image via PB Kids
Double Duty Furniture 
Another great way to maximize space and function is to buy furniture that is double duty.

-  Invest in furniture that has built in storage.
Coffee tables, dinettes, or even couches like the picture above could have built in storage.  Benches with storage built in are another great idea. Try to look for pieces that have additional shelves or that provide concealed storage as potential options.

-  Get dual strategy pieces
Futons are the classic example!  Couch by day - bed by night.  But there are others.  I like the trunk above that is also being used as a coffee table.  You can do the same thing with ottomans.  Day beds are perfect for office/guest rooms too.

Image via PB Kids
Personalize Your Space
If you walk into any store right now you will see Back to College stackouts that invite you to create your style.  Dorms are probably the first real experience we have with deciding what that style is and how we are going to express it. 

-  Don't be afraid of bright colors
There must be a reason that retailers keep coming back year after year with neon products for back to school.  Teens keep buying them.  Most aren't afraid to use bold colors.  Perhaps that is just because they a vibrant.  Or perhaps it is cause they are moving out of a beige box and crave color!  

-  Monograms and Names
In collage - you put your name on your stuff so someone won't take it!  But now - it can be a chic accessory!  Don't be afraid to put your stamp on your home too.

So there you go - some tips to steal from back in your college days.  So those are some good ideas!  Now tell me one decor thing you did back in those early years that you wouldn't bring back!  I will admit it ... I had tie dyed neon bedding!   

Linking this up to the Inspired by Party with Melissa @ The Inspired Room.

11 frugal friends said ...

Karen said... @ August 6, 2010 at 7:34 AM

This was a fun post. One of my nieces is leaving for college next week and has been planning her room since November when I gave her an old PB Teen rug that used to be in my daughter's room. The rug is pale green with a and periwinkle blue floral design. That was her starting point. I hope she's considering some of the things that you talked about here, like maximizing space and considering smart ideas for storage.

Missy June said... @ August 6, 2010 at 10:35 AM

Thank you for sharing...I went to college in the eighties and must say the only carry-over has been a smart strategy of shoe containment!

hizzle said... @ August 6, 2010 at 2:40 PM

I just love every pic you posted in this blog!
I dont really have any decor things I wouldn't do now. Except maybe I wouldnt have so much mickey stuff. But only because other people would think I'm weird. :)

Debbie's L'Bri said... @ August 6, 2010 at 5:10 PM

My daughter just put up a loft bed in her room that she shares with her sister. It gives her more room to put her stuff. I never really thought of it as a dorm room.

Shelly @Crafty Creative Studio said... @ August 6, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Well, not specific to a dorm room -just a home bedroom! When I was in Jr. High, my dad bought us all water beds. (My brother & I, and my parents.) After the first year, he worried about the elctricity used to keep them heated, and we turned them off and used heavy matress pads instead -which worked fine. We kept these beds all through my high school years. I imagine that I would be very "sea sick" if I tried it now!

Carolyn Ward said... @ August 6, 2010 at 11:04 PM

Things I wouldn't do again? I'm remembering all the cool things I wish I could do again... Like using an old comfy chair in my dorm room that my brother had in his the year before, and the fun post cards I used as mini posters, and the license plate from England that I had made with my name on it. Sigh, the memories...

RenĂ© said... @ August 7, 2010 at 6:50 AM

Dorm rooms are so much cooler than they used to be. I would be embarrassed to say what mine looked like :).

Have a great weekend.


Dot said... @ August 7, 2010 at 11:24 AM

I used to string Christmas tree lights yearlong. I can't remember why, but I loved them at the time. My friends would say, "Your room is very festive!" And I always thought it was a compliment. :)

Thanks for this fun post - visiting from
ProBlogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog/SITSGirls Challenge.

The Single Nester said... @ August 12, 2010 at 1:31 PM

There is no way the dorm I lived in years ago would accomodate any of these designs. I wish but no.

Chad Lewis said... @ April 5, 2011 at 11:33 PM

Maximizing your space is totally important especially in a college dorm where you share a room with another student. Just like in the first example, instead of a basic bed, you should get a loft bed for that extra storage space or a place where you can sit and study, and you can place a curtain to maintain privacy.

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